The sounds and horrors of war are a distant memory for 25-year-old, Iraqi born Mohsin Al Harbi.
Hailing from Basra, in Iraq’s southern region, Mohsin arrived along with his family on the 12th March 2019, for one reason above all else – safety.
An unstable situation in the country left Mohsin with very little prospects and opportunities for employment and education and as such, he fled to Jordan before arriving in the UK.
Whilst in Jordan, Mohsin set out to restart his disrupted education and managed to complete up to Year 6 level education whilst simultaneously working in a variety of jobs to support his studies and himself with his jobs as a cleaner, photographer, waiter and wedding planner to name a few.
Once he completed his studies, he resettled in the UK.
Upon his arrival and perhaps unaware of just how different life in the UK would be, Mohsin sought and soon found the services of Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), who helped Mohsin understand how to access services such as health and education, write a CV, practise for job interviews and much more.
Mohsin’s innate curiosity and selflessness quickly shone through at PYF and within several months of being a participant, he asked to become a volunteer so that he could help others who find themselves in his former shoes.
PYF’s continuous advocacy and support of Mohsin wasn’t limited to a volunteer role, they enrolled him into ESOL classes to help improve his English language skills to help with his integration in the community and provided equipment to encourage him to practise and perfect his passion – photography.
Mohsin’s determination and ambitions didn’t stop there and has since become a full-time, paid employee at PYF as a Youth Engagement Officer, supporting participants on the MyCoventry programme, helping them with a host of integrational issues such as employment and education. He has also continued his studies and is enrolled at one of the local colleges, with high hopes of attending university to study physiotherapy.
When asked how it feels to work alongside those that have supported him so closely since arriving, he said: “PYF is the beginning for me to support people and I do want to go around the world to help people, working with PYF is a dream come true and I feel that I’m in the right place, nothing nicer than helping other people.
“When I first arrived in Coventry, I fell in love with the city, everything is so close to you, you have different people from different backgrounds and it’s such a warm and welcoming city”.
To add to his list of accomplishments, Mohsin can now proudly say that he has delivered a poignant and thought-provoking speech at an iconic, international peace forum as part of the MyCoventry panel at RISING Global Peace Forum 2021.
In front of a packed-out audience, during a week that saw speeches from Archbishops, former Prime Ministers, Lords and distinguished guests, Mohsin stood tall and shared his story on how he went from being a refugee to arriving in the UK and why he thinks it’s important now more than ever, to treat refugees and migrants with dignity and respect so they can transform their lives.
Mohsin described delivering his speech as: “An emotional moment, all the people around me have had a profound impact on me and I wanted to show them that I am thankful for all they’ve done for me. I’m looking forward to being able to share my story with others, to show them that anything is possible”.
Deputy Leader for Coventry City Council, Councillor Abdul Salam Khan, said: “Mohsin’s bravery, humility and appetite for constant learning is a testament to his strength of character. He has faced many obstacles throughout his life, but his hard work and determination is abundantly clear and will stand him in good stead now with the world at his feet and I want to wish him the very best for the future”.
Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Councillor David Welsh, added: “I would like to pay particular tribute to the outstanding support of PYF and programmes such as MyCoventry.
“PYF’s support of Mohsin and other young people who face similarly precarious and uncertain situations, is second to none.
“For many years PYF have been supporting young people throughout Coventry and the difference their support makes, particularly through programmes such as MyCoventry, to young participants physical and mental wellbeing cannot be understated.
“I’m proud to call them our partners and look forward continuing our vital work together”.