Speaking for Ourselves

Letters and blogs for International Migrants Day 2019

Letters and blogs for International Migrants Day 2019


 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Letters and blogs for International Migrants Day 2019

International Migrants Day is here again! On 18 December, people around the world celebrate all that's good about migration. We asked our members to do the same, whether in short blogs, letters or photos.

Thank you to everyone who contributed - the outpouring of positive messages has been amazing!

You can see all the photo messages on our Facebook page here. Watch some videos here.

And read on for the letters and blogs below...


The words ‘give-up’ are simply not part of her vocabulary

I’m going to get into a lot of trouble for writing this, because the person I’d really like to talk about on International Migrants Day is my sister, Yvonne – and she’d hate it if she knew how mushy I was being about her! 

Like a lot of my family, Yvonne was born in Jamaica and came to this country when she was about nine. She had to fit into a family she hardly knew and a country she had only heard about.

There’s a lot I could say about how much my sister has achieved. How she’s Senior National Sales Director for Mary Kay Cosmetics. How she became the first independent Sales Director in the UK. How she’s led a team that makes over £1.5m in sales every year. 

But what I would really like to talk about is how supportive she is. Yvonne’s always been there for me, no matter what. She’s been my role model. She has been someone who I look up to – not only because of what she has achieved, but how she reacts when things go wrong. The words ‘give-up’ are simply not part of her vocabulary.

She is an inspiration - but not just to me. Yvonne’s supported and mentored hundreds of women across Europe who want to set up their own Mary Kay Business. When we think of migrants we often think of people who deliver public services: we think of NHS workers or care assistants. But Yvonne proves that migrants are also business leaders – and more than that, she’s a business leader who’s determined to open doors for others. 

She’s come a long way since she came from Jamaica, and she’s taking others with her.

Joy Warmington


Being a human starts from accepting and respecting other human beings

If you move from one country to another, you move as a whole person, with your culture, your religion and beliefs, your values and norms, your language and way of thinking.

Everything is difficult and new – the culture, the religion, the values, the language. You want to learn but you think, “If I become like them, I wouldn’t be me”.

But you gradually learn the language, you start to understand the culture, the values, the behaviours and way of thinking. And you realise that you don’t have to give yourself up. It’s like being in a room with two windows – one on either side – instead of just one. You can see more views and different aspects of life.

But all of this is only possible if you accept and respect the human beings in your new society, and if they accept and respect you.

Elamin Elyas


We suffer together, we celebrate together

On this year's International Migrants Day I want to celebrate CARAG (Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group).

I lived in Leeds for 8 years and I loved it there. I had a network of friends and support groups from church, from my country Malawi and from other social groups. Leeds was and still is my second home in that sense. 

In February 2016 when I moved to Coventry, it was a strange place and new. I was lost. It was just me and the world. It was very isolating. 

One day, one of my housemates Lilian explained to me about CARAG and she took me to Coventry Peace House, where CARAG is based. CARAG is run by people going through or who have gone through the UK asylum and immigration system.

I connected with amazing people from around the world. I was weak, CARAG gave me confidence. I no longer have feelings of loneliness because I've found support in CARAG. CARAG is my new family.

There is no better feeling than I belong. We suffer together. We celebrate together. Together we are CARAGers.

Loraine Masiya Mponela


Courage and resilience

At Together in the UK we have told stories of what it is like to migrate to the UK for the last three years.

We have learned that migration is tough but can also be exciting and exhilarating. We know that creating a new life takes courage and resilience. Courage to go out there, meet new people and work with unfamiliar systems. Resilience to keep trying and be optimistic in the face of disappointments and sometimes being misunderstood.

We acknowledge your courage and resilience and we know that we all have much to learn from each other.

Teresa Norman


International Migrants Day is a very significant date on our calendars

Dear Editor,

In October this year, 39 Vietnamese migrants were found dead in the back of a truck in Essex. Each individual who perished in that tragic incident had many dreams for the future after leaving their homeland to reach the UK.

As the world marks International Migrants Day, it is hard to imagine how many years it took these individuals to plan and to save their hard-earned money for their journey to the shores of the United Kingdom. Now the million-dollar question is: “How best can we describe the slow but surely painful deaths that were experienced by these 39 people in that refrigerated truck?”

When we look around today, we can see many migrants who came into the country by boats, lorries and other forms of transport. Many of these migrants are now suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the severe hardships that they experienced whilst travelling to the UK after escaping political and religious persecution in their countries of birth.

On this day, I find myself filled with great sorrow as I remember the 39 Vietnamese migrants, their grieving families as well as the many other migrants with untold stories who have been swallowed by the seas while trying to get to the UK and to other European countries in order to seek political asylum and a better future.

As migrants, International Migrants Day is a very significant date on our calendars. It is one of those days when we remember migrants, because in the midst of our sorrow, living in an often hostile environment, the rest of the year appears dark, forgotten and lost in the sea. 

Bilal, Coventry


We need more bridging programmes for refugees

Dear Editor,

As I was one of the participants who benefited from the Refugee Journalism Project (RJP) this year, I consider myself very lucky. RJP has been set up by the London College of Communication (LCC) to help refugees and migrants get back into their journalism professions because, as is the case with most migrants and refugees, they get deskilled by ending up doing some menial jobs just to survive. This is a waste of the resource that many migrants are.

As the world marks International Migrants Day, I am calling upon other organisations similar to LCC or with the capacity to set up similar bridging programmes to help migrants get their UK careers off the ground by providing the necessary support.

In my view, this will also help migrants in their efforts to meaningfully and quickly integrate into their new society.

By providing refugees with retraining opportunities, skills and good education, refugees can start productive lives in their host countries.

The faster refugees can integrate into the labour force, the faster they can become productive members of society.

Loraine, Coventry


We all inhabit one small planet

Dear Sir,

Coventry has long been well known as a city that welcomes migrants from all over the world. In the face of an increasingly hostile environment in the UK, the city continues to offer this welcome.

Many of us have listened to migrants’ stories, and have come to respect and value the contributions, cultural and personal, that individuals bring with them. My own life has been hugely enriched by my experience of working at Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, where I have been in equal measure deeply moved by tragic stories and profoundly inspired by people’s resilience in dealing with adversity.

Despite some current perverse political attempts to reinforce barriers between nations, the reality is that we all inhabit one small planet, which, with technical advances, becomes smaller all the time. Continuing and increasing mobility of people is a natural corollary of this, and should be valued.

What have British people got to be afraid of? It is a constant source of shame to me as a British citizen that I have to watch increasingly hostile laws and practices being implemented against migrants, backed up by sensational headlines in certain parts of the press. Ultimately this led recently to the tragic murder of 39 human beings imprisoned in a truck in Essex – ordinary people who were travelling simply in hope of a better chance in life, but who were denied the opportunity even to set foot on British soil.

Jon, Coventry


We as a society still have much to do

Dear Editor,

As we mark the 19th year of International Migrants Day in this country, I feel the need to reflect on how we as a society are dealing with migrants coming to this country.

In October, 39 migrants were found dead in a truck in Essex. The eight women and 31 men who were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry are innocent people who were looking forward to having a better future in the UK, but tragically, they did not live to see that happen. This leaves us as a society to think about how the world perceives this country, taking into consideration the fact that the 39 Vietnamese migrants had to risk their lives by going on a dangerous voyage in their attempts to come to the UK without even knowing if they would make it alive.

It can be noted that the hostile anti-immigration environment in the UK and the difficult asylum system implemented by the government have very much contributed to the tragic deaths of many migrants who have lost their lives trying to get to the UK in the most horrendous ways such as getting into trucks or sailing in dangerous boats on the seas.

Although to some extent much is being done in different UK cities to welcome refugees and migrants, we as a society still have much to do in regard to changing our perceptions of migrants and issues relating to them.          

Cynthia, Coventry