After working with a human rights for women non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Nigeria, Mawedo – a proud Nigerian who gained her British nationality in 2004 – wanted to continue this type of work in the UK. Initially volunteering with RMC in 2018, this led to a full time role as an advisor and health coordinator, allowing her to empower marginalised people on a daily basis.
For me, my role at RMC allows me to be the voice that our clients may not have. This can be through supporting their immigration claims or by helping them to access health care, welfare, benefits and more. This is a very important thing to me, being able to support and empower people into better situations in their lives.
I remember when I worked for the human rights women’s NGO in Nigeria, I was part of the team who supported a lady who had suffered quite severe domestic violence at work. She was in such a dire situation and we were able to get her into hospital, away from the situation, and eventually helped her return to Ghana to her family by working with the Ghanaian High Commission in Lagos. The perpetrator was reported to the police and dealt with via the legal systems, and we were able to give her a voice she felt she had lost. This was one of my proudest moments and something I will never forget.
When I came to RMC as a volunteer I brought skills from my previous employment, but the staff at RMC have helped to develop other skills in me which I had no idea I possessed. They helped empower me and I want to be able to do this for other people. It’s one of the reasons that alongside RMC, I also teach at a Sunday school in my church. It’s a great feeling when the children get to a certain age and say: “because of what I was taught in Sunday school, I have been able to achieve a lot.” It’s not often you get to see the true impact of what you do, but when you get that chance it is such a great feeling.
In the future, I would love the chance to continue working with grassroots organisations, or even to start my own NGO! It’s a place you get put in the frontline, having to react quickly. The adrenaline of the work is amazing. You’re in the middle of it like a first responder, making an impact. Even those little changes make a difference.
I am very proud of my history, my culture and my faith and think this is something very important to share and celebrate. It’s why I teach children at Sunday school and why I am passionate about helping others. For me, celebrating Black History Month is a way to help people understand their roots and identify properly with themselves and other people from the same cultures. It can be very difficult blending two different cultures and you have to make sacrifices as to which is more important for you. More education and information about your own background and history helps people understand this and identify themselves, regardless of where they were born. They can simply stand tall and be proud of who they are!
Black History Month in the UK takes place from the 1st to 31st October. This national celebration aims to promote and celebrate black contributions to British society, and to foster an understanding of black history in general.
Over the next week, we will be sharing the stories, experiences and successes from members of staff and volunteers at the charity to coincide with the end of Black History Month.