Danna lives in Southwark. Originally from Columbia before growing up in Spain, she shares her experience of living and working in London, including getting involved in social justice organisations, her ambition to become a fashion designer, and the support needed for the Latin American community.
Hi, I'm Danna. I'm from Colombia, but I grew up in Spain. I have been living here in London for eight years. I have two children, Juliet and Martina, I came to live in London to have these opportunities, to evolve as a person as well, so I found that London is the perfect city for me where I can fit. The diversity that I can find here you cannot find it in another part of the world, so that was perfect for me.
I belong to PACT, it is a parents community together. It's an organisation for parents, based in Camberwell. For Citizens UK, I have been doing some campaigns. I've been working as a community leader in air pollution campaigns and also in some others but the more recently is this one. Also, I been working the last year with TSIP. This is an organisation that works with communities, especially BAME communities.
I've been working with the community because I want to belong to the community because I think that if you want to make changes, you need to know who is around you and how you can contribute. I know that one of the biggest problems that happens to me, in the beginning, was the barrier of the language. That made me think, "Oh, I need to learn English, yes oh yes." Even having a background, but it was different listening, to writing, to speak it. It was like, "Oh my gosh, I need to learn, yes oh yes," because what I feel is there's so many people around me, they don't speak very well English. They feel very uncomfortable to participate in or taking actions.
I feel that we can be a bridge as well. Let's say we, PACT, have our community, Espacio Mama. They are Latin American or Spanish speakers. That is a big bridge to connect with the rest of the community. That is amazing. What I thought in the moment like, "Wow, this is my place” and I think I going to start from there. Since then, even my English has improved a lot and I have been participating in a lot of campaigns with them. Especially because all of us, we are mothers, so I don't feel pushed or left outside because I become a mother. I think that everybody has their own space now.
A community researcher and currently studying at London Southbank University and doing a course called fashion promotion with a placement year. I'm very excited. I'm very happy because I feel that, we have been told about fashion is that very superficial and competitive world, but I think that nowadays we can see that fashion is trying to change. We can make good changes like, be more sustainable, more inclusive, and that is the thing that I want to do, that is the path that I want to follow.
I have my grandmother, she has a fashion background and she taught me how to make clothes and how to use the sewing machine. I've been on this for three years more or less, living here in London and that was in Colombia when I was living with her.
I must say that I've been so lucky because I've been support for wonderful people, amazing people, from friends, people that I never seen in my life that they encourage me to follow this path is that you start to speak with someone that you don't know suddenly in the bus and they ask you about you and they say, “Yes, you can do it." It's something that I really enjoy about London that everybody has their own dreams. I know that there is no perfect city, but at least when you have a good vibe, you can attract good things to you.
We are not recognised, our Latin American community, because let's say when you go to the GP or you're going to fill any form when they ask you about your background, you are not there. It doesn't exist. The ethnicity. We don't exist.
Difficulty that I can find here is what is the barriers, like language, these kind of things and lack of knowledge in how the system works because a lot of people doesn't know how to work.
One of the biggest I think is that we are not recognised, like our Latino Americans community because let's say when you go to the GP or you're going to fill any form when they ask you about your background, you are not there. [chuckles] It doesn't exist. The ethnicity. Yes, the ethnicity. We don't exist.
I feel that is something that is, I don't want to say bad, but we are not there so they don't know that we are here, even that we are a big community. That could be a good start. I know that last year with the census that they did, one of the things that Citizens UK did, it was a campaign to get. Recognition, yes, of our Latin American community in London. That is one start. One leader, I think her name is Paulina, she with another NGO Latin American teenagers. I know that mothers from Latin American countries, they were leading on this. It's a good start. It should be recognised. When you go to tick your background, I don't know what to say. I just tick in 'Other'. Sometimes I tick 'Black', 'Mixed', 'White'. It's difficult to say.
Yesterday I had this interview with one lady, and she works with fundraisers on how they can invest the money in BAME communities and minorities. That's something super good because they need to know the needs of the people. It's something that step-by-step is starting, and I'm happy to participate in these actions. I hope so that in the future, it doesn't look like that is something you'd be me, you should be amazed like, "Wow. It should have been something that is normal, is part of everybody. Everybody has the right and belongs to us." That's it, I think.