A MOTHER who had never been to school before arriving in Wrexham as a refugee and who is about to start a nursing degree has won a major award in recognition of her commitment to learning about adults.
When Fatma Al Nahdy made the trip to the UK from Yemen in 2015, she did not speak English. She was pregnant with her son and was 35 years old. Due to the ongoing wars and the turbulent situation in Yemen, she had never been to school.
Fatma was fluent in two languages ââbut could not read or write. Her son was born soon after arriving and she was determined to build a better life for him. So when offered the chance to enroll in an English as a Second Language (ESOL) course at Coleg Cambria, she was nervous but excited to take on a new challenge.
Just five years later, Fatma obtained ESOL as well as a Level 2 Diploma in Skills for Further Education and a Level 3 Course for Access to Higher Education. She passed her math and English at GCSE and continued to expand her knowledge by enrolling in ECDL, Welsh Beginner’s Courses and Interpretation.
Fatma’s goal has always been to become a nurse. She was recently admitted to a nursing degree at Bangor University and received the Inspire Award! Award, a recognition of his commitment to lifelong learning.
Fatma is one of the 12 winners to be recognized at Inspire 2021! Rewards. Coordinated by the Learning and Work Institute with support from the Welsh government and the European Social Fund, the Inspire! The awards recognize those who have demonstrated their commitment to lifelong learning, confidence building and the development of vibrant and prosperous communities.
Inspire Him! The awards are part of Adult Learners’ Week, which this year runs from September 20-26. Throughout Adult Learners’ Week, people in Wales will be able to participate in tasting sessions and live online sessions to inspire them to continue learning throughout their lives.
For Fatma, learning English was an essential part of settling and starting her new life in Wales, but her ESOL course also helped her discover the love of learning.
She said: âMy learning journey started when I arrived in the UK. I did not speak English and I cannot read or write in my own language although I can speak Arabic and Swahili. It was very difficult for me to communicate with others.
âI was nervous for the first class. I knew I was going to meet lots of new people and I was very shy at first. But it was a great class, my tutors helped me see the pleasure of learning and after a few months I started to feel more comfortable and confident in my English.
âWales is much friendlier than London. It was easy for me to practice my English because people are always happy to have a conversation with you. Learning English allowed me to go out and bond with the community.
âI realized that I liked the challenge of learning something new. Now I can speak, read, write and understand English very well. I can read letters independently, go to the general practitioner without a translator and support my son in his homework.
In addition to the challenge of learning new things, Fatma is motivated by her desire for her son to have a better life.
She continued, âMy son is my motivation and my inspiration. Learning during the pandemic was a challenge because I was also home schooling and taking care of him. Distance learning isn’t my favorite way to learn, but I’m doing well.
âI have always wanted to be a nurse, all the courses I have taken so far are to help me achieve this goal. It was not easy, but I managed to adapt and progress and now I am closer than ever to achieving my dream. I can’t wait to start my nursing degree next year.
âI like to learn two or three things at the same time, it helps me to discover new things about myself. I want to stay and live in Wrexham. I am proud of my community and want to contribute more to it in the future, so now that I am fluent in English I have started learning Welsh.
When she arrived in Wales as a refugee, Fatma received support from various organizations that helped her settle in the UK. Now Fatma is giving back by performing for other refugees like her, arriving in Wrexham with no English.
Fatma said: âI am very grateful to be where I am, and I would like to thank my tutors for helping me get there. They told me I was smart; no one had ever told me that in my life. They motivated me to continue my journey into nursing.
âI will never forget the support I received from community organizations that help refugees. When I arrived in Wales I was not aware of any of the supports available to me. I have stayed in touch with the women who have helped me and they are like family now, my son has two âeternal grandmothersâ.
âHomestart arranged transportation to and from college for me when it would have been very difficult to take public transportation. I had help with babysitting my son and support reading and responding to important letters.
âWithout all this support, I still wouldn’t be able to read and write. But here I win a national award. Sometimes I still can’t believe it. Before I started to learn, I had no dreams. Now I am on my way to a career that I love where I can help and take care of other people.
“My advice to anyone considering taking a course as an adult is to manage their time and focus on their goals – education is the key to life.”
Adult Learners’ Week celebrates lifelong learning, whether in educational institutions, at work, at home or as a leisure activity. From September 20-26, adults across Wales will be able to access introductory sessions and lessons, as well as success stories that show how learning a new skill can help you change your story.
Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language, said: âCongratulations to all the winners and nominees of this year’s Inspire competition! Rewards. There are some really life-changing stories behind this year’s participants, with some great examples of people overcoming personal challenges in their commitment to learn, and it is important to celebrate the achievements of all who have participated. Congratulations to everybody !”
David Hagendyk, Director for Wales at The Learning and Work Institute said: âWhat better way to realize the value of adult learning than to hear the uplifting stories from our Inspire! The laureats. Each of our winners demonstrates the benefits that lifelong learning can bring, from improving mental well-being to acquiring the skills needed to land a new job.
âWe hope their incredible stories inspire people across Wales to take this first step towards education. Whatever your motivation for learning new skills, there has never been a better time to change your story.
To find out what is happening during Adult Learners’ Week and for personalized advice on your own learning options and the support available, contact Working Wales on 0800 028 4844 or search www.workingwales.gov.wales.