"The Mind is the Most Important Part of the Body": Elise's Story

We got to know Elise* through Upbeat Communities. This is her story.


I went to school in my country until I was fifteen. My family and I then moved to Uganda. I completed my high school education before I came to the UK. During my O Levels I was an information prefect: a school journalist writing about the news of the world and delivering it to the whole school each week.

I had a few assistants that helped me do the job well and we raised up younger students. It was so nice, and it helped me with my public speaking. I think this is when I started to be interested in the world around me. It opened my eyes to the fact that there were ongoing wars. It made me think about how I was living, and I started to act in more selfless ways.


When I finished high school, I couldn’t get further education in Uganda. It was so expensive, and I didn’t qualify for a scholarship as I was classed as an international student. There was no funding available and we couldn’t afford it. I went back to my home country.

At this point, a lot of things had happened in my life: going back to my country meant that my safety was jeopardised, I was under strict observation and I had no freedom. Life became threatening, I didn’t know if I would make it from one day to the next and I couldn’t go back to Uganda. I had run out of options.


That was when I decided I had to find another way of getting an education.  

I came to the UK at the age of twenty. I’m so grateful to come to a place where I can further my education. Eighteen months after I arrived in the UK I started college. I’m doing social sciences. It is so interesting learning about culture and psychology.

I am applying to university. It’s very overwhelming but it’s a satisfying feeling. So much of what I’ve gone through has been because of lack of freedom to get an education and it feels like it’s paying off. I feel accomplished and I haven’t even started yet. 


My dream is to be a Psychotherapist. In my country I saw so many children who grew up with broken parents in broken homes. I saw people taking their hurt from generation to generation and I wanted to do something about it.

For years I felt like there were so many unanswered questions that I’ve had since I was a child. "Why do people do what they do? Why do we come to such hateful measures?". Growing up listening to stories of how people were treated, and the measures of hatred was horrendous.

When you’re a child you don’t know what to think. I find it strange because nobody I knew had any older family members: they had died in the wars. As I grew up I started to understand more, and I started to ask myself "What can I do? How can I contribute to making the world a better place?".


I think my experience of seeking asylum has inspired me to help others who feel like they have lost hope too. The mind is the most important part of the body. If I can help change people’s mindset, maybe I can do my bit to help.  

*Name changed

We want to serve people like Elise through our Welcome Boxes project (welcoming new arrivals), English classes (helping integration) and community integration activities (fighting isolation through shared experiences). Read more about our work here.

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