Who are you?
In 1972, the President of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of his country's Asian minority, giving them 90 days to leave the country.
Born and raised in Uganda, my dad arrived in the UK with his family with nothing but memories of their home. He went to India, had an arranged marriage and began a new life in London. A baby boy arrived but tragically died by sudden infant death syndrome at only 3 months. A girl arrived a year later. 4 years later, the prayers for a boy were finally answered. My name is Ritesh Patel, born in Clapham, South London, to a Ugandan born Indian, Swahili speaking Father and an Indian Born, Gujarati speaking Mother. I was born with no vision in my right eye.
I have always been hesitant in sharing the challenges I had faced growing up and to some extent, I still am.
Where are you know?
I just feel blessed that my parents are happy and I can support them in any way possible. I am a Teacher. I am a Subject Leader in Design and Technology at an all-Girls Catholic Secondary School in North London. I live in South London (Yes, I like Trains and Buses a lot) For the past 3 years I have led the event, #TMEnfield to share and celebrate a range of pedagogy with a number of inspiring educators. I am currently working with RNIB to create an educational based charity that will help raise awareness and funding to support and inspire partially sighted Educators in the UK
Where did you come from?
Mr Patel had a corner shop. My mum was stabbed on 2 occasions in the shop. Racism was of the norm when I was growing up. But my parents worked hard. They had challenges but continued to graft. Because they knew it was about the future of their 2 children. Selfless human beings. Hard to find! I grew up in Lewisham and went to one the roughest school in town. Yes, I was called names such as strange, weirdo and of course the P word. I would be kicked and punched on the way home, not tell anyone and cry in isolation. Due to my race or impairment, I didn’t know back then. School life was a nightmare. Being a Teacher was the last thing on my mind! I would apply to jobs scared of ticking the disabled box. I don’t care anymore.
Overcoming obstacles and adviCe
Resilience. Keep your head down and stay positive. Surround yourself with people who are real and inspire you. Inspire and help others. Never let negativity control your thought process. Don’t blame others. Be honest and step up when you need to. Have ambition and passion. Above all, believe. Believe you can and you will.
Thank you. We Are In This Together