Congratulations Evelyne and Ali!

Yesterday evening at Newcastle City Centre, Evelyne Mbatkop Nana and Musa Hassan Ali received special Lord Mayor’s awards commemorating the first anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s death. The awards were in recognition of the work they do challenging injustice and helping to build stronger communities.

Mandela Award 2014 6

Musa Hassan Ali and Evelyne Mbatkop Nana have worked for many years at West End Refugee Service. Both have refugee backgrounds: Ali came as an asylum seeker from Rwanda and Evelyne fled Cameroon. Both therefore are perfectly placed to support the many men and women who have been subjected to brutal treatment in their home country and who have suffered bereavement and prolonged separation from family and friends. An important strand of WERS’ work is the education and awareness-raising programme. WERS gives talks all over the region in schools and universities, community groups and faith groups. Last year 2,500 people of all ages heard a talk by a member of WERS and Ali and Evelyne have played a crucial role in this aspect of WERS’ work. Both have a passionate desire to help local people understand asylum issues and were keen and willing to take on these additional responsibilities. Ali’s and Evelyne’s talks change views and opinions. Their stories have an extraordinarily powerful effect on those who hear them. Talking about painful and difficult episodes in one’s life is far from easy, but their determination to inform and help people understand what causes people to flee their countries has given them both the courage and tenacity to speak out and give a marginalised group of men and women a much-needed voice. Everyone at WERS is very proud of them!

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