Mo Farah – The British Dream
Much has been made of the American Dream – a set of ideals, that regardless of whoever you are, the opportunity for prosperity and success is possible through hard work and determination. Notable examples include Oprah Winfrey, and of course Barack Obama, and now Britain has its own shining example of the British Dream.
When eight-year-old refugee Mo Farah arrived in the UK from Somalia, life as a double Olympic winner, would not have even been a pipedream. Speaking little English, just three English phrases: "excuse me", "where is the toilet?" and "c'mon then", Farah had left civil war in Somalia for a new life in the UK. Against this difficult early start, Farah’s accomplishment is all the greater. Two days ago, Farah made his dream a reality, winning not only the 5000m and 10,000m races, but winning the hearts of the nation too.
Despite the obvious joy in his win, I was most touched by the tremendous example which he sets for all Britons. His victory and human journey shows that migrants have the potential to make great contributions to the nation if, or despite, the policy hurdles. By addressing these hurdles we will enable refugees and migrants, such as Farah, to realise their potential and make their mark on British life, thereby dismissing the myths which inhibit integration.
The UK refugee population is just 2% of refugees and displaced people worldwide, putting us behind countries like Pakistan, Germany and Kenya. Nevertheless, the public perception and reaction to refugees can sometimes be a negative one. For many refugees, human needs of stability and security are the utmost concerns.
Once the complex and intimidating process to secure the permission to stay in the country has been navigated, this initial success, can sometimes be quickly replaced by a less than generous welcome as they encounter a sea of public distrust.
Misinformation and scapegoating has created negative reactions to refugees and more than 4 out of 10 respondents in a recent British Future poll believed that more than 10% of the population - some six million people - are refugees. In fact, there are only 200,000 refugees which accounts for a mere 0.4 % of the population. Perception and reality could not be further apart.
Therefore, as MoMania and the MoBot sweep across the country - Farah’s personal and sporting victory is all the greater and is a lesson for us all.
Mo Farah. War refugee. Immigrant. Proud Brit. Olympic champion.
Long live MoMania!