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Randy, a 19-year-old from Managua, Nicaragua, escapes political unrest and finds himself alone and uncertain in the UK. Forced to leave his family, he navigates the complexities of seeking asylum, experiencing fear and hope along the way. Amidst the challenges, Randy discovers a supportive community and a newfound sense of safety. As he adapts to life in Guildford, his dreams of studying physiotherapy in Liverpool take shape, symbolizing his resilience and determination to build a new life far from home.

This film was produced with the help of Big Leaf Foundation.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Randy:    My name is Randy I'm 19 years old and I'm from Nicaragua. I'm from Managua which is the capital of Nicaragua. I lived in a neighborhood with my family, which are my parents and my sister. One of my favorite memories is playing in my hometown with my friends, playing football in the streets, playing hide and seek. Yeah. My childhood was really nice. So when I was 13, I realized that there was a bigger issue in the political side of my country. Basically, I didn't realize that we had a dictatorship in 2006 and I was just living a normal life. But from 2018 and onwards, I just knew how bad the country situation was in terms of political government. It all started with the pension scheme change for the elderly, and then it started with the way that the government was managing the situation with the people protesting. These protests started being done by the university students and they were amazing. I attended many of them. Everything started to change when we realized that the government was putting people in jail, or even murdering people just because of the political situation. Unluckily, me and my family were living in a neighborhood which is mostly associated with this party. There are many people that work in the government and for the government, and that makes us in danger most of the time. I was 17 years old when I left Nicaragua.

 

This decision was made mainly by my parents, and I wasn't happy with the decision, but I knew that it was a thing that I had to do to be safe. I traveled by plane alone from Nicaragua to my next destination. I felt really scared and sad when I left by my own, because I didn't know what to expect of the new place that I was going to live in without my family. I lived in America for around two months with my cousins. We were undocumented. And at that moment my parents were going through a difficult economical situation, so they couldn't afford supporting me in the country. That was the reason why my cousins wanted me to work illegally. Which makes me feel less safe and made my parents should take the decision to send me to the UK. I took a plane from Miami to London, and throughout the journey I felt scared because I was going to claim asylum at the airport, and that made me feel frightened of what was going to happen. I was thinking that I could get rejected, that I could get deported back to Nicaragua or something like that. At the airport. The first thing I said to the officer was that I wanted to claim asylum in the UK. They put me into a room with more people trying to claim asylum. When I was in the room, I was looking at the window and I saw these people just coming into the UK or returning to the UK, feeling happy about it.

 

When I was feeling so scared of what was going to happen to me, and I had the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen. So it was a mix of emotions at that moment. When I arrived to the UK, I was 17 so I was still a child and child services had to take care of me. When a child service officer was driving me to my new location, I felt really relieved because I was more focused on getting to know the place, emersing in a new culture, and realizing the fact that I was in a completely different continent. I was just surprised about the fact that the UK drives in the other side of the road. Also the way that the houses are built with these orange walls and everything. So I really like that. When I was told that I was going to move to Guildford, I didn't know that it was a place. But then when I got there, I like the place because it was a small town, which meant I could walk anywhere. In Guildford I live in a supported accommodation with other young people. I felt comfortable because most of the people were asylum seekers as well, so we were in the same situation and these people were my age or younger or a little older than me, so I was comfortable with them. So after claiming asylum, I had to wait for around nine months and throughout these nine months I only was allowed to study, not to work. Then after nine months, I have my first substantive interview, which is the main interview. When they decide if you reject it or you're accepted in your asylum application. Unfortunately, I was rejected. And that made me feel that everything ended. Fortunately, with the support of a lot of people, I was able to go through the appeal phase, which took around 6 to 7 months for the hearing.

 

In November of 2023, I was granted refugee status by the Home Office, and that made me feel so happy and so relieved about my future. I was lucky because I had access to everything now. I could live like a normal UK resident, I could work, I could have access to student finance because my dream is to go to university here. So I could do that now. Hopefully in September 2024 I will be starting the physiotherapy course at University of Liverpool. I've always wanted to become a physiotherapist, but in Nicaragua I don't think that I would have done it. I don't think that it was going to be the pathway that I was going to choose, mainly because of the lack of opportunities to be a physio in Nicaragua. So if I would have stayed in Nicaragua, it was going to be the dream that I wasn't going to achieve. I miss my country, I miss Nicaragua, I miss my culture, my food, my family, my friends is just what you grew up with. And it's something that stays with you your whole life. My relationship with Big Leaf started one day after I moved to Guilford. I was just walking around Guilford, and then I received a text message from a number. Basically was just saying if I wanted to go to some music lessons and I didn't know how they got my number. But then I realised that my social worker gave them my number. I decided to go to the lessons, and I really liked the lessons, and I really like the way that they were treating me. I volunteer with Big Leaf in the Big Leaf Refugee Week, mainly in the organization of the event. After that, I've been doing some volunteering with them sometimes and some paid work sometimes. All of these experiences that I have with Big Leaf made me feel very proud of myself.

 

All of the achievement that I've done, being a young leader, being a volunteer now, being paid for my work and my contribution to the community, something that makes me feel very proud. I realized that I've been able to achieve things that I didn't know that I was able to. And yet, that just makes me feel happy. Being a refuge to me means being different, having to work hard every day. Giving yourself the permission to feel and knowing that you have the same opportunities as everyone. And you're equal to everyone, regardless of the ethnicity or your nationality. Now I have less worries compared to when I was living in Nicaragua or when I was living in America, because I feel more safe. I feel that my future is going how I want it to be, that I'm in the correct pathway to achieve my dreams. And I feel happy now.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Video length - 09.04
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Rishan, a 26-year-old from Eritrea, fled her homeland to Sudan at the tender age of three with her family to escape the oppressive regime that denied them basic human rights and forced young people into the military. Life in Sudan was tough, Rishan and her family lived under the shadow of fear due to the lack of official documents and she had no access to education. At 16, driven by the need for a better future, she embarked on a perilous journey across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea, leaving behind everything familiar without even a goodbye to her mother. This courageous leap into the unknown was fuelled by sheer determination and the hope for a life of freedom and opportunities.
This film was produced with the help of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

 

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Rishan: Hi, my name is Rishan. I'm 26 years old and I'm from Eritrea. My family fled Eritrea when I was three years old because it's owned by dictatorship president. You don't get the chance to your human basic rights. Everything is just restricted. Everything you have to go with by the government. You get to a certain point that you have to obviously cut off your education because you're going to be sent to military. Some families, mums, they don't know what their children happened to them, whether they died, whether they're still here, or whether even exists. My mum decided she doesn't want that to happen for me or my other siblings so she fled to Eritrea. I spent my life in Sudan 13 years. I've never been to school. I have my neighbour who is a teacher, who is the one teaching me how to read English and the mass and all of these things. We only had just one room. So that would be with me, with my mum and my siblings together. And it's a small thing, but it's kind of brings lots of memories, beautiful memories. My family didn't had any documentations. My mum always say to me, oh don't go out so much. If you don't have ID, you would be taken by the police force and then you can be sent back to your country. That's what happened to my dad. I never get to know where is he now.

 

I left Sudan when I was 16 years old, and that was the end of 2014. It was just a need for me to leave. There was no option for me to stay in Sudan. So therefore I have to just leave without telling my family or telling my my mum because otherwise she will stop me. It was just all of a sudden happen. And I was the oldest of my siblings. I felt the need for me that to to just move from Sudan. I left with my friends, three of us. It was a small car crossing the Sahara. The adrenaline of like continuously that I have to just keep going, keep going. And I couldn't look back and just decide that I. Oh, I'm not I can't do it. So let's let's go back to Sudan. So it was just, um, it's just there was a moment of continue moving from place to place and thus, um, started from Sudan and I went to Libya and then from Libya to crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, and then from Italy to France, and then from France to Calais, from Calais to the UK. We always like in fear that we have to be like hidden. We have to be covered. They should, if they see a car that come in like crossing the border. So you have to be like always. The like, mind your head. Nothing is gonna gonna happen to you. We been placed in the house that there was no, like, any food or any water. And you don't get to see the sun. You just have to be kept inside with full of so many people there in one room. And you will hear the shooting, because there was always shooting guns there. And you just have to pray that this bullet doesn't come to your head. So many females being raped or being abused by males happening there. I think I was just lucky because I speak the language, so I understand what they saying. I would move from the place if something came across to me. Could be any like dangerous physically. To cross the Mediterranean Sea was in the small boats. Halfway to get to Italy. The boat starts sinking. I remember there's water and everyone trying to get this water outside. I start praying that, um, that something is gonna happen. Like, something is gonna be gonna come and just save us. Luckily, the Italian border came and then they just took us in the big ship. In Calais. I saw people like jumping at the back of the lorry and I tried couple time and I guess because of my size was small it was easy for me to enter inside and from there the lorry goes to the train and then the train obviously arrived to the UK and um, it was a, it was a daytime that when I came to here when the UK police found me. When I arrived here, I was 17 years old, so they decided to put me with a foster family. I was so exhausted. And I just want to, just to sleep. My fosters start to teach me, what's the pound what's the royal family, and all of these things started to know about the country. But it's more like in the back of my head, am I safe, is this really. I can trust those people, even though their approach is welcoming and supporting. Everything is just back. Came back from the beginning.

 

That's the reason I used to stay in my room. Just to kind of get this thing away from my head, but it was never did. So when I left was with other two friends. By the time I crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. I asked about my friend, one of them. He didn't make it because their boat is just sunk in the sea. I felt like, why me and why him? And that's the the, the moment of like reflecting back about the journey. Like why did we already left from the very beginning and why I was lucky to be here and why this is happening to him. The journey was full of danger, full of terrifying moment. The thing that keeps me alive would be like my hope that God is going to be with me. I always say that from Sudan to the UK it was one journey. But living in the UK is my second journey. When I came here, the most shocking things that I felt like really sad and upset to the point that I was just, um, I said, why, why, why is that? All things that I've done it and nothing is going to be sorted out. And I guess not being with my family, it took me more like it kind of shocked me more when I came here. You cannot bring your family. You can't bring your siblings. I spent the time, a long time in my room because like I asked him, why did I left? And nothing is going to be happen with it. But my foster care took me on a positive journey. I would say to think about no Rishan. You can now think about what things you wanted to do in terms of education. How are you going to be supporting them by first supporting yourself? And I always say, I want to go to university. I want to do nursing, which is now what I'm doing. I'm in my final year of nursing. I definitely want to be a nurse to work in the NHS. I would say I like the word refugee. I like people to refer me as refugee. Anyone in their life. We seek refuge in something. Being a refugee and being always heard the word illegal, Illegal. I'm always looked up on a way of on a negative perspective. I'm here to seek safety. Nobody would like to die in a journey. Nobody would like to be separated from their family. The point that is just you don't have an option for plan A or B, you just have to leave. I know KRAN since I came here, I was a service user. Like I was just young person attending classes. There was a role of youth ambassador and that's where I apply for it. I feel like there's a platform for me in KRAN to advocate about this situation. I want to reach more people to talk about our story. This is my situation. This is my story. I'm proud to be like refugee because it's nothing wrong with being a refugee.

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Video length - 6.36
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

A short film following the experiences of two young women’s neurodivergence (Autism and ADHD) and the difficulties they encountered in the education system as they journeyed to understand themselves. This documentary highlights the issues surrounding diagnosis for women and girls in the UK and was created in partnership with the BFI during the BFI documentary residential 2024.

Not So Typical

Ruby: As a kid, I didn't really realise that I thought differently and I felt differently. I just felt like a bit of an outsider at times, and I felt like I didn't fully have control in how I was behaving and how I was feeling as much as other people did.

Eva: I had so many friendship issues in school. Um, primary school and secondary school specifically because I wasn't diagnosed, I ended up calling myself a nomad friend. I would move from group to group. I actually struggled really badly with bullying. That period of my life of just being like, I can't change who I am and you're bullying me for it. I got really upset.

Ruby:  I remember always feeling like I couldn't settle into a group in school. I got bullied quite badly through like year 7 to year 9 and that was all surrounding, like how I was like, and I never really fully understood it. But people were just always like, you're too much like you're too loud. You're too intense. If I didn't do my homework, it was because I was lazy or my attendance was really low because I couldn't be bothered to come into school kind of thing. Whereas there was actually like an issue that was going on that was just completely undetected. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 17 years old. I think when it came to getting my diagnosis, it took quite a long time. There's always waiting lists. I started looking into getting the diagnosis at around 15, and I didn't actually get my formal diagnosis and assessment until I was 17.

Eva: I was diagnosed with autism when I was 16, a month before my 17th birthday. My brother's diagnosis was the spurring point of mine. Girls are diagnosed later than boys, especially with autism and a lot of medical conditions. When they first did the research on the topic, they only did it on white boys. They only use them as their subject, and so their symptoms, in a way, are the ones that they look for.

Ruby:  I actually don't really know how I got through school with it being undetected by teachers, because I think, to be honest, like when I look back, I was quite textbook ADHD. I am someone that can't sit still. I've always been fidgety. There's a lot of issues with concentration. I've just felt very misunderstood at school and feel like when you're not made for the society that we live in, you are isolated within such a massive group of people and it can feel like so detrimental to like your mental health. When I think about it, it makes me feel really sorry for that girl, because at the time I was only like, you know, 14, 15 and when you feel like you don't fit into like society, like society was not built for you, you like, you have no other place to go.

Eva: Primary school. I used to cry in a corner when I was overwhelmed, and it was a corner because no one could come behind me. I was safe, no one could touch me. I was there, but it was a lot of almost loneliness. At secondary school I just hated the noise. It was always really loud and so I liked to sit outside, even if it was raining, because it's not noisy outside.

Ruby: When I actually got my diagnosis. I remember speaking to my mother was being like, it's crazy that that was never suggested to us. I got tested for bipolar, I got tested for all sorts of things, but they never even thought about it.

Eva: I find with a lot of people I've spoken to, they're like, oh, they said I had borderline personality disorder. They said I had bipolar. Um, and they get all these misdiagnoses because everything had been done for men. Why aren't we talking about something that half the population of the world goes through or will go through in their life?

Ruby: I think when it comes to women, there is a lot of issues when it comes to getting diagnosed because women's ADHD can manifest in such a different way. I think because women in general kind of have to put on a facade anyway. We're used to performing. That's constantly what I've been doing my whole life. When I was a child, I was always told I was bossy. So then I think I then internalised that and I was like, I can't be that because people don't like bossy women. So yeah, I definitely tried to be something I wasn't, but then that made it so that I was just struggling inside. Whereas now, like I viewed the world just completely differently after I got my diagnosis.

Eva: My diagnosis did empower me. It kind of gave me a reason, and with a reason I could go about doing the things I wanted to do. It definitely gave me freedom, and I feel like I found empowerment in the freedom.

Ruby: I'm so much healthier with my mind. I'll take up however much space I need.

 

Not So Typical

Video length - 06.03
Published date - Apr 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Nick Brewer Talks Commitment – Using the stimulus of a poem by rapper and spoken word artist Nick Brewer, pupils are given the opportunity to consider their own values and commitments, the benefits of those commitments, and what they would like to commit to in the future. Made with Fastn.

Nick Brewer Talks Commitment

Video length - 02.59
Published date - Apr 2021
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Doreen’s War: Keep Smiling Through – Doreen was only 8 years old when World War 2 began. While many children were evacuated from London’s east end, Doreen stayed with her family in Plaistow and was homeschooled – even during the deadly Blitz between 1940 and 1941. Her best friend Marjorie had been evacuated to a different part of the country, but their relationship stayed strong and they’re still friends 75 years later.

Just before VE Day in 2020, this interview with Doreen recounting her memories of WW2 was recorded during lockdown conditions due to the coronavirus. Doreen compares how the nation felt then to how it feels during the pandemic.

This film includes an accompanying worksheet that can be used by pupils.

Doreen’s War: Keep Smiling Through

Video length - 04.32
Published date - May 2020
Keystage(s) - 2 and 3
Downloadable resources

Belong – Many children and young people have to move to a new school, a new city, or a new country. In this film, young people describe how it feels to start a new life and find a new home.

Courtesy of Coram.

This film was co-produced by Coram Life Education and Coram Young Citizens, an ambassador programme for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Free lesson and assembly plans exploring the theme of belonging can be found on their site here.

Belong

Video length - 04.58
Published date - Mar 2020
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

The View from the Classroom – Intermarriage – What is intermarriage, and what do you think about it? Students from Key Stages 4 and 5 in schools all around the country give us the view from the classroom.

TrueTube films are designed for use in a number of ways. Some ideas of where this film could link to your curriculum are below:

 

AQA

Component 2: Thematic studies:Theme A: Relationships and families: Sex, marriage and divorce - The nature and purpose of marriage.

 

Edexcel

Area of Study 1 - Section 2 - Sex, marriage and divorce - the significance of marriage in religious life; religious teachings about marriage.

OCR

Component Group 2–Religion,philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective - relationships and families - religious teachings about the nature and purpose of families in the 21st century, sex, marriage, cohabitation and divorce. Issues related to the nature and purpose of families; roles of men and women; equality; gender prejudice and discrimination.

 

WJEC

PART B- Theme 1: Issues of Relationships

 

Eduqas

Component 1 (Route A):Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World : Theme 1: Issues of Relationships:Relationships

The View from the Classroom – Intermarriage

Intermarriage is when

two people of a different background, for example

different religions,

cultures,

races

or nationalities come together and

marry each other.

I think intermarriage is a good thing. I mean, I'm technically from intermarriage, so my mom is from Zambia and then my dad was British English.

My dad is Welsh, and he was born in Swansea. And he- my mum is Brazilian.

My mom's African and my dad's from Kent.

I think it's a good thing for me that I have parents of different nationalities, because I feel like I have an open mind because of it. I like that because, you know, leaves stuff for possibility.

Oh, I 100% think it's really healthy for society to have all of these different religions and ethnicities and all, like, mingling together because it's, it's it makes it more lively.

In some sense, intermarriage would be confusing on children, because if you had a child and you had two religions in that family, you can't really mix them together, because that's obviously then against your religion in some sense.

It might be confusing for the children because the child may need to pick like what type of religion, what type of path to follow. If he wants to follow the father, if he wants to follow the mother.

Problems that intermarriage might cause for the kids, maybe, uh, they're stuck between two cultures. But it also can be good, because it might bring in more opinions about different cultures and help them improve as a person as well, because it might be different ideas they might take in from different religions and put them all together and make a good person.

Some people might be against, um, intermarriage because they feel like they racially won't be pure.

It could be family influences.

Because of religion and culture.

I think that some people may be against intermarriage as they believe that people should stay within what people like to call their own kind.

I think people are scared of the change. They don't want to have something different because it's not what they know.

If you were like, say, a strong Christian, it might be hard for you to accept the practice of, like, what a Muslim would do.

There will always be a problem when it comes to marriage, like, obviously when it comes to, like if she was a Muslim, she has to pray five times a day, she's not allowed to eat pork, she's not allowed to drink, like to smoke. If I'm choosing to marry the woman I love, I will have to believe what she believes in as well. And, like, not saying I will be a Muslim as well. I will still be Buddhist, however I will, I will understand why she does what she has to do.

In Islam, if you are going to marry someone from a different religion, then the child has to follow the man's religion.

I disagree with the fact that men are allowed to marry someone out of faith, and we're not. I think from back in the days it's all changed.

I don't think it matters if I married someone of a different religion, because if I love them, that's all that matters. I would want to have a Muslim wedding because it's my background and I love being a Muslim. I wouldn't mind also doing their way but incorporating it with mine.

I think intermarriage is neither good or bad. I think it's just two people marrying each other for love.

I feel like everyone should have the choice to like and get married to anyone they want. They shouldn't have to conform to 'Oh, you can only marry, you know, your own religion or your own race'. I feel like the world would be a very boring place if that were to happen.

I think intermarriage is happening much more these days, since it's much, it's much, like, widely accepted in today's society. I think it's a sign of healthy society.

I think intermarriage is a good thing because it brings communities together. It brings everyone together. Um, and it lets, it lets us learn the differences between everyone else. And it, it could end racism.

I think it's a sign of a healthy society if we have intermarriage, because it's showing that we have diversity and that we accept everyone for who they are, and we don't think of someone as Muslim or Christian. We think of them as a human and that person's personality.

The View from the Classroom – Intermarriage

Video length - 04.25
Published date - Sep 2019
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Me, Myselfie and I – John is falling behind at school, ignoring his mates and neglecting his girlfriend – all because he’s become obsessed with maintaining his online persona. He spends so much time on his phone, he eventually becomes trapped inside it. Literally.

A re-telling of the Greek myth of Narcissus for the social media age.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

Alastair was invited on to The Victoria Derbyshire Show to be part of a panel discussing social media’s impact on young people as a result of the film. Clips were featured on the show and on BBC World News.

Me, Myselfie and I

Video length - 11.59
Published date - Jan 2019
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

An Untold Story – Robyn is a young filmmaker from a small town in Scotland. She is used to telling other people’s stories, but has never put her own on camera. So in this film, she describes how she came to realise that she was gay, the initial shame she felt (and was made to feel) before proudly accepting herself for who she is.

An Untold Story

Video length - 08.50
Published date - Jan 2019
Keystage(s) - 4

Fine – Joe returns to school after his mother’s funeral, and has to cope with his bereavement surrounded by friends who don’t understand what he’s going through, and teachers who are unsure how to help him.

A film by Emily May Smith.

With thanks to Portsmouth Grammar School.

If someone close to you has died, or if a friend is trying to cope with the death of someone they knew, you can find support and guidance at Child Bereavement UK.

Fine

Video length - 10.31
Published date - Sep 2018
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources