This is a story – A different story. This is Alice’s story.

By Linda Blankenburg

When Alice* was 29 years old she made a decision that was going to change her life. She decided to abandon her loved, always sunny home country Zimbabwe for cold, cloudy Cardiff, UK.

What does a woman from southern Africa want in the busy city of Cardiff? Alice left Zimbabwe because of religious and political persecution caused by President Robert Mugabe and his party the ZANU-PF. Mugabe has been ruling the country dictatorially leading it to an economic crisis.

But Alice didn’t only leave her country; she left her family, her friends and her dream job. Following two of her older brothers who were already living in Cardiff, she took the plane to the capital of Wales in order to start a new life. While reading this we have to keep in mind that the life we have here is completely different from life in other countries. Going out for a drink, walking alone on the streets at night – this is a luxury we might not appreciate enough. Nor do we value ever-present rights such as the freedom of religion or the right to vote.

14 years have passed since then and many things have changed. Not only did Alice get used to the (in her opinion) cold weather, but she also started appreciating life itself. Still, there are many difficulties to overcome: As for all asylum seekers, Alice had to apply for asylum in the UK. Though she was persecuted and leaving her country was the right decision, her asylum application has been rejected three times. At the moment she is waiting for a positive response from the responsible immigration authority.

Sometimes Alice is sad. She is sad because she misses her family and friends who are still in Zimbabwe. But she is also sad because she is not allowed to work or study here. In Zimbabwe she was working as an IT System Administrator – a job that suited her perfectly.

As she can’t work and therefore has a lot of free time, she started volunteering. Four days a week she helps in organizations such as Women Connect First in the heart of Cardiff. There she met many women who have been in similar life situations. Volunteering also helped her gain more confidence, and experience a loving and caring community. Although she hasn’t been to Zimbabwe since she came here, Zimbabwe will always remain her favourite country.

She would love to go back when the situation is better but right now it is still too dangerous. This is not the life she imagined and this is not the life she was dreaming of when she was a little child, nevertheless one can see that she is happy here. This is mainly due to the fact that she found peace here. She felt the peace she had been waiting for so long, the first moment she arrived at the airport.

Defining peace is a difficult question. Someone might find peace while doing yoga or just taking a bath and relaxing. But is this really the same peace other people feel? Alice’s definition of peace is being happy and content with what you have. For her peace is also connected to love and care. Alice definitely changed my perception of peace because I wasn’t aware of how lucky we are here. What is your definition of peace? Did this story change it?

*Name changed in order to keep privacy

This blog was written as part of a UNA Exchange / Wales for Peace project: A group of international volunteers from across Europe spent two weeks volunteering with a group of women  from Women Connect First based in Riverside, Cardiff. As they volunteered together, they shared peace stories.  

A week in the life of WCIA work experience…

Rhys Muzzupappa

Day 1

I arrived for my first day at the WCIA in the temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff, and after a brief Health and Safety introduction I was educated in what The WCIA does and the various projects under its control. As a keen debater and having attended numerous Model UNs, I already knew about the debating side of the WCIA through CEWC. I was particularly interested in Hub Cymru Africa – a new project that was launched in the Millennium Stadium on Tuesday (23/06). This organisation is funded by the Welsh Government and gives out grants to support organisations in Wales with partnership projects with Africa. I helped prepare welcome packs for the event which was interesting as I discovered more about the large Sub Saharan diaspora that is in Wales.

While not helping out I started researching and writing a blog. I will be doing mine on why I believe 16/17 year old should have the right to vote in the European elections. During this research I found out how leaving the EU would affect the youngest generation the most, and because of this we should have a say in what happens. I also found out that countries like Brazil and Austria allow 16 year olds to vote. The most interesting thing I found out about is that by giving the Vote to 16/17 year olds in the Scottish referendum 75% of them voted compared to only 54% of 18-24 year olds.

It was an interesting first day!

Day 2  

On day two I helped finalize organisation for the CEWC evening of debating that will happen on the 16th of July £5 for adults and £4 for concessions. To help organise this I was charged with phoning up a list of Welsh schools to try and confirm if they were planning on attending. This session was interesting and useful especially as it gave me proof of communication skills.  I also helped translate posters for the event. This was useful as it gave me a chance to use my welsh language skills

In the afternoon I carried on writing my blog about votes for 16/17 year olds during this time I started to work at the main substance of my blog. I found it interesting that most of the arguments for allowing 16/17 year olds where clichés “if you can join the army you should be able to vote” although I found some of these arguments valid  I wanted to look more specifically towards why we should be able to have a choice if our country leaves the EU.

Day 3

Day three was the least eventful so far at the WCIA. Today I had time to finish my blog, which I finally did and redrafted it.

I also did a lot of research into the MP’s in Wales and identified what areas would be relevant to WCIA advocacy. To do this I made a poster of all 40 of the Welsh MP’s and then listed their interests and if they were on any committees. This was interesting especially as I discovered some information about my local MP and her speaking and voting average in parliament, all of which were above average.

Day 4

On Day 4 I had an interesting day researching news stories to post on the WCIA Twitter and Facebook. To do this I looked through a lot of news websites like the BBC and  the Guardian. While doing this I found a lot of interesting news stories and in the end I chose 4 that I thought would be interesting to post.

The first news story was about David Milliband, Head of the International Rescue Committee who said that the world’s aid programmes are heroic but inadequate where they are most needed. This I thought was an interesting story especially due to the current problems in the Mediterranean. The only problem was that for twitter this needed to be 140 characters long and with an incredibly long link to the full story this was a challenge.

I also looked into the high number of journalists being put in prison in Egypt, a bomb threat by some democracy campaigners in Hong Kong, and Burma still allowing a military veto.  After this I learnt how to tweet these on a delayed link so that all the stories don’t come out at the same time.

Again this has been another interesting day, it will be my last day tomorrow and I am already sad that I have to leave, it is surprising how fast a week goes!

Day 5

Today was my final day at the WCIA and I was sad to be leaving. Over the past week I had gained a lot of experiences and learned a lot of new skills.

On my last day I finished re drafting my Blog. I also did research into different select committees to help with the WCIA advocacy side. By doing this I found a much better understanding of how the assembly works.

To sum up I had a great week doing work experience at the WCIA. I would recommend going to anybody with an interest in international relations. I also got to improve a number of skills that employees look for including communication. I also got to help on the social media side.

I would like to thank everybody at WCIA for putting up with me for a week.