Asha North Staffordshire

Global Health Challenges – JOURNEY OF A REFUGEE (21 April)

Taking place on a Saturday Asha was unable to give this conference the support it might have wished but neither did we realise how relevant the conference would be for our staff and users. If we had we might have found a way of enabling more asylum seekers to attend.  As it was Angela accompanied by Hassan al-Shayter and Mohammed Al Hariri attended in the morning and were joined by Godefroid in the afternoon.

Organised by Keele Friends of Medecin sans Frontiere with support from the Keele Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Services the keynote speech was by Dr Tirej Brimo from UHNM Hospital, A Syrian refugee who graduated after 10 years in four countries, Torej was named in a prestigious global list of the best physicians of the year by a leading medical website in December 2017.  His address would have inspired any asylum seeker not to give up hope and to believe that he or she had a future.

The final speech was by Steve Ali, a young refugee who described how the war in Syria had destroyed his childhood idyll in Eastern Ghoutta and his painful and dangerous  journey until his final successful crossing from the Calais Jungle to England. Steve now works as an interpreter for the BBC, NBC Universal and Race Action. 

David Flecknoe, a registrar in public health and a registered nurse who has worked in war torn areas with MSF, spoke about the mental health of refugees and taking advantage of the occasion, Angela spoke to him and Dr Brimo about visiting Asha.

Asha received significant attention because no one had appreciated that there are 950+ asylum seekers on the Keele doorstep.  We had made our number before Godefroid and Angela took a small Break Out group in the afternoon. The students were enthusiastic to know more about ASHA and we were all given a box of chocolates and a certificate of attendance and a ‘Thank you’ card for Asha.

We can expect this to be the beginning of more contact between us.

Due to the impact of COVID 19, British Red Cross informed us they are unable to provide a service at Asha. They have moved to an online service.
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