REFUGEES who have rebuilt their lives among the Coventry community have been rewarded.
The Lord Mayor of Coventry, Councillor Tony Skipper hosted an awards ceremony which celebrated the contribution of refugees and asylum seekers to the city.
Certificates were presented to 33 individuals for their efforts to rebuild their lives and integrating and volunteering in the community since arriving.
Organisations working in partnership with the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) attended to present certificates to those volunteering with them.
Among them were sisters Dina and Aseel El Haj who arrived in the city last year after escaping the civil war, genocide and famine that is rife in Sudan.
They were awarded for their efforts volunteering – Aseel at CRMC and Dina at the Myton Hospice charity shop – and for achieving a number of qualifications alongside their work.
They said: “We are very happy to be in Coventry and very proud to receive these awards.
“We’d like to thank all those that have helped us in the city since we arrived. We hope to become nurses in the future and have both just begun studying at Warwickshire College to achieve this.”
Jan Malatesta from CRMC who has worked with the sisters since they arrived described them as positive and proactive and said they gone from knowing no English to now studying at college.
She added: “Like with many other people we support, all they want is an opportunity to rebuild their lives in peace and sanctuary. They show that if given the opportunity, they can achieve a lot.”
Jihan Belal was also presented with a certificate for her volunteering efforts at Coventry City Council and Citizens Advice Bureau. Arriving from Syria two years ago, she was welcomed to the city by the Syrian Integration Project which includes a number of city-based organisations.
She now plays for women’s handball team, Coventry Sharks and works full time at Interserve.
She said: “Coventry appreciates what you do, even if it is extremely small.
“I was very upset when I arrived, but the support and welcome I’ve received has been brilliant. I’m proud to call Coventry my home.”
David London, who is part of the Integration Team and worked with Jihan said she had shown drive and determination since arriving, and he was confident she would achieve her dreams.
Nicole Malatesta from the Coventry City of Culture Trust said: “Coventry’s welcome to the newly arrived is something which we can all be proud of.
“Its diversity, culture and ethos of offering peace and sanctuary to those that require it, is a key reason why Coventry is the perfect candidate for the UK City of Culture in 2021.”