FRIENDS UNITED; SCOTS AND REFUGEES PUT THEIR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ASIDE TO BE BEST OF PALS Next Monday Sees the Start of Refugee Week, a Programme of Arts, Cultural and Educational Events to Celebrate the Contribution of Refugees to the UK
Byline: Annie Brown
SCOTS AND REFUGEES PUT THEIR CULTURAL DIFFERENCES ASIDE TO BE BEST OF PALS Next Monday sees the start of Refugee Week, a programme of arts, cultural and educational events to celebrate the contribution of refugees to the UK. The hope is to encourage a better understanding between the refugees and host communities. But as the Scottish Refugee Council reveal, cultural differences have already been overcome and bonds have been formed across Scotland. Annie Brown has been finding out what has drawn them together...
CAROLINE & MARIAMA FROM SIERRA LEONE
Caroline Lang, 45, with Amanda, 18, Scotland & Mariama Darboe, 29, with Ahmed Sumbunou, nine, Ibrahim, five, and Nancy, five months old, Sierra Leone
'I first met Mariama through Ahmed's previous school when I coached the football team he played on. It was like the United Nations: children from the Congo, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Uganda, Scotland. Kids from all over the world, that made such a difference to the school.
Everyone in Kennishead knows Mariama - both young and old - and her big smile. She volunteers in the community centre, goes into schools and talks to the children.
When Mariama asked me to be Nancy's godmother, it was the proudest day of my life. Nancy means everything to me, as does Mariama and the rest of her family. They are my best friends.'
WHAT MIRIAMA THINKS:
'Caroline has been there from day one for me and my family and we have become firm friends. She knows how to encourage me and keep my spirits up. She and Amanda are my family here. To stay in Glasgow is my dream. I don't want to leave these people'
WHAT AHMED THINKS:
'Mrs Lang was a great football coach. Everyone on that team, we might have all been from different countries, but we're all the same, all equal. The only difference between me and my friends is I support Celtic and most of them support Rangers. We all watch Old Firm games in my house.'
THE MacDONALDS & THE BALAJS FROMSERBIA
WHAT DIANA THINKS:
'When I met Eilidh two years ago, she was so friendly, asking where I was from and about my family. I wasn't surprised by that because all the Scottish people I have met have been really friendly.
We started going to each others' houses for coffee, our children would play together and we would talk. Some days I could get down, a young mum, being here with just my husband and kids, with no other friends or family. Plus I wasn't able to speak the language at first.
But Eilidh would know how I was feeling. She's so intelligent and can see a way to everything. She'll help with my children, offer to babysit. Simple things like that mean such a lot to me.'
'I first met Diana at the local mothers and toddlers group. She would be translating for some of the other mothers. Her English grammar is better than mine.
I was there with Reuben, who was four months old. Diana had Denis, who was a wee bit older. Diana seemed to be holding it together as a young mother, and, just starting out myself, that was a reassurance.
I saw her with her children and I thought, it'll be OK. It was a good support to speak to someone that one step ahead, who had done the toilet training, who could talk about mum stuff.
It must be so hard being a young family in Diana's situation and the uncertainty, learning the language and getting the kids involved and integrated. …