Archive for April, 2014




I was born in this country to traditional Bangladeshi parents who were very traditional. After I left secondary school I got married so for a long time I was not in education.

As my kids got older, I started making up stories to tell them at bedtime. I really enjoy creating new characters with my imagination. Everyone told me what a good storyteller I was so I started writing a teen novel in secret. I was too shy to tell anyone.

I came to Heba in International Women’s Week 2011 for a creative writing workshop. There, I told Anne about my book. She loved it and said I should carry on with it. I started English Level 2 classes and now I volunteer in the office too. I gain confidence at Heba because I realise there are women at Heba, some of them in a far worse situation than me.

I know I will finish my novel soon. I feel I can achieve anything.

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My name is Sandra. I am 16 years old, I was born in Bangladesh and then I moved to Italy when I was 2 with my parents. Then we moved here to London this December.   It wasn’t my decision. I was doing well at school and I thought I would be able to carry on with my education here.

The problem was that I came to UK on December and school starts on September, unfortunately I came late. And the school won’t accept me until September.I missed all my friends from Italy and I was without anything to do or anything to learn. I thought: I will go crazy!

One day my dad told me about an organization called Heba, he was helping me find a college. I was excited, the first time that I came in Heba I was very nervous because I was the only teenager, but then day by day I had more confidence and now we are like a big family.   I am learning how to manage the main office and reception area. We are all volunteers on reception so we all work as a team to help the other women. That means I’m learning to be more responsible and have ideas and start projects. I am going to plan and run a weekly training session for women who want to know more about social media and how it works.

I like it very much; all the people here are very friendly and nice.  I have now applied for a college in Hackney.   I want to do childcare because I like working with children, it makes me happy.   I hope to start this September.   I can’t wait to start!

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I came to the UK in 2009 and it has taken me until now to find an English course that would accept me because I don’t tick the right boxes for free courses and I couldn’t afford to pay. I was desperate to attend classes because I have a degree in my country and I came here to work and make the most of myself, not sit at home

My local Ideas Store (library) told me about Heba and I was so excited. I came straight away to enrol. I like that Heba is a women only space. That’s important for so many women. Some who come to Heba are nervous around men because of past trauma, in war or a domestic situation. Other women have very controlling in-laws who would not allow them to attend a mixed centre. Heba is the first step for those women to come out of the house and learn better independence

I have only been coming to Heba for one month but already I have new friends and am happy to be learning. I am learning a lot at Heba, about English, computers, and life and systems in the UK. My dream is to be a teacher and I know I will have to study very hard to get there. Heba has given me a place to start from.

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A few years ago, I was living in one room of a shared house with my husband, who was a student, and our baby. Our living circumstances were harder than they would have been back home in Bangladesh, but we were willing to spend some years like that to invest in our future and our child. I like this country; it feels safe, a woman can travel on her own and go out to work. I want that for my family.
When my baby started walking things got a lot more complicated. Our housemates complained because he was so active and noisy. I took him out as much as possible and when we were at home, I used to play with him on the bed, always on the bed, so his feet wouldn’t make noise running around. I was worried all the time. I was sure he was more active than most children but I didn’t know why. Then, when he was slow starting to speak, I took him to the doctor and I found out he had learning difficulties and behavioural problems. I thought this was the end for him because in Bangladesh there is no help for children with learning difficulties and most never catch up, but here in the UK we were able to see an educational therapist. My husband and I learned how to help our son and I enrolled in English classes at Heba to help me communicate with him; my son doesn’t understand Bengali, so our relationship is all in English.
When I came to Heba, I found a lot more than English classes. I met new people, from my country and other countries. When you have problems at home it’s important to be able to go out and talk to people about other things, to remember myself and learn new skills. My teachers are very supportive.
Now, life is better. My son has caught up and he is happy and chatty now. I feel good about myself and can start to think about my future: I will keep working on my English and computer skills until my boy goes to school and then I will get a job.


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