Hello. Let me tell you a few things about my friend, Yashika Bageerathi.
Yashika is a young woman, newly 18 years of age, who I've studied alongside for many years at Oasis Academy Hadley. She has a passion for mathematics and the sciences, and has just received studying offers from Russell Group universities. She plans, in fact, to become a maths teacher.
Without doubt, she is an aspirational young lady with a bright future.
It was last Thursday; however, that I and others discovered that her work may never pay-off and that her dreams may never come to fruition. The head of our sixth form, at the end our weekly assembly, called us back for a moment. We were told of the past that Yashika had escaped from - an abusive family situation that had threatened the lives and safety of herself, her mother and her two younger siblings and how, ultimately, the local authorities had failed them.
We were then informed that, on the Tuesday following, she would be removed from the life that she had built here and sent back to Mauritius, the very place that her mother had worked so hard to remove her from. Her life here would be ruined and the educational endeavours that she has made, nullified.
It was as we left the assembly that we students concluded "we cannot allow this to happen".
Over the past few days, we and others have worked tirelessly in order to bring Yashika's plight to as many people as possible; to call for a Home Office review of Yashika's case and, hopefully, bring the decision that we feel is only just.
The backbone of our campaign has been on Twitter, launching the hash-tag #FightForYashika, in the hope of informing the public and generating support for our cause. We've been promoting our online petition, which has, at the time of writing, gained support from nearly 25,000 people worldwide.
We've also worked offline. Last Sunday, hundreds of us demonstrated peacefully outside of the Home Office, unified by chants of "Theresa May, hear our say! Yashika will be free today!" We were joined by fellow students, teachers, strangers - people that felt strongly for the point that our campaign was making and the student that we were trying to save.
I don't think any of us could have imagined how much noise our efforts would produce. We have been covered from news organisations ranging from al-Jazeera to Sky. I and many others even travelled into school at 6.30am yesterday to spread our message on ITV Daybreak. People seem interested in what we are saying and the friend that we are standing up for. Our words have reached Yashika's MP, David Burrowes; with he and others now making formal representation to the Home Office on behalf of Yashika. What we have accomplished thus far has been staggering.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this campaign, however, is how it has brought people, specifically us at Oasis Hadley, together. It would be a lie to say that we were normally any different to any other school - with our own issues, spats and frictions. However, over the past few days, we've typed, cheered, spoken and cried together. We have in a way matured, realising that there are sometimes things more important than ourselves.
Today, we have received a call stating that Yashika's removal from the country is likely to be delayed by a couple of days whilst the case is reviewed. What we are doing seems to be working.
This whole action started with a few words, spoken by a couple of people, in one hall. Now it encompasses the words and actions of a plethora of voices. This is a fight to save our friend Yashika; you better believe that we'll keep on trying.
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