My name is Haris Ali and I was born in Sylet in Bangladesh. I carne to this county in 1963 and my first job was painting motor vehicles in Hitchin. I lived there for a year and then moved to Welling Garden City where I spent the next three years working in a bread factory. I came to England to make a living in order to provide for my family in Bangladesh.
When I first carne to England I had no education. I had worked on the land and I had not been able to go to school as it was too far from my house.
When I first arrived in England I worked all day and then went to night school to learn English. I finally settled in Gloucester in 1980 with my family and started a restaurant named Maharajah. This is where I first became involved with the community. I had a visit from the health inspector at the Maharajah and he gave me the idea of helping teach the Bengali community to learn English. So I set up a programme where our community could come to learn English.
We had special classes for women who carne to my house. The courses grew in popularity grew and so we decided to introduce Arabic teaching for children. This was because Islam is very important to the Bengali Community. The Holy Quran is written in Arabic, and to keep it's authenticity we Muslims have to learn and understand Arabic. The Arabic class ran alongside the English class in my house.
As the community grew, the Arabic teachings were moved to a small Bengali Community Centre which was set up by the Bengali community in the mid '90's. My persistence in ensuring there was a place for the children was very important. I have enjoyed working with the community here in Gloucester and will continue to contribute and to help bring together ideas.
When I had full time work, I had to manage my money with responsibility both for my family back in Bangladesh and my family in England. I only used money myself for the vital necessities, such as a small amount of food and for household bills. The rest of my money - up to 75% - was sent home to support my family, to provide for developments in the local community and to help the children of my locality.
I'm still committed to supporting my people in Bangladesh, even though
I am a pensioner. I'm providing them with whatever I can. I am 65 years
old I do not know what will become of me. I need to help the new generation
in Bangladesh to read, write and speak good English, so that they don't
need to rely on foreign support.
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