20 October 2015


You flee your home country,
so as to seek sanctuary,
then you reach the host country.
you are either detained or dispersed,
lucky you if dispersed,
very unlucky if detained.
If you are the one who is dispersed,
you live in accommodation that is shared,
expected to integrate,
with people of your type,
from different walks of life,
background, language, culture,
religion and even common sense.
You may worry or the reverse,
about the cleanliness of the kitchen,
the bathroom and the toilet,
which you are meant to share.
Confused how to locate
the one stop shop that is nearest,
the office where you should report.
You are neither the boss nor the servant,
accept what life has brought.
And await for what tomorrow holds.
If you are the one who is detained,
you are by now who has despaired,
Still suffering from the trauma you faced.
Confused about the present,
And unsure of the future.
Forced to live in contemplation,
as you have to see life’s other version.
Believe that it is your destiny,
that takes you from country to country.
But have the faith and the strength,
as you await for better days.
Never despair, pursue the fight,
you need to be an optimist,
who has patience to see that day,
when you could speak loudly.

Written in April 2006

19 October 2015


On 13 October around 900 people organised by Citizens UK​ braved the cold weather and gathered at Old Palace Yard to ask David Cameron to resettle 1000 Syrian refugees before Christmas. All those gathered made it clear that the people are ready to welcome refugees. It now looks the government is ready too!

Today David Cameron announced that 1000 Syrian refugees will be resettled before Christmas. The announcement is indeed a big win for civil society and an encouragement to work harder. Of course we will have to wait and see whilst continuing our organised effort to welcome refugees

We still have lots to do to make sure the words are put in practice and that civil society has roles in the resettlement and consequently integration of those who are resettled.  

What makes organising distinct is the fact that we don't only campaign for the sake of campaigning. Rather we want to win and consequently put in place proper strategy to win the win. We thus come up with alternative solutions and campaign in a consistent way. This reminds me one of the maxims of community Organising in Saul Alinsky’s book Rules For Radicals, “Keep the pressure on. Never let up”

When Organised People Speak, The Government will be made to listen. 

16 October 2015


On Tuesday 13 October around 900 people gathered at Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London for a vigil and to ask David Cameron's government to resettle 1000 Syrian refugees before Christmas. This vigil was organised by Citizens UKwhich is the home of community organising in the United Kingdom and the largest civic alliance in Europe. 

In the run up to the 2015 general election, community leaders organised by Citizens UK  approached prospective parliamentary candidates to seek support so that more Syrian refugees would be resettled in the United Kingdom. Further more, community leaders approached councils up and down the country to convince them to take at least 50 refugees in every council. 

In the past few months thousands of British people have shown their readiness and willingness to welcome refugees. They have offered their rooms, time, skills, friendship and money. Yet the response from the government has been too slow. As the Syrian crisis got from bad to worse and the public challenged the government, the British government announced that it would to take in 20000 Syrian refugees over the course of 5 years. 

Following the announcement, Citizens UK have been working all over the country to organise the civil society and secure pledges from more local councils and landlords, that they will house refugees once they arrive here in the UK. The response from the councils and the landlords has been encouraging and it was an indication that when the civil society acts in an organised way, the government and the market could listen. 

The October 13 vigil was attended by senior politicians, religious leaders and members of the public. Among the speakers was Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, who said, " You do not cling to the bottom of a moving truck risking everything if you are looking for an easy life." This is a powerful reminder to the government that people risk everything they have in their search for safety. Hence we cannot turn a blind eye to the crisis and therefore should play our bits as citizens of this world. 

The vigil which was entitled Resettle 1000 Refugees Before Christmas  was the first step to challenge the government to act in the sense of urgency and resettle the most vulnerable 1000 refugees before it is too cold.  

The people are ready to do what it takes to welcome refugees. It is down to the government to do what is right at the right time.

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