Originally from Bangladesh, Mona joined the project because she had always wanted to write. Her daughter told her she should write something, but she never felt confident enough.
'Since I was little, I want to write, but after school, I moved to UK and was really busy looking after family, but the idea of writing stayed in the back of my head all the time.'
At the start of the project, Mona told JZ that her writing and grammar weren't very good, that her writing wasn't very creative or imaginative, as she was writing about things she'd seen and done. When JZ suggested that she could write a poem, she said it felt really good to try a totally different way of writing. She also enjoyed it when the writing group started writing in response to some of the images the photographers had created:
'Writing on its own can be boring. I picked imagination pictures like sky and night-time scene - they make me think of Independence celebration in Bangladesh.'
Mona said that she had had a difficult year personally that that being involved in the project, getting to know JZ and the other writers and writing about her memories, thoughts and feelings helped her stay focused and positive.
'I feel sometimes like if don't do stuff like this, I'd just be taking kids to school, doing shopping then going home again. It's really good to do stuff like this and meet other peoples.'
Mona was really happy when she found that everyone liked the poems she'd written and felt incredibly proud. She was also very proud of the fact that she has begun translating some of her writing from English into Bengali for use in exhibitions of work from the project. She's proud to represent her community and to have been proactive in getting involved in a multicultural/intercultural project:
'It feels good to get involved in multicultural project - some people in my community don't get involved in things like this. This is my thing and it feels good to do this for me.'
Having been part of this project, Mona felt confident enough to volunteer to make costumes for the 2012 production of the York Mystery Plays. She feels that quite often it's difficult to find out about opportunities, but that being part of this project has given her the confidence to get out and about; find out about other activities and join in. Mona's first participation with YUMI was in 2010 at one of our summer events, where she cooked Bangladeshi food. She has since cooks for several events - including conferences for local organisations. While she likes the fact that people enjoy her food, it's the creative activities like writing, photography and dressmaking that make her really happy.
Now she has started writing again, Mona would really like to continue. She's spoke to JZ about helping her write a book and would love to write true stories about her life and her family.
'Imagination and talent can be wasted if you don't write - if you don't practice something, it can turn to junk.'