Benefits of Mentoring
The contribution of Laamiga’s mentors, many of whom volunteer through our partnerships with local businesses and City firms, are pivotal to our ongoing achievements. By giving a little of their time twice a month, these volunteers are helping to transform the lives of refugee women here in London.
‘Laamiga’ in Somali means pathway – a pathway for mentees to find meaningful employment that unleashes their creativity and skills, and as a result, gain greater financial independence.
“Many of the women we work with have been professionals or strong leaders within their community in their home countries. They are intelligent and resourceful – they’ve had to be in order to start a new life,” says founder Dr. Emua Ali. “But settling in a new country presents many hurdles, like language barriers, lack of financial support and racial discrimination.”
Emua says the lack of self-confidence that results from both past trauma and cultural differences can have a crippling effect on the women they help, often limiting them to manual work.
“Our mentorships can change that. Mentors can be a sounding board, they can check things over, be contactable and offer non-judgmental guidance and support. They help set life goals, and help the women to help themselves.”
Emiko Singh, a lawyer at global law firm Clifford Chance, is a mentor to Sarah, a single woman from Eritrea. Sarah had worked various short-term jobs, including at a take-away and grocery store and, more recently, as an evening office cleaner. Emiko worked with Sarah to enhance her CV and improve her computer and internet skills, helping her apply for and secure a job providing interpretation services for underprivileged children and refugee families.
“Sarah and I have developed a wonderful bond over the last 18 months and learnt so much from each other,” says Emiko. “My belief in Sarah has made her believe in herself – and in turn, the strength with which she faces life’s challenges inspires me every day.”
Laamiga’s mentorships have seen many more success stories, such as mentees progressing from working in catering to owning their own catering company, or being unemployed to gaining a degree and working in health & social care for the NHS. Benefits of these partnerships are rarely one-sided, agrees Emua.
“What I get to see is two hearts connecting. Two cultures connecting,” she says. “The synergy that develops is really quite phenomenal.”