Mursal Hedayat was 3 years old when she, her older sister, and her mother had to flee war-torn Afghanistan in 1994. Her mother, a civil engineer, hoped to continue her work when they arrived in the UK. But like many refugees, her education and experience weren’t enough. “It was like she left behind her professional identity,” says Hedayat. “Her qualifications weren’t recognized. And there was no way to get them back.”
So Hedayat’s mother began working as an interpreter. She trained to become a classroom language assistant, and now she’s a head teacher of a school for Afghan students in London. Her mother’s perseverance was the inspiration behind Chatterbox, an organization that trains refugees to lead online and in-person language tutoring.
“I had theory that we could improve the lives of refugees not just by giving them a job, but by increasing their social contacts and their confidence in themselves,” Hedayat says. “After we did our first pilot, it was one of the most profound moments of my life to see it was true in real life.”
“It’s taken me 26 years to even slightly comprehend what life must have been like for my mother. She’s the inspiration behind everything I do.”
To take her organization to the next level, she applied to the London Creator Awards. She ended up being a winner in her category, taking home $72,000. She’ll use the money to hire more people to her team, allowing her to concentrate on raising money and awareness.
“For the first year, Chatterbox was just me,” Hedayat says. “Winning funding from the Creator Awards means I can recruit the best staff. This is exactly the amount we need at exactly the time we need it.