Saturday, 17 September 2016

Nujeen Mustafa appeared on

our television screens last year on from her arrival in Germany.
I had already had news from a friend in Germany about what was happening to this feisty teenager from Syria but it was good to see her.  She was still smiling, still determined, still making the most of every opportunity that comes her way.
And she is homesick. She wants to go back to Syria some day.
Nujeen is going to school. She is speaking German. I'm told it is good German too. Her English is excellent - and the truly extraordinary thing is that she taught herself English. Who would have thought that "soap operas" would be so useful?
In our national parliament this week we had one of the new Senators calling for a halt to migration from countries like Syria. I don't doubt that she was expressing the beliefs and fears of many others - after all her party obtained around half a million votes. The reporting may have been "selective" but it was definitely inflammatory. Later we had a member of the lower house, a member of the ruling coalition, appearing to back her up. 
I think I can understand where they are coming from but, if you denied entry of everyone from such places, then you would deny someone like Nujeen.
We need Nujeen.  We need Nujeen because she sets an example to everyone. I don't doubt that there are teenagers in Germany who are tired to death of hearing about her, who wish their parents would just stop telling them how lucky they are and how they should be more like her in their attitude. I wonder what they will think when they are older?  
But it is not just teenagers who can learn from Nujeen. The rest of us can too. Her story is about making the most of what you have and, more than that, using it to go further. Stuck at home with only television for company? Why not teach yourself English? Yes, it is possible. 
Nujeen is the sort of refugee we surely want to help. She says she hopes she is working hard. I am sure she is. I know she has a lot of schooling to catch up on but I have the impression of a young girl who, given the opportunity, could make it to university and then do a great deal more good.
She is entirely different from the taxi driver I met recently. He spent the, fortunately short, trip complaining about the lack of opportunities here and how he couldn't work in his chosen profession of engineering. He, a refugee, was thinking of returning "home".
I listened. I didn't bother to explain that his qualifications in engineering were  not considered to be adequate in this country and that he would need to upgrade his qualifications.
After all, he said he had been here almost four years - and, even to me, his English was almost unintelligible. 
Keep working Nujeen.

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