In the week that saw the first Race Disparity Audit which highlights the challenges that black, Asian and ethnic minorities faced in the UK, I, a young British Muslim, was chosen to represent the UK at the One Young World Summit in Bogota, Colombia.
Am I different to any other young British person hailing from a minority? No.
My parents fled to the UK during the Somali Civil war in the 1990’s and I grew up in the brilliant melting pot of cultures in Brixton. A story similar to others. What is different is that I was lucky enough to benefit from initiatives designed to support and empower young people, such as, Bright Education Centre and Elays Network. From there, I was inspired to pursue my medical degree at UCL and now, here I am, having had the amazing experience hearing from world influencers such as Sir Bob Geldof and Denise Young Smith, Apple’s Vice President of diversity and inclusion.
The championing of support for minority voices was one of the key messages I took from the summit. Sir Bob hailed the next generation as the key to solving global issues, while Denise Young Smith impressed the need for young people to have a role model. They certainly hit the nail on the head. Having access to this support combined with sheer dogged determination lead me to the successes I have achieved so far. Mentoring has made a real difference to me so I was thrilled to hear these inspirational voices talk about the value mentoring can add to someone’s life.I now work with the groups that supported me to encourage others to achieve their aspirations, by running educational workshops and coordinating University advice days.
At the summit, Ousmane Ba, the founder of The Girl Child Project discussed his activism on feminist issues. He began when he was just nine years old. If a boy as young as this has aspirations to make a difference anyone can lend a hand to support someone that needs it. Ousmane addressed the audience with “It’s simple: educate a girl and you educate a whole community!” I loved this and took it to mean that by helping just one person, it will create a positive ripple effect. It was truly inspirational.
We also heard from the Astronaut, Ron Garan. He showed us an image he had photographed of planet earth from space. What struck us all was there were no borders and no barriers between one country and another. It is only the barriers and limitations that we impose on ourselves that hinder us from getting where we want to go. Or, prevent us from giving an outstretched hand to those across the globe that may seem far away.
It was a levelling moment. We all have so many more similarities than differences and, by making the most of opportunities, we can create our own achievements and help others to do the same in the process.