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Rukky's Story

Updated: May 12, 2019


Rukky Yussef meeting the Duke of Edinburgh after giving a speech at Buckingham Palace

The Tony Trust sponsored Rukky in 2015 to help her go on an Outward Bound course. Here she tells us her story and how it has changed her life:


As a single child who has spent fourteen years of her life in the most impoverished and dangerous places in the world, where the authorities turned a blind eye to child prostitution, human trafficking and where poverty and disease claim lives daily, I am very grateful to be in Britain and to be away from the horrors of where I spent my childhood. I used to wake in the morning and go back to sleep at night without having had anything to eat or drink.


Having come to the UK as a fourteen year old refugee alone, with no family in the UK and unable to speak English, my life was very hard, it was difficult to make friends at school as I was unable to communicate with other children or adults. I had no confidence, knowing that I couldn’t speak English, I couldn’t share my ideas in class or answer questions even if I knew the answer. I could not even work in a group as sharing my thoughts or ideas were very difficult.


At school they predicted I would get Es and Fs. Many teachers didn’t think I would be able to pass my GCSE exams because of the very short time I had been in the UK. English wasn’t my first language. But I didn’t let myself down and I took it as a challenge and started to look for solutions. I used to spend all my breaks in the school library, to revise. I taught myself English and I took every opportunity to revise. My last school helped with my studies and enabled me to get through this difficult time. Because of my hard work, I achieved my grades and have entered sixth form at Windsor Girls School.


A few months ago, I decided that I really needed to improve my communication skills as I knew I would need this skill in every day life, especially for University and for future work. So I went online and found the Outward Bound Skills for life course, which took place over 19 days in Wales. Everything we did on this course was extremely challenging for everyone, and when I say everything, I absolutely mean everything! Every single task that we did on this course, there was a message to be considered, a lesson to be learnt and skills to be taken , that will stay with me for life. I learnt about independence, confidence, self- belief and team work. On one of the days on the course it was my turn to be team leader. It was rainy, foggy and very cold. We had to walk up to the top of the mountain which was about 900 metres high. It was very intimidating and we got stuck on our way to the top of the mountain for nearly two hours in the rain and fog, but we made it. We had made it, as a team, through my leadership.


Two weeks after the course, I got an e-mail asking me to deliver a speech at Westminster for Skills and Employability which was held by the government. It was very frightening for me, however because I had been on the course and one of the biggest lessons I had learnt was not to be afraid, I was able to overcome my fears and so I took it as a challenge – because I believe there is no greater challenge than the challenge to help myself. Since then I have spoken in front of school assemblies and given speeches across Berkshire and at Buckingham Palace.


These skills I learnt on my course apply everywhere. This course has helped me become the person I am today, it quite literally has changed my life.



I would like to thank my school (Windsor Girls School), The Tony Trust for paying a large part of the course, and Outward Bound. I believe that there is a lot of truth in the quote ‘What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; but what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.’

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With thanks to The Outward Bound Trust for photographs and Wix for site sponsorship