I’m Rend, born in the UK to an Iraqi political exile, my father Samir Sumaidaie. He has campaigned all his life for democracy, human rights, civil liberties and against corruption.
My father worked tirelessly over 35 years against the Saddam regime, he worked to counter misinformation within Iraq by publishing a newspaper which he was successful in doing until the chemical bombing of the Kurds by Saddam. I talk about my father a lot because without him, I would not be who I am. He taught me, from a very early age that standing up to oppression, protecting others from bullies, looking after your friends, all these things and more are what makes us human beings.
Hello. My name is Agnes Toth. I was born in Hungary in the 80s before the iron curtain fell. I grew up in a village on the outskirts of Budapest. My own family has a long history of suffering under Soviet oppression.
My grandparents were farmers when the Russians came to ‘liberate’ us. They lost everything they had: first their food when Russian soldiers pointed their guns at them to hand over every food in the house they had; then the army came and took all their wheat for the entire year leaving the family to starve with children in the family. My grandfather’s sister, a teenage girl at the time, has been traumatized for her life by something the family never spoke about… She developed serious paranoia and not having had much needed support back then, never returned to a healthy mental state. Only as an adult could I start imagining what may have happened to her during the Russian invasion, what the family’s reasons might have been to never talk about the incident…
I’m Audrey. I was born in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and a British father. My father was military, and we moved around often. I think it was this habit of moving that gave me my need to travel.
After years in the “rat race”, I discovered a passion for teaching and spent a year in Morocco volunteering as an English teacher for various groups. It was during this time that I started the basic groundwork that would become Fluency First.
When the War started in Ukraine, I wanted to help, and quickly filled my time by helping match hosting sponsors with refugees. I was part of a wonderful team that did an amazing job, but I felt my skills were better used in another way. So I started by teaching arriving Ukrainians how to speak “survival English”; not the English you need to pass tests, but the English you need to be able to open a bank account, or how tell a doctor how you are feeling.
I was born in Madrid, Spain and grew up going back and forth between Yorkshire, England and the Canary Islands before finally settling down in the UK.
The Canary islands was an international and traditional Catholic environment, where helping and welcoming people to our open and inclusive society was all the norm. In Yorkshire, the communities ran a silent language of nodding approvals or disapprovals to the rhythms of the subdued mill towns, with people keeping to themselves to themselves, not questioning their place in society. Here I was sent to All Saint’s Catholic College in Huddersfield, which had a strong humanist and social tradition. It was here where in my mid-teens I got involved with Oxfam. Through raising funds for the Vietnamese boat people in the 1970s I learnt that we don’t need to accept the injustices of the world, if we are able to help no matter how small, we can be effective with a butterfly ripple.