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How a trip to Kenya changed one young man's life

DETERMINED: Daud Abdirahman lived in Kenya for two years

A TRIP to Kenya prompted a young man from Harlesden to turn his life around – and now he has graduated from university with a first class degree.

Daud Abdirahman, 24, used to play semi-professional football for both Reading and QPR, but his sporting ambitions were cut short when he was injured while studying for his A-levels.

With his first choice career no longer an option, Daud was a bit lost as to what to do next.

“Growing up in Harlesden, it’s a bit of a rough area,” he explained. “Education is not considered important for the majority of the youth - either you play football or you play music or something like that.

“So after I finished my Alevels I wasn’t really interested in going to university because the majority of my friends were not going.”

But Daud’s father had other ideas for him.

“My father has a proper African background and for him education is the key to everything. So he decided to move the whole family over to Kenya for two years.”

It was a culture shock for Daud, and by the time he came back to London he was 21 and saw that the friends he had left behind had not made much progress with their lives, some even ending up in prison.

POVERTY
But what he experienced in Kenya had a transforming effect on him. “I saw real poverty,” Daud revealed. “I saw kids standing outside of school staring into the classroom to try and see what the teacher was teaching, so they can learn something.

“But here I was with a free education that I didn’t really care about.”

So on returning to London he decided to return to education, focusing on sciences, with the intention of pursuing a career in medicine.

“I decided to look for NHS courses. I looked at courses like radiography, and when I went to the University of East London (UEL) I spoke to someone who was graduating from its podiatry course.

“They told me about the job opportunities – that a lot of people are graduating and getting jobs straight away. But also that if you graduate as a podiatrist, it’s not just one thing you have to do for the rest of your career. There are a lot of different areas you can work in.”

Once enrolled as a student at UEL he embraced it fully, getting work experience at various clinics at weekends and working as a curriculum ambassador going out to schools telling pupils about the degree and the career path of a podiatrist.

He said: “When I was their age, I didn’t really know the importance of education, so I felt that me going and giving them a talk might make a difference, so they can realise what they need to do at the age of 18, rather than at the age of 21 like I did.

“I was able to get through to the majority of the kids and they enjoyed the talk. This gave me self-satisfaction which made me want to do it again and again.”

All the hard work has paid off as this month Daud graduated with a first class degree, and has already secured a job from his first interview at Croydon Hospital. Daud also had an offer to go Australia, but turned it down.

“I feel that my course was funded by the NHS so I should at least give them three years to give something back.”

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