Melody was born in Tehran, Iran, and she came to Europe as an asylum-seeker fleeing war.
“After we fled from Iran, my family and I lived in Sweden for 11 years. One day two men with guns threatened me and my brother while we were at home. After that, we decided to move to the UK in 1997.
“Moving to another country isn’t easy. We’ve done it twice, and had to start from zero each time. My mum was a single parent with 3 young children. I admire her strength immensely. What I found most difficult was the cultural shock. Persian culture is warm, passionate and outspoken. British culture is reserved, quiet and polite.
“The other challenges were racism and people’s ignorance. School years were the hardest years of my life in England- I was lonely and felt misunderstood. For example, I remember many people genuinely asked me if we had toilets in Iran. I felt like shouting- ‘yes we do, we also invented civilization and human rights!’
“I channeled my energy into the UK community and became a social entrepreneur. I found a way to make a difference in the country and give back. It was inspired by my previous 11 years of volunteering in my community, hoping to make a difference.
“After University, I got a job in the youth sector and after 2 years, left and set up my own business, ‘InspirEngage International.’ Just recently in June 2015, I received an award from the European Parliament as ‘New European Woman Influencer’ which especially seeks to recognize the work of migrants.
“The UK allows those who come here to work hard, and to also give back. It doesn’t matter how you started, you can become successful if you are persistent and work hard. I am extremely happy about what I have been able to contribute to the UK in various projects such as ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’.
I have worked in the Houses of Parliament, met with Tony Blair when the UK was considering whether to go to war with Iraq and appeared on BBC, Sky news and CNBC, and I have represented the UK at United Nations conferences, Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, TEDx and Global Entrepreneurship Summit hosted by Barack Obama – as a Speaker.
“I am happy to say ‘I am a migrant!’ Even more, I am glad to say that I was a former asylum seeker. It enriches my story- but more importantly, it challenges people’s negative perception of the term."