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Fatima Elaysi’s Speech from the launch of OPEN – June 2019

As part of our role to amplify the voices of those seeking sanctuary in Hastings, we are publishing the speech given by local woman Fatima Elaysi who came to the UK through the Vulnerable People Resettlement Project (Formerly the Syrian Resettlement Project).

Fatima is an artist, and has recently received offers from four major UK Universities to continue studying Interior Design and Architecture, which is her passion. Fatima has been leading on the consultation for the design of our new Cultural Café and Exhibition Space OPEN, which is an ongoing piece of work designed to bring together all interested parts of the community to input into the new collaborative space.

Fatima gave this speech at the launch of our new Creative Café and Exhibition Space OPEN.

Fatima is an inspiration to us all at Hastings Community of Sanctuary and we hope this speech will be an inspiration to everyone who reads it!


Hello Everyone. My Name is Fatima Esayli. I’m from Sudan.

I came from Lebanon to the UK with my wonderful family, and we’ve been in Hastings for seven months.

Actually, since I came here everything has changed. In the UK, and especially Hastings I have found great human kindness and respect. My family and I now live a sense of safety and security.

I’m sorry to say that before we came here we were around people who acted without humanity. I would say they were humans but had no humanity.

When I came to Hastings, my family and I were introduced to different people who helped us a lot. They were from the organisation who are opening this café, Hastings & Rother Refugee Buddy Project. These people are always ready to help us in any way possible. They visited us and now they are no longer guests in our home, but part of our family.

They have listened to my hopes and ambitions for my life. They’ve taken me through the process of applying to universities. This has included accompanying me to Open Days and interviews. In the Lebanon my course in Interior Design and Architecture was interrupted after a year. I’m happy to say I have now been offered a place at Brighton University to continue studying this subject.

I am very surprised to find that this help is done on a voluntary basis.

If you want to be part of this amazing project of kindness, then I invite you to join us now…here…today. Please come and share with us any skills you have. You might want to run workshops or fundraising events, or you want to help in the café.

So please, go and talk to the Buddies. Please can the Buddies put up their hands and wave!

I will finish by welcoming you to our café and please come back and visit.