From DRC to North Kensington: My journey to organising
Organising is about doing things together – being allies, being true to each other – so you can challenge issues affecting your community.
My name is Didier Ibwilakwingi Ekom and I am originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I came to the UK in 2003, with no knowledge of English, not knowing what lay ahead of me. After years of involvement in my community, I became a Community Organiser at Migrants Organise in 2017.
I first joined Migrants Organise as the first ever volunteer in the mentoring programme. As a mentor, I supported asylum seekers and am particularly proud of supporting a mentee who got refugee status and is now working full time and is well integrated into UK society.
During this time I came to realise that people from DRC living in the UK did not have appropriate support. Together with other Congolese individuals, I formed a group that became the Congo Great Lakes Initiative. Our work focuses on empowering people from DRC and Central Africa by building skills that can lead to new employment or educational paths. We have also registered people to vote. As members of Migrants Organise, we work as part of a larger network. We have achieved a lot but still, there is more to come.
Having worked in North Kensington for eleven years, I have seen a lot of change in the area. Migrants Organise has managed to make significant and positive change, becoming a powerful house of organisers that make people’s voices heard and provide structured support for community leaders fighting for the dignity of their people.
I believe the best way for people to get organized is first, to be conscious of what the issues are. There is a need for the younger generation to learn about the history of this area. As soon as you get to realise that there are serious issues in your community, you need to take action. To take action, you need other people who can help you make sense of your voice. Organising is all about doing things together – being allies, being true to each other – so you can challenge issues affecting your community. I have come to believe that we particularly need young people to be in the centre of pushing for change.
It is impressive how people change their lives. I now understand that organising is about investing in people who are ready to act because there is change they want to see. Organising is about being willing to take part in this push for change!
If you would like to hear more about our Community Organising Programme, please contact me Didier@migrantsorganise.org