UK education will help keep me safe
WHO I AM
I am Renee from the Philippines. I have been working in the international development sector for seven years, specifically on human rights and climate justice issues. I also work as a freelance journalist. Because of my vocal criticism of the government and president Rodrigo Duterte, I have received death and rape threats and harassment from the government and its supporters. I filed criminal cases against these people through the help of lawyers doing pro-bono work, but no one has been apprehended. I was also under an EU protection programme back in the Philippines. The same people implementing the programme are also now facing threats of their own. In the time this happened, I was under therapy for the trauma it has caused me.
Here is a media coverage of my case:
Watch a video of a television interview about my case:
In 2017, I decided to leave the country and do my first degree in the United Kingdom, which I have finished in September of this year. I have tried to look for work but have failed because of strict immigration policies and unwillingness of organisations to sponsor my work visa, even if I have volunteered to pay for all the fees related to this process.
I have thought of getting asylum but the human rights lawyer whom I've consulted said my case would only have a 60% success rate. If I fail, I would get banned in the UK for 10 years. This is too big of a risk for me to take.
I have feared going back home and have found that a way to stay was to pursue further studies. I have a few savings I could use for my stay in the UK but helping pay for my tuition fees would be of great help.
THE COURSE I WILL TAKE
The course is MA Intercultural Communication at Anglia Ruskin University. The course will allow me to gain a better understanding on communicating with diverse people in the international setting. It will help me understand better how culture plays a key role in the way we communicate with each other and the public — a crucial knowledge especially with the latest rise of racism, conservatism, and populism.
The tuition fee costs 10,000GBP, and this is what I am crowdfunding for. It was originally 12,000GBP but I got a 2,000GBP scholarship from the university.
MY EXPERIENCE IN MY FIELD
I am a communications specialist and have been campaigning for human rights and climate justice. In 2015, I was named by The Guardian as one of the Young Climate Campaigners to watch before the UN Paris Summit:
In early 2018 I gave a lecture at the University of Cambridge alongside experts to talk about why storytelling is important in campaigning. View the video here:
WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT FOR ME
Should I go back to the Philippines where I have death threats, I believe I would not be able to do the same research and I would not be able to continue my role in the development field. If I were to go back to the Philippines, I would need to pre-occupy myself in ensuring my safety and would most likely need to be in hiding. However, taking this course and staying in the UK will allow me to be visible and continue to have a voice, while working for my country and the world.