January 23, 2020

My Sons Life Is Being Taken Away – Because He Turned 18
Thirty years of fostering has had its share of highs and lows but for me the worst moment was having to tell my foster boy Samet that effectively his life was over. His crime? Turning 18. Every time I read the news at the moment I see story after story about immigration and “points” and “salaries”. That’s why I want to tell my story. Because Samet isn’t a number of points or a salary, he’s a real person whose life is being taken away. Samet’s life has already been so unfairly difficult. At 11, his drunken father forced him to beg on the streets of Tirana in Albania to support his family. At 15 he was taken to Brussels and what happened to him there has traumatised Samet so much that he still can’t talk about it.As soon as he turned 18, we had the shock of the Home Office trying to deport him.Samet was trafficked into England and it’s quickly become his home. It’s the first place where he’s finally felt safe, protected and loved. I’ve loved fostering Samet and we’ve worked hard together to help him build a life here. He’s learnt English incredibly fast and is training at college to become a carpenter. Related... I Was On My Seventh Foster Home. Then A Family I Barely Knew Took Me In Duchess of Cambridge Felt 'So Isolated, So Cut Off' After Having George A few months ago Samet turned 18. Samet’s classmates from college have all been celebrating their milestone birthdays – giddy at the freedom that lies ahead for them as adults. But for Samet, as soon as he turned 18 we had the shock of the Home Office trying to deport him. It’s disgusting that the same country that welcomed Samet three years ago now can’t get rid of him quickly enough, just because he’s had his birthday. After all that Samet has been though, how can the system be so cruel?Many young Albanians are trafficked to the UK but very few get asylum. Most go into hiding and are left vulnerable to traffickers and gangs with their lives in ruins. It says it all that people would rather live as ghosts rather than be returned to a country deemed “safe” by the Home Office.So I started a petition on Change.org for “a future for Samet”. I can’t believe that already over 260,000 people are supporting our campaign. I sent out a cry for help that has opened the public’s eyes to Samet and the many other trafficked young people now in hiding. Knowing I’ve got hundreds of thousands of people supporting me probably makes me the foster carer with the world’s biggest support network. It feels like these people have given us a hug and given me a voice that I must use to change this madness. I am a foster carer and helping broken children is what I do. To then throw them out like rubbish is not something that I will do.As a nation we take in these children, we care for them, we educate them, we train them and we show them compassion. My elder Albanian boy Ali had also to fight to stay at 18. Four years ago he came here like Samet on the back of a lorry. Today he is a head chef at 20 and paying his taxes, contributing greatly to our society and repaying our investment in him.There are many foster carers fighting for children like Samet but due to my petition I am the one who now has the voice and therefore the responsibility to speak up. I know that I have to use that voice not just to save Samet, but to tell a different story to the one by politicians who are demonising immigration by turning people into “points” and “salaries”.It should never have been the case that I needed to start a petition and tell my story publicly to try to persuade the Home Office to let Samet stay. And it should never have been the case that Samet, his classmates and myself needed to travel from Bristol to London to visit the Home Office and hand deliver our petition. These are young people who should be carefree and at college, not scared that their friend is about to have his life taken away.Now we’re waiting for the result of our latest appeal to the Home Office and I hope they listen to the huge public support for Samet. Remember when you read stories in the news about immigration facts and stats that it’s real people like Samet, people who have suffered traumatic childhoods and been victims of trafficking, that we’re talking about. Help me save Samet by supporting our campaign at change.org/afuture4sametJohn Stokes was one of the UK’s first single male foster parents.Related... I’m A Mental Health Nurse. This Is What It’s Like On The Frontline Of Our Strained Services Black And Brown Mums Like Me Are Judged Differently. Here's How I Know I Was On My Seventh Foster Home. Then A Family I Barely Knew Took Me In
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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