Irish conflict was most ‘fertile period’

11 Jul 2014

An inspirational refugee, who escaped war-torn Afghanistan to eventually start a degree at The University of Manchester, has made his TEDx debut.

Gulwali Passarlay, 19, fled for his life and travelled through eight countries with just the clothes on his back to endure a year of solitary hardship on the road.

He is about to enter his second year of his BA in Politics and Philosophy.

TEDx was created in the spirit of the acclaimed TED talk’s mission, "ideas worth spreading." It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community.

Faced in 2006 with the prospect of being either forced to join the Taliban or the NATO-backed Afghan army, Gulwali’s mother urged the 12-year-old to make his way to England.

After months of hunger, illness, loneliness, and a terrifying 50-hour sea crossing crammed below deck without food or drink with 100 other refugees, in a space designed for 20, he finally made it to the country of his dreams.

A terrifying motorway journey clinging to a hot engine inside a lorry was just as frightening, on his quest to get to England.

It was the University’s Manchester Access Programme (MAP), which supports talented year 12 students, that spotted his potential when visiting his college.

Thanks to MAP’s support, he achieved his required A-level grades - and will also receive an additional Opportunity Manchester scholarship from the University in recognition of his achievements, which are funded through the generous support of the University’s alumni and friends.

Among his many successes, Gulwali was chosen to be one of 15 young people, to join a Department for Education panel which scrutinizes how policy affects young people

And he was the first Afghan ever to take part in the Olympic Torch Relay and is on speaking terms with Government ministers, politicians and Ed Miliband the Leader of the Labour Party.