“You can’t judge anyone unless you have lived their experience”

At age 17, Ruwayda Haroub, fled Somalia to seek refuge in Scotland. Arriving alone, not speaking English and with no money, Ruwayda set out on her journey to make a safer life for herself.

“I had only ever experienced my own country, so I was fearful for my life. I didn’t know what to expect or who to trust. First thing I did was go to a police station and I was scared as I couldn’t speak a word of English. All I could do was keep my faith and pray I would be safe.”

Supported by social work services, Ruwayda was placed in homeless accommodation and secured a place at college to learn English, while she began the process of seeking legal citizenship.

Throughout this process, Ruwayda was supported by the Scottish Guardianship Service, a vital service for unaccompanied and vulnerable minors arriving in Scotland.

When you arrive in a new country and you don’t speak the language, where do you even start? I don’t know how I would have coped without the Scottish Guardianship Service. They helped me every step of the way, with asylum, supporting me at visits to my lawyers and helping with translators. You could speak to them about anything at any time.

Determined to become independent and settle into her new life, Ruwayda, now aged 18, is fluent in English, and is going on to study Business and Accountancy at Anniesland College, with the goal of becoming an Accountant.

“I remember trying to watch TV and learn English, but I could only laugh when the actors laughed, that’s all I could understand. When I started college, I was so worried that I couldn’t do it but here I am today. I have made friends from all over the world. I am Scottish, but I am still trying to get used to the cold weather!”

Through the Scottish Guardianship Service, Ruwayda, got involved in the Year of Young People Create18 fund, a money grant for young people to run community events in order to showcase their talents to help challenge the negative stereotypes of young people.

“I worked as part of a team with five other young people from the Guardianship Service. We wanted to host an event on the Isle of Bute which gave everyone a chance to have fun and learn new cultures from across the world.”

“At the event we had traditional food, a fashion showcasing our traditional and modern dress such as the hijab, and a mash up of different dances with a multi-cultural ceilidh! It was a great day and it was so good to see members of local community come along and support.”

“Being involved has given me experience in managing a project and will help with my college course. I am so used to making my own decisions, but this has helped me be part of a team, we made sure we did everything together.”

I had never been to school and I came from a poor country, I sometimes judged myself and didn’t know if I could do it. But here I am. My advice would be if you don’t try then you will never know.”

More about Create18

A money grant that gives young people a chance to run events in their local area for YoYP 2018. The fund aims to give young people the tools to celebrate their talents, challenge perceptions and bring local communities together. It is run by Young Scot, on behalf of EventScotland.