“Food is hard to buy, prices are much higher than in India,” says Jay Patel, who said many young foreign students came to the UK to fulfill their dream, but are now mired in poverty without work or government assistance.
Despite the rain, dozens of young people like Patel, wearing hoods and shopping bags, gather outside the Newham Community Project in east London to collect rice, vegetables and other food.
“The condition for coming to the UK was that I did not ask my parents for money when I arrived,” says 19-year-old Greenwich University student Jay Patel.
“I did not tell my father about my condition because the infection was difficult for them,” he added.
Without the help of a food bank that distributes food three nights a week, it would be “difficult” for him and his colleagues to survive because of the high cost of college and living in London.
“We’ll definitely be hungry,” he says. “I really came at the wrong time,” he laments.
The United Kingdom, a popular destination for foreign students, is the worst-hit European country (about 120,000 people have died), but the worst-hit country.
Since the beginning of this year, the UK has been subject to its third lockout, making it almost impossible for a student to find work.
– “The greatest need” –
Despite the cold and rain, the line in front of the place reaches 300 meters from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Volunteers greet the regulations.
Inside, they try to serve the students quickly, throwing pockets of rice at each other.
On the ground, hundreds of carefully prepared bags allow you to prepare food, vegetarian or halal food.
This local association, rooted in the East London Indian community, began handing out food during the first lockout of Ramadan.
“Initially, we distributed 20 packages a day,” explains its manager Elias Ismail. “In three weeks, we have grown to over 800 students!” He shouts.
“The demand is huge, we’ve been doing it for ten months, and the number is growing,” he adds, and estimates that it now serves 2,000 homes a week.
Sometimes these are shared homes for 15 students because the rent in London is so high, he clarifies.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Organization, more than 400,000 non-European youth will be affected by the crisis by 2020, mainly from China and India.
In Newham County, Elias says 99% of those looking for food are Indians, “poor students”, “parents sometimes have to sell family jewelry” and they have to leave.
“Because of their visa type, they do not receive financial assistance from the government or the universities,” says Amena Ismail, a 21-year-old volunteer.
“It’s really captivating. They came with the hope of a better life. Suddenly Govt came and destroyed everything,” he adds.
– “Broken Dreams –
This is how 23-year-old Alpeb Shake came to England to fulfill his parents’ “dream of getting a real education”.
Six months after his arrival, imprisonment began. “Everything has gone from bad to worse since then,” says this postgraduate student at the University of East London.
Amidst the lack of money, lack of social life and online courses, he says it is “not worth it” to come to study in the UK at this time. “I pay for a Rolls Royce and they give me an old old Toyota,” he argues.
Mohammed Ahmed, 25, has been coming in for food for three months. He came to the country following his wife who was studying at PPP University.
“We had high expectations when we came to live in the UK, and they were disappointed by the epidemic,” he sighed. “If this continues, we will have to go home. We can not live like this,” he concludes.
cdu / gmo / pc / zm