A Bradford student, who arrived in the UK as a refugee from Africa during her teenage years, has been selected to voice a BBC cartoon about the plight of other child refugees.
Selame Negussie, who studies at Bradford College, has narrated an animated tale of a 14-year-old girl who, after being forced to flee her home in Eritrea, made the treacherous journey to England.
The short, called ‘Ruth’s Story’, was originally made for CBBC’s Newsround programme and is on the broadcaster’s website.
In the story, Ruth decides she must leave Eritrea after being told she either had to marry someone she didn’t know or join the military.
A harrowing journey by foot, lorry, boat and train through Sudan, Libya, Italy and France saw her eventually reach England, where she now lives with a foster family.
In their search for someone with an East African accent to provide the voiceover, programme makers contacted an Ethiopian restaurant in Leeds, Melkam Megeb, which is run by Selame’s family and the 21-year-old agreed to travel to Media City in Salford for the recording.
Having made the move to the England from Africa – albeit in less traumatic circumstances – and having done volunteer work with refugees in Bradford, Selame was thrilled to have been chosen to help with the educational piece.
“I hope that the children who watch this will become a bit more understanding when they see other children like Ruth, who didn’t speak English when she arrived in England, struggle in school,” she said.
“I hope that instead of laughing at them or mocking them, they can actually help them and become friends with them.
“Fortunately for me I did not go through such horrors, all thanks to God. But I do know of some people who have been through something similar.
“I’m very happy that Ruth is now in a safe place and I hope that her story can be used to voice the voiceless and help put an end to the current immigration crisis.
“The fact that I used my voice to tell the story of the girl from the same background as me felt amazing.”
Selame joined Bradford College in 2013, after moving to the UK. Having successfully attained GCSE and AS Levels at the college she is now on a science course that she hopes will help her progress to study psychology at university.
The cartoon can be seen at www.bbc.co.uk/newsround/36714334