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Mungo Foundation helped Mo make Scotland his home

A young man shares his story of how the Mungo Foundation helped him to thrive in Scotland

Imagine being 16 and stepping off a bus into a city thousands of miles from your home, where you didn’t know, anyone or speak the language. A decade ago that was Mo — he fled Guinea in fear of his life and ended up in Glasgow — now he’s got a degree, a life and he’s helping other young refugees thanks to the Campus project run by the Mungo Foundation.

“I had no idea, where I was,” he recalls about his first impression of arriving in Glasgow. “No idea at all. I’d heard about England, right? But Scotland. I didn’t know anything about it.”

He’d left Africa because his mum didn’t feel it was safe.

“Dad was involved in something political and he was arrested, and I was with him, and I ended up in prison. I think my mum tried her best to help me to get out of prison and then to put me on the [plane] and that’s why I left,” he said. “I still remember the last words my mum said to me, that’s the flashback I get whenever I try to remember Guinea. But I can’t say it—it’s something I have to keep to myself.”

It was really scary, he said: “Because you know, your life has been [turned] upside-down in a month. I was living like a prince, I had everything in my house, I got my three meals a day and it all changed.”

Mo was fortunate in that he was one of the first people sent to the Campus project, which looks after look asylum seekers 16018 who show up in Scotland unaccompanied. Over the past decade they’ve helped nearly 300 young Asylum seekers.

“The first week was hard, living in an English speaking place, you don’t know the people, you are asking too much questions, it was really scary,” he said. “That was the first week. But you end up with the right people, and they try to find a way to talk to you, and to approach you, to get your confidence back. Yes it was difficult, but I found that was the only place where I could express myself, and make new friends. Because you weren’t alone in the class, because everyone was in the same position as me. I mean they were all asylum seekers or refugees, and they were also living on campus as well.

He was in Campus for a year before leaving and since worked in many jobs—a cleaner, a security guard, a bouncer. But then he said he realised: “I’m going to go to university.”

He graduated from Glasgow Caledonian last year with a degree win social science and now works at Campus helping other young boys go through the same process he went through.

“One thing I can help with is acclimitastion,” he explains. “I have a good connection with the boys.” He said. “It’s probably down to my work at some point, as a care worker. Because I’m not saying that I’m better than any of the other staff here but when I look at the boy, sometimes I see myself, and that’s probably what I’ve learned from the past, as I’ve been that teenager.”

He says that Glasgow is his home now.

“I feel safe here in Glasgow for now, but I want to help these boys for now,” he said. “I’m not gonna lie to you, that’s the reason I chose to study social sciences. I was involved in volunteering with helping asylum seekers through Glasgow Caledonian.

“I volunteered every summer to go and help asylum seekers for three or four weeks at a time. It’s emotionally and physically hard, and some of the stories I heard, I can’t even imagine what those people went through. But I was just there to help them, trying to do my best.”

However he has not been back to his home country.

“No,” he said. “I wanted to go back, but no. I will, one day, maybe. But I’m not in touch with my mum or my little brother. First of all I don’t know any story about them. I don’t know if they are alive or not, and to be honest at some point, a part of me wants it to be kept like this, because I don’t want to know the truth if they’re alive or not. I’m in a good place now and it’s better that way, because it took me years and years to decide that okay, this is my life, and I accept it.”

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