It’s with great sadness…

???????????????????????????????It’s with great sadness that I have to tell you all that our attempts to help Ria in her quest to help women in Bangladesh has failed.

Despite wonderful support from you all last year – raising all the fees we needed so that she could take up a place offered at Lancaster University to take a Business degree and stay with my family while she studied – we were finally laid low by the current government’s immigration policies and typical English bureaucracy.

With everything in place and even the first year’s fees paid up front and in full, we simply awaited the rubber-stamping of Ria’s visa last August. We didn’t expect that Ria’s interviewer at the British embassy in Dhaka would ask her odd questions like ‘how much are the course fees for similar courses in other parts of the UK?’ Why on earth would she know the answer to questions like that? The result was the interviewer didn’t believe she was a bona fide student and refused her visa application.

In true British madness, Ria was permitted to appeal but not allowed to produce any new evidence including explaining why she couldn’t answer some of the questions (she couldn’t say what other universities were offering because she chose the one nearest to my family so she could reside with us – completely normal for a young Bangladeshi village girl who has never left her country before). The appeal was rejected on exactly the same grounds as before.

Lancaster University managed to persuade their person at the Home Office that this interview hadn’t been correctly undertaken and over December the visa was reassessed again. A third and final time it was rejected – again, no new evidence permitted so the exercise was completely pointless. Although Ria could apply all over again next year, so much time has been lost that her heart isn’t in it any longer and I don’t blame her.

My family and I were terribly upset and I am angry at the obduracy of civil servants and the British Government’s immigration policies which make it all but impossible for foreigners with genuine intentions to work or study to enter the country. We have other friends from Bangladesh who have gone through similar processes to work here and had a nightmare every single time. Indeed it seems almost the only way in is through illegal means which does nothing to curb the population’s paranoid xenophobia.

I have often written and spoken on the evils of the growing right-wing movements in Europe since the depression six years ago. In the UK, UKIP are now serious contenders politically having grown from the lunatic fringes into a trusted party. Like frogs in a pan slowing boiling to death none of us seem able or willing to do much to stop Nigel Farage and his cronies from marching on. That the Government is listening to him and making things harder for immigrants, despite the huge economic benefits the UK gets from immigration, is most concerning of all. Ria couldn’t have been any more perfect – great English, good A level grades, used to a British system, financially supported, set up to live in an emotionally safe environment where she can be both Bangladeshi and enjoy British life – it was all there and yet she couldn’t prove she was ‘a genuine student’.

Ria was devastated but has had to move on. Having put her education on hold for over a year so she could study here (ironically consider another reason she wasn’t genuine) she’s now begun her Business degree in Dhaka. This is far from ideal and something we’d hoped to avoid. Dhaka is one of the worst capital cities in the world and though my family used to enjoy breaks away from LAMB there from time to time, it wasn’t because we found the city safe and attractive! For a peaceful country, Dhaka is dangerous – especially from young women.

Our big concern now is that Ria’s parents may feel the need to leave LAMB to come and support her in the city. There may be nothing we can do about that but if we can ease the financial burden a little to make things easier then we will.

For this reason, my family and I will continue to support Ria and we would love to encourage you to do the same. Sonali continues to sell and I’m bringing a new version out in Bengali and English as soon as I’ve finished my collection of short stories. Money raised from the book, from the GoFundMe site or donations via the ‘Donate’ button on this page will continue to go to help Ria and her family through the next few years of her education. If you donated through the GoFundMe page I will be in touch soon to ask you if you want your donation returned or if you want it to go to her education in Dhaka.

What hasn’t been stopped is Ria’s determination to get a Business degree and do her part to raise the status of women in Bangladesh. I’ve known her for nearly ten years now and know her heart to be a good one (as are her parents). I’ll do what I can to help her succeed – I hope you will too.

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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16 Responses to It’s with great sadness…

  1. Seyi sandra says:

    I’m so sorry to read this, I hope she would try again next year.

    Like

  2. AdiC says:

    Where is the dislike button?! This is a really sad turn of events. Hope for the best in the future…

    Like

  3. ken- God bless Ria, and you for trying to help. This is so frustrating. – in a small way, I ran into the same thing dealing with an insurance company. They said they would reconsider, and I took the trouble to amass a lot of evidence, and then they just said the same thing they had said before, based on the same technicality, without considering any evidence.
    Fortunately, I was able to go higher up. And finally, win that one. I hope that Ria and you will also be fortunate
    best wishes
    doug

    Liked by 1 person

    • D K Powell says:

      Thanks Doug – it is frustrating indeed. Unfortunately we’ve gone as high up as we can and now it’s time for Ria to get on with her life and for us to do the same – separate for now but one day…

      Like

  4. Norah says:

    That’s so sad… and stupid! Nevertheless I hope her education in Dhaka goes well. I actually like Dhaka lol… but that’s probably cuz I’ve always been a city rat, plus the relatives I’m closest with live there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • D K Powell says:

      I know what you mean Norah. I find myself thinking the world is doing pretty well if Dhaka is as bad as it gets for capital cities! That said, I’ve known plenty of non-Bangladeshi visitors come there and think they’ve entered the gates of Hell itself! I guess it all depends on what your personal tolerences are. For me, I’d give anything to be back there right now…

      Like

      • Norah says:

        Exactly… it also depends on your living accomodations etc. We have it pretty well, having our own place and stuff… many find it bothersome staying at their relatives’ places. Recently though I’ve realized many have started to appreciate Dhaka for the new restaurants and cafés that have opened around the city with various types of food as a break from traditional Bengali food.

        Like

        • D K Powell says:

          I think that’s certainly very true about uptown places like Banani and Gulshan. There’s still a lot of areas in Dhaka though which – for bideshis at least – are virtually no-go areas.

          Like

          • Norah says:

            Yeah I suppose. But they’ve been modernizing Old Dhaka. But people from New Town are usually not familiar with that part of the city.

            Like

  5. How sad. I do hope she manages to put it behind her and continue her studies. It seems awful that we let in footballers but not people who want to better themselves and their own country. Grrr. Please keep my donation, I’m happy to have made it and hope it will help in some small way.

    Like

  6. This makes me sad..
    Maybe if they had questions relevant to ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE?! she could have answered them. I know her interview was at the British Embassy in Dhaka, but have you heard that Theresa May wants to (again) change the rules on what is required of and the entry of international students in the UK? Creating so many hoops to jump through will make the UK start looking as a very unappealing place to study and we will begin to lose international students altogether.
    Hopefully she can come next year. She seems very bright and determined.. It will happen when it needs to happen 🙂

    Like

    • D K Powell says:

      It doesn’t surprise me – Governments love paperwork and changing rules so you end up doing it wrong somehow. Universities are charged each time visa applications fail too and can lose their right to have international students at all if they have to many rejections. The result is a huge loss of income for many smaller colleges – some even have gone out of business.
      I think it unlikely she’ll try to come next year but…we’ll see. Here’s hoping 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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