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1. 1 Rebaz is a 15 year old male, born in Iraq; he is Kurdish and speaks very little English. Rebaz arrived in England in October 1999, requesting status as a Port Asylum Seeker. He is an unaccompanied minor. (The assessment is in keeping with {1951} United Nations Conventions relating to the Status of Refugees as interpreted in the United Kingdom). He was placed in an emergency Reception Centre that attempted to meet the needs of 300 Asylum Seekers from many different backgrounds and cultures, many of whom became institutionalised. Loss, bereavement, and torture had been part of their lives in their country of origin.

Rebaz had left a family who adhered to strong family values, religious and cultural beliefs. He had difficulties in maintaining his identity in the unique situation, which he was now living (1. 7). 1. 2 Group living had begun to impact on his emotional and physical development. He was experiencing institutionalism and racism. Due to the many religious denominations, he had difficulties in practising his own. The range of food was different from what he had known. His health began to suffer (1. 12). For my own learning, and to enable me to assess Rebaz, I needed to have a better understanding of the Kurdish culture and oppression within it.

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I gathered the following information from books on Kurdistan (E5). Rebaz was born in Iraq, the community has a fragmented social and economic system. 1. 3 The people of Iraq are under strict state control. Those who criticise the regime are refused future entry. Saddam Hussein promoted his own extreme personality cult. It is reported that in a typical political broadcast, his name is mentioned 50 times in one hour, bringing the streets of Baghdad to a halt. It is said the regime remains in force through terror. The Kurdish people are caught up in the changing politics of the region.

There are many ways of speaking the Kurdish language. The main dialects being Kurmanji in the North, and Sorani in the South. The Kurds are aware of the separateness of their language, which owes nothing to their Turkish and Arab neighbours (1) John King, Wayland Press 1993 Threatened Cultures of Kurds. 1. 4 (2) Through a BBC documentary on 04. 03. 2000, “Killing the Children of Iraq”, enlightened me to the fact that thousands of people, mainly women and children are dying of cancer believed to be due to chemicals in the war.

England and America persist in sanctioning food, medication, and many other necessary basic items, and because of this, the Iraqi people are dying in agony with no hope for a future. The parents of these children are aware that life expectancy for their children if they remain is poor. Legislation and social policy is non existent for these people. Is it any wonder the parents send their minors to other countries? This programme made me consider how great the need for survival is within us (1. 10). 1. 5 The environmental, economic, and social factors had a great impact on the lives of Rebaz and his family.

These factors led the parents of Rebaz to respond by sending him to England where they hoped he would have a better future, educationally and socially. In fact, the chance of life. The DOH Framework for the assessment of children in need and their families “suggests a three fold framework”. Child development needs. Parenting capacity. Family and environmental factors. 2. BACKGROUND CONTEXT 2. 1 A summary of the issues affecting the assessment at the outset are: (1) Language barrier. (2) Rebaz not forming positive relationships. (3) No information of past history and reason for seeking Asylum.

(4) Lack of understanding of Iraqi culture. (5) Lack of information on law of asylum seekers. (6) Possible traumatised minor. (7) Rebaz was considered older than 15 years, having implications for future planning. Should he be treated as an adult or minor? (8) He is a separated minor. (9) Issues of Parental Responsibility. (10) Concerns for his physical/emotional well being. He was withdrawn; not eating or sleeping well, and had been seen crying behind the waste bins (E3). 2. 2 The Placement Officer doubted the age of Rebaz, saying he appeared much older, which meant he could be placed with adults in the community.

This concerned me a great deal. This created some conflict between the Officer and me. I spoke to the Line Manager about my concerns and agreed I should complete a Risk Assessment and perhaps confirm with ‘Buru’, the age of Rebaz (E4). 2. 3 I began by approaching Rebaz and greeting him in Kurdish. He immediately gave me eye contact but returned no greeting. I also began making a point of saying ‘goodbye’ in Kurdish. Rebaz began to await my arrival with a smile, then a greeting. I took in books of Kurdistan and bought a world map. Rebaz was able to show me the route he took from his home in Iraq to England.

He came through Iran, crossed the Turkish Border to a place called ‘Wonn’, then to Istanbul by lorry, and then another lorry through Europe to England. This action led me to question my personal beliefs of people seeking asylum, as I did not understand, or was even aware of the dangerous and inhuman journey these people needed to undertake. By working with Rebaz in this way, I was able to respect Rebaz as an individual whose rights, needs and welfare were paramount Value 2. 6: (2. 2) (1. 6) (A3) (1. 23). In keeping with the DOH assessment, I had begun contributing to the overall assessment.

3. ACCOUNT OF WHAT I DID 3. 1 I liaised with an Interpreter and discussed the concerns I had in undertaking the assessment. The Interpreter met with Rebaz who refused to engage with him. I asked the (B. 1) Interpreter to let Rebaz know the reason an assessment was needed (1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees as interpreted in the United Kingdom). This would reassure me that Rebaz would understand that he would be participating in decisions that would affect his future. Rebaz gave no indication he had listened, and still refused to engage.

It is significant that where adolescents are the subject of assessment, studies emphasise the importance of staff finding time to engage in direct work with young people and getting to know them well, although it may be difficult some times to get below the surface (Sinclair et al 1995). DHS Framework for Assessment (3) Value 2. 4 (1. 13) (A1). 3. 2 I began a genogram and eco-map with Rebaz. I noticed that on the genogram a friend named (Buru). I pointed to his name and Rebaz said ‘London’, Rebaz asked to use the telephone, pointing to ‘Buru’. I asked if ‘Buru’ spoke English, Rebaz said “good English”.

Rebaz telephoned him and allowed me to speak with him. His English was very good and I explained the difficulties I was having in letting Rebaz know the need for Assessment. ‘Buru’ agreed to meet with me and Rebaz to enable me to gather the information needed. I had explained to Buru that the Immigration officials need to assess if the person can be returned to any other country within the European Union and this was one of the reasons why I needed to complete an assessment. (A2) (C1) (Value 2. 2). 3. 3 ‘Buru’ was a significant person in the life of Rebaz. I was able to develop an effective working relationship with him.

At our meeting, I learnt that Rebaz and ‘Buru’ lived next door to each other and went to the same school. Rebaz was in the year lower to him. At school, Rebaz was a very good student always did his homework. His family had strong family values and were very close to each other. ‘Buru’ told me that Rebaz’s father had been killed while Rebaz was in England. His mother had told ‘Buru’ she did not wish Rebaz to know yet, and that he must respect this wish. He explained he communicates by fax to a shop near their home town. He also telephones his mother once a month at a planned date and time.

He said Rebaz would be able now to communicate with his mother in the same way. His friend explained that there was no post or lighting, this was the only way of staying in touch. He told me he did not know how his father had died, but we must respect the wishes of his mother. I was very uncomfortable with this situation. I decided to speak with the Social Worker involved with ‘Buru’. However, Rebaz learnt of his father’s death two days after our visit to London. He was very sad and very aware of the impact this would have on his mother and sisters, in terms of financial support B1 (1. 14) (Value 2.2).

3. 4 This meeting improved my knowledge and would assist my confidence in how I practice in future work with Rebaz in the change of environment. The meeting with his friend also empowered Rebaz and assisted him to build on his strengths. He was beginning to plan a future at college, as his friend was doing Value 2. 2. 3. 5 Considering the constellation of factors, all of which related to loss and post traumatic stress. I was concerned that Post Traumatic Stress may be present. In her book (4) “When Father kills Mother”, Dora Black describes difficulties for people in war torn countries.

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