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From Angelina Jolie and a Kenyan refugee camp to Leeds Beckett graduation

Following a journey that saw him reach Leeds via a Kenyan refugee camp, Adenweli Garad Nunow is planning to give something back to his adopted city after graduating from Leeds Beckett University this week.

Aden Mohammed outside Leeds Arena with his graduation certificate

Garad, 30, who studied BA International Relations & Global Development at Leeds School of Social Sciences, will focus on expanding Action Interactive International, a charity he founded that offers support and guidance to refugees in the city.

He started the charity with International Relations course mate Tim Spinks in 2017, drawing on his own experience of living in the Dafdaab Camp, which houses over 500,000 people in Northern Kenya.

“What makes our charity a little bit different is that I have that personal experience, so I have an understanding about what a refugee is thinking and what they want.” Garad explained.

Displaced at the age of two from his native Somalia, Garad spent over two decades in the camp, where he would eventually train to become a teacher and translator.

As part of these roles, he was asked to give a guided tour of the camp to actor and UN Special Envoy Angelina Jolie and Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres.

A high achiever throughout his younger years, Garad eventually gained aspirations to move on from Dafdaab, and became one of the few refugees from the camp chosen to come to England.

After a few false starts, he eventually settled on Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, and has gone from strength to strength since.

Garad said: “Studying International Relations has been massively helpful to me. It’s where I’ve built a network of great people.

“I met Tim here, and we were lucky enough to get talking. We realised we had very similar ideas and that, fundamentally, we wanted to help people in need.”

Their charity organises events across Leeds to encourage community spirit between refugees from different countries and is currently looking for funding to further expand its operations.

Garad added: “It’s about giving people a second chance and offering support. We have registered offices across Africa and we’re looking to scale up in Leeds as well.

“This world can only be a better place if the number of selfless, supportive individuals increase in number.”

With an eye on his long-term future, Garad plans to work in politics and continue his charity work.

“I’d love to do more humanitarian work, but my ultimate aspiration is be a political figure and, who knows, maybe even run for President one day.”

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