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Former refugees reunite at Chalk Farm school where they met

PUBLISHED: 16:41 23 June 2017 | UPDATED: 16:41 23 June 2017

Two former refugees who befriended each other after coming to the UK as 12-year-olds have met again at their old school in Chalk Farm. Picture: BRITISH RED CROSS

Two former refugees who befriended each other after coming to the UK as 12-year-olds have met again at their old school in Chalk Farm. Picture: BRITISH RED CROSS

Archant

Two women who arrived in the UK as refugees have returned to the school where they became friends.

Theresa Mgadzah Jones and Meena Diwan returned to Haverstock School where they were pupils in the 1970s to talk to students about their experiences.

Theresa, 56, came from Zimbabwe with her parents and three siblings as the war for full independence was breaking out.

Meena travelled to the UK with her family in October 1972 after Idi Amin’s expulsion of Ugandan Asians.

They were filmed in conversation in a classroom at the Chalk Farm school as part of the British Red Cross’ Refugee Week Conversations Project.

Recalling her school days, Theresa: “I remember our form tutor Miss Blackyear introducing us. Bearing in mind that I had grown up in a country that was segregated again, like you, I felt quite strange being in a school where all the faces, the majority of the faces, were white.

Meena, 56, added: “Coming to England, life wasn’t that easy for us. We struggled quite a lot. My brother had to leave his education and go and try and help the family.”

Now married with two children and living in north London, Meena feels her life has completely changed.

“I feel more settled. I have a job. I have work and I’m happier. But, you know, that opportunity was given to me by this country. Had it not been given, I don’t know where or what would have happened to us,” she said.

The video is also available on the British Red Cross’ YouTube, Facebook and Twitter pages and at blogs.redcross.org.uk

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