Our guest blog this week is from Loraine Masiya Mponela. An asylum seeker, she is passionate about the rights of people in her position. Loraine had coaching from Hormoz at Result CIC.

Every experience in life matters.

Everyone in the family or in any form of set up has a unique role they play in other people's lives. At least, this has been my experience anyway. The people I have lived with have shaped my entire life and continue to, I guess. Some changes may have happened or are happening without myself realising, by just having interacted with others in one way or another. For example, every experience I had when I was growing up with my grandmother helped to shape the person that I am today from my values, my beliefs and more. As you can imagine or probably you already know this from your own experiences, she played a very crucial role at the most crucial time of my life from age 7 months. She passed on in January 2001. MHSRIP

Schools I have attended have influenced my growth in many different ways too. I remember my first day at school and my first teacher we used to call "Madam WaNyaGondwe". Being my first day at school and being so little I didn't pay attention to her, probably my brain had not even registered that I was in a different environment from home. A friend of mine and I started playing loudly while she was trying to teach us As and Bs. Definitely no teacher is happy with anyone who is not being attentive and on top of that distracting the rest of the class, so she had to do what most teachers know best: to discipline both of us in a way that she made it unforgettable. It is the reason why I still remember this event today. I never messed up in the classroom again at least for the first 8 years of my education. I became attentive in class and that could've been what helped me to be amongst the top 2 of the class.

Over the years I've had different classmates too like you all probably have. A mixture of oranges and apples or indeed lemons and avocado. All those experiences have, in a way, helped to shape my life and thinking, either from the chats we have had or indeed through other forms of interactions such as being in the same group for chemistry lab experiments sessions.

In the world of work it has been another mixed bag upon mixed bags for me- a mixture of salt, sugar and pepper. And I dont like pepper anyway in real life. Naturally.

I have been part of a team that has men only, both at home in Malawi and here in the UK. I do not mean it's bad, but it is a different experience.

Sometimes I had to walk away from toxic 'work' environments, although sometimes this hasn't always been possible. I have been bullied by a racist manager (phew, did I just say that?). Moments you feel tested to the limit, pushed to the hard wall and then squeezed. But I have had friends supporting me through all of that. "Still I Rise".

For the past 5 years or so I have also had the privilege to meet people from all around the world who have shaped my way of life and the way I see the world today. As part of the CARAG Community and StatusNow4All I have a role to play just as is for everyone within us Covid19 is new to the world. Its challenges have been felt everywhere with BAME communities being affected more in the UK. And so, my community has not been spared. In my quest to gain clarity about myself and how to cope and lead during the pandemic I enrolled on the Lived Experience (LEx) / Clore Leadership programme for the migration and refugee sector  I received a total of 4, 1 hour long coaching sessions as a result. My experience was a positive one. I came out of it confident. I am able to ask myself the right questions and plan my work better. My coach Hormoz from Result CIC is so experienced and helped me to gain the clarity that I lacked.

I am always open to new positive experiences for growth although not all end up to be as positive ones as expressed here.

Loraine Masiya Mponela is a migrants rights campaigner and organiser based in Coventry but originally from Malawi. She holds Masters in Public Health (Uni of Leeds) and BSc. in Environmental Health (Uni of Malawi). She is currently the chair of Coventry Asylum and Refugee Action Group. Loraine has a lovely son and loves fish.


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