Unity Sisters – The Journey to Peace

Unity Sisters held their uplifting and hopeful performance in Kinning Park Complex on Saturday, 17 June.  

By Shona McCallum, Refugee Festival Scotland volunteer blogger 

‘The Journey to Peace’ brought the community together for a joyful showpiece that told the story of Unity Sisters and showed how the organisation works.  

Unity Sisters was founded in 2014 by and for asylum-seeking women in Glasgow. As Virginie Clayton, from the group explained: “Whatever we do, we support women… and we empower ourselves.” 

This spirit of community, solidarity, and authenticity was clear from the wonderful event. On the stage, the women gathered around a table and discussed the problems and difficulties they were encountering in Glasgow.  

They shared their experiences and gave each other advice. For example, a mother whose children were struggling in school was encouraged to talk to the head teacher. A nurse unable to find work in Scotland because of language barriers was encouraged to take ESOL classes to improve her English language skills.   

By the end of the performance, all the women had ‘good news!’ to share. They had overcome their issues and settled into life in Glasgow. Sisters with qualifications from their home countries – such as teaching, engineering, and nursing – were pursuing these careers in Scotland. Most importantly, and joyfully, they all had secured leave to remain.  

The women gathered with Scottish flags, wearing their own traditional clothes, and sang a song together; “I love Scotland, I love Unity Sisters.” Although all originating from different countries, languages, and cultures they united as New Scots. They had found community, a way to support and celebrate each other, in their new home.  

Afterwards, we all shared a delicious meal of jollof rice and chicken, followed by Iranian ranginak (a date sweet). All of it was accompanied by Scotland’s national drink, Irn Bru.  

The event was a perfect showcase of the festival’s theme of hope, and the optimism to be found wherever women gather and support each other. As Virginie Clayton said: “all nature of people give hope to others.”  

 

Refugee Festival Scotland 2023 runs from 16 – 25 June. Check out what’s on where you are.