Guest Speaker Awakin Circle with Child Refugee, Gulwali Passarlay

WHEN: November 14, 2019, 6:30pm
WHAT: In 2006, Gulwali Passarlay's mother arranged for him and his brother, Hazrat, ages 12 and 13 respectively, to flee from their rural village in Afghanistan and be smuggled across the world in pursuit of safety in Western Europe. His father and grandfather were killed in a shoot-out with US soldiers, leaving Gulwali and his brother as vulnerable targets.   They departed against their own wishes and just as their journey was beginning, the two brothers were separated.  Gulwali’s quest became twofold -- to find a safe place for himself to live, and to be reunited with his brother.

"His story is a deeply harrowing and incredibly inspiring tale of our times. 'To risk my life had to mean something. Otherwise what was it all for?' Gulwali Passarlay was sent away from Afghanistan at the age of twelve (and) began a twelve-month odyssey across Europe, spending time in prisons, suffering hunger, making a terrifying journey across the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, and enduring a desolate month in the camp at Calais. Somehow he survived, and made it to Britain, no longer an innocent child but still a young boy alone."  [From the Publishers of his book, The Lightless Sky]

On Thursday, November 14th, we invite you to come together for a reflective gathering with Gulwali Passarlay, who is graciously traveling down all the way from Bolton just to be with us.  Ani and Trishna had the joy of meeting Gulwali in January 2017 at an intimate gathering where he shared stories of his journey escaping Afghanistan to seek a new life in Britain as a child refugee.  We were incredibly moved by his presence, courage and passion to serve others, who find themselves in similar situations and to spread awareness of the plight of refugee children.   We are deeply honoured to welcome Gulwali to join us for this very special circle.

The plan for the evening is as follows...
  • 6:30pm - Sit in collective silence (For first-timers, this introduction on meditation may be helpful)
  • 7:30pm - Gulwali shares reflections and stories from his personal journey
  • 8:00pm - Q&A and circle of sharing with the group
  • 8:45pm - Home-cooked vegetarian dinner 
To join, simply RSVP below and we'll send you a follow-up email with the details.  For any children/teens without email addresses, who would like to join, please RSVP them using this Family RSVP link

We look forward to having you join us to share a contemplative space of reflection and plant seeds for co-creating more goodness in the world.

More About Gulwali Passarlay

In his memoir, The Lightless Sky, Gulwali vividly recounts his intense and grueling experience of making the one-year journey from Afghanistan to the UK as a child refugee fleeing from his motherland.  He recalls the number of times he desperately wanted to return home and be reunited with his family, but his mother had clearly instructed them not to return or their lives would be at risk. 

At the age of only 12, he made this treacherous journey alone across Iran and Turkey to Bulgaria, where he was thrown off a moving train then deported back to Iran and imprisoned. He managed to escape, ended up in an overcrowded boat sailing from Turkey to Greece when he narrowly escaped death. After arriving in Italy, which was the first place he felt safe and looked after, he suffered nightmares and intense emotions.  With hopes of reconnecting with his brother in the UK, he made his way to "The Jungle" in Calais and persisted in  eventually finding a way to get to Dover in the back of a truck transporting bananas.  Sadly, Gulwali's nightmare was still not over as the authorities wouldn't believe that he was only 13 years old, so he was denied foster care and the opportunity to go to school.  Eventually, he was fostered and attended a good school, which seeded hope and the possibility of many more positive experiences, including carrying the Olympic torch in 2012.

Since arriving in the UK in 2007, Gulwali has achieved beyond all odds with the help of a few people who made all the difference in supporting him to settle into life in the UK.   He recently graduated with a Politics degree from The University of Manchester and he is now studying for his MPA at Coventry. Gulwali has become a well-respected public speaker, influencer and political campaigner for refugee’s rights, social justice and education.   The experience of his journey to the UK shaped his future and inspired an insatiable determination and commitment to raise awareness and make a difference for other refugees.

We encourage you to read this recent blog post in which Gulwali shares in his own words about his journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan and how his life has unfolded since settling in England:  "Newly Arrived to the UK as an Asylum Seeker".    
WHERE:Pimlico, Central London
HOST:Trishna Shah

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