Having a journey, starting it and staying on path

16/12/2016 – Naima Swaleh is a Pathways student, Youth Councillor and Volunteer at the London Academy. Here she tells us about her journey and how Fight for Peace and its staff have supported her to succeed on her chosen path:

People talk a lot. They ask a lot of questions. There’s a lot of silences and then there’s you, staring, pretending to listen. And somehow you remember the promises you made yourself, the ones you broke and the ones you couldn’t even bare thinking about. Those things make you uncomfortable, they make you feel disempowered and the only option you have is change.

So here starts my story with Fight for Peace. In 2015, I decided to make some changes because I was certain this time there’d be no broken promises. Fight for Peace offered me the chance to complete a qualification in maths and english, the precise qualifications I needed to embark on a new journey, making it to university!

It’s important to note that it wasn’t half as simple as that; having a journey is one thing, starting it and staying on path is another. I started Fight for Peace living in a refuge, a few unsolved emotional issues and a whole lot of self-doubt. It seems like a recipe for calamity.

At first, it kind of started like that. I began the education programme being the oldest in my class. I’m not sure why, despite the positives the course had to offer, my age is what stood out to me. Perhaps I was looking for a reason not to succeed. I found one though, no more broken promises this time. It was Allyson, Assistant Education Coordinator at Fight for Peace, who reminded me of how much I needed this.

She was more than just a maths teacher, and I wonder if she knows that she was a mentor and a motivator. I didn’t just look to her for help, I thought of her when I felt close to helpless. And that fuelled me to keep going.

Transition. That’s the word I’d choose to summarise this experience. The day I started, up until now, the trajectory still leaves me a bit dazed. I want to make this point quite clear: the experience was multidimensional; there are so many elements I had to grapple with that I had no idea existed. I didn’t think I’d have to confront personal emotional issues, until someone at Fight for Peace approached me once and mentioned that I shouldn’t fear being judged. I thought what simple advice but how important. 

Fight for Peace had no obligation to do that, the staff and attendees did not have to hold up a mirror and show me who I am. But they did so and they did so without any bitter judgment. I’ll give you an example, this year I was in the midst of tremendous emotional turmoil. I participated in Fight for Peace’s training but then took off some self-appointed time to dwell. Steve, the Sports Coordinator, somehow had the unique ability of understanding everything I thought was unspeakable, frustrating. He wasn’t sympathetic, he grasped it. At one of my weakest moments, he just understood.

I spoke earlier about the qualifications I had to complete for university and the great level of help I received at Fight for Peace, but it was the self-development that prompted the transition. You see, when a mirror being held up in front of you, you can’t walk through it, and you can’t walk in the other direction without glancing back. You better face it. It was the best thing I ever did, I know my weaknesses a little better without resenting them. I see the same weaknesses in other people and I don’t think they’re weak at all for having them, they’re human.

It’s the wonderful team at Fight for Peace that brought me to this realisation. Now I’m a lot closer to my goal. I feel like there’s a future out there for me one without broken promises. And I’ll leave you with this: the harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.