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The Mount Welcomes Uganda 50 Visitors & Exhibition


Today we were honoured to welcome visitors from Uganda 50. This important travelling exhibition raises the profile of Ugandan Asians who were forcibly removed from Uganda under Idi Amin’s rule in the early 1970s.

Happy and successful Ugandan Asians were told, almost overnight, to leave their homes, pack one small suitcase and given only £50 to start a new life in the UK.

Visiting speaker, Shamim, shared her family’s story with pupils from Years 3 to 7, and ran fast-paced workshops to highlight how families had to pack lightly and quickly.

Shamim’s family of ten went from a comfortable life in a hot country, to shivering and penniless in the UK where they arrived as asylum seekers before applying for refugee status. They have since thrived in the UK and today celebrate their achievements despite their challenging start.

Speaker Fazila brought in tiny homemade dolls she had carried with her from Uganda fifty years ago, when she arrived in Birmingham in 1972, before moving to York in 1974, where she has lived ever since.

Shamim and guests also highlighted the plight of refugees worldwide, sharing some surprising and shocking statistics that: there are 36.4 million refuges across the globe, 1% of which are located in the UK, and 43% of which are women and children. In the UK, asylum seekers are currently given £6.77 to live on per day.

Pupils asked empathic and insightful questions.

Luna said, “It must have been so difficult to pick just a handful of things in a small suitcase and not be allowed certain, even essential things, like medicine and food and water.”

Eliza said, “It was sad to hear of how people had to leave their homes and families in a rush and how different people can experience such difficult things in other parts of the world.”

Shamim said: “My daughter and I found The Mount pupils to be so very polite and perceptive. This is one of the best schools we have visited for impeccable behaviour and excellent, thought-provoking questions. The junior school pupils impressed us with their knowledge of the difference between asylum seeker and refugee status.”

Head of Junior School, Rachel Capper, said:

“This exhibition is a ‘must-host’ for schools and organisations across York. Huge thanks to Shamim and her family and friends for giving up their time to share this powerful testimony.

The content is difficult at times but it’s so important that young people look at the mistakes of history to prevent them happening again. I was so impressed with the mature way our pupils approached these themes and the empathy and understanding they showed, which is truly Quaker.”

The exhibition boards – which charts the challenging journey of many Ugandan Asians – will be available to view at The Mount School on Saturday 9 March 10am – 1pm when the school open day takes place.

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