The Interrupted Journey 1: Let's Write A Book

Samuel Remi-Akinwale is a young black man. In this photo he is looking into camera and smiling, wearing a red beret

Our guest writer this week is Samuel Remi-Akinwale. 

We first met Samuel Remi-Akinwale as a young person on a RECLAIM project leadership programme. From our first meeting with him we knew that he was an extraordinary person with the resilience and determination not just to manage major challenges but to change things for the better for others.

Samuel is currently studying Political Science at King's College, London. There he has started a new group, _iNTERRUPTED, bringing together students with experience of the refugee and asylum system.

We had the pleasure of working with Samuel this year in our programme for leaders with lived experience in the Migration and Refugee sector. It was great to catch up with him recently and we asked him about an exciting new project which _iNTERRUPTED has started.

In October 2019, I found myself at a youth leadership summit - the One Young World conference. It was a behemoth-sized event filled with young leaders pioneering, innovating and campaigning in their respective fields from across the world. I was in awe of everyone I came across and didn’t understand why I was invited into the space. They were not my peers.

In one of the talks, GeumHyok Kim, a North Korean defector, recounted a brief part of his experience discovering the ‘truth’ about his home and the difficult choice he made to flee. I remember feeling the sharp pinching pain in my chest during his speech and, as it drew to a close, he said “The North Korean regime will harass my family to try and silence me. Mum, Dad, I'm so sorry. But I cannot stop”. At this moment, my heart erupted in a cry of determination, anger and hope. I felt a roaring pain in my chest that sent tremors across my body. I left the conference set ablaze, understanding the power of storytelling and daring to be bold and lead.

Lost in a sea of my own passion, not knowing what to do following the conference, I met up with a young leader I met at the conference, Dr Victor Ugo. We ate and talked about our journeys and passions. He was a giant with an inspiring story and this meeting birthed the idea now titled ‘ _iNTERRUPTED’.

I left that meeting with the idea to curate and publish a book of stories of young migrants who have faced challenges accessing higher education, despite their years of residence in the UK. These stories would be accompanied with illustrations and policy recommendations to tackle the hostile environment created by the UK Home Office. My goal is for this book to push forward the amazing work organisations such as WeBelong, R.A.M.P and CORAM do, by bringing it to the forefront of public conversations using stories.

And so it began, I reached out to family and friends I knew had experienced this issue and asked if they were willing to anonymously share their stories through this book. Although some liked the idea, their personal lives kept them busy and required me to consistently bother them. Months down the line, I had made little progress on the idea. I’ve been in a similar position before. Trying to run projects by myself and not going as far as I would like with them. Fortunately, some friends were interested in the idea and really wanted to help. So, I enlisted their help, and I assembled a team: a writer, an illustrator, a logistics guru, 2 others who have lived experience with this issue and the network to bring the idea to life and me - Samuel Remi-Akinwale

By the 1st of March 2020, we had a chat titled ‘Let’s Write A Book’ and despite the chaos of the Coronavirus, we had our first meeting on the 1st of May 2020. I was overjoyed, it was the first team I had assembled myself and we were about to write a book.

Writing a book is significantly more difficult than expected.



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