Today, we share the story of Dina Vekaria, a longtime Pearson employee whose father, originally from India, was forced to flee Uganda in 1972.
A Worldwide Office
Dina works in internal communications at Pearson, helping her colleagues across the globe connect and collaborate via their online platform, Neo.
“On any given day,” Dina says, “I may speak to a coworker in the United States one minute, and then to someone in Turkey the next.”
A Father’s Journey From University, to Uganda, to The UK
Dina says her appreciation for a global community began to develop when she was very young.
Dina’s parents are originally from India.
“After University, my father relocated to Uganda for his electrical engineering work,” Dina says, “while my mom stayed in India with his mother.”
In 1972, the then-President of Uganda, Idi Amin, ordered the expulsion of the country’s Asian minority—giving them 90 days to leave the country.
“My dad was fortunate to have a British passport, so he fled to the UK,” Dina says.
A Different Journey for Mom
Dina’s mother traveled from India to join Dina’s father in the UK about a year after his relocation.
They lived in a modest house with 3 other families.
“At that point, they didn’t have enough money to buy anything,”
“And unlike my father, my mother didn’t have any formal education or job qualifications.”
Eventually, Dina says, she learned how to use a sewing machine, and found a job in a factory.
“At work, there were a bunch of other ladies, from India and elsewhere, in similar situations.”
“They helped each other get better at sewing…and at speaking English, too.”
One Home, Two Generations
After a year of saving their paychecks (and with some help from family members), Dina’s parents were able to purchase their own home—a 45-minute train ride from London.
It’s the home where Dina and her two older sisters grew up, and where Dina and her husband live today.
Five years ago, the couple purchased it from her parents.
“It’s been 31 years,” Dina says. “It’s the only home I’ve ever known. I just love it.”
A Family That Stays Together
Dina’s parents, now retired, split their time between the UK and India.
“Our family is very proud of our Indian heritage,” Dina says, “and of course visiting makes us feel even closer to it.”
“When my parents are in the UK, they live with us, in the home they bought all those years ago.”
Dina loves to visit India, too, even though she never lived there.
“My sister and I are taking a two-week trip this May,” she says.
“While we’re there, we will spend some time volunteering at a school in the village our parents once lived in.”
The Greatest Gift
Dina says her home is filled with childhood gifts from her parents: dresses her mom made and LED-light gadgets built by her Dad, making use of the electrical engineering qualification he obtained.
“But their best gift? Teaching me tolerance,” she says.
“They taught us to respect and honor where we came from…and where everyone we meet did as well.”
It’s a quality Dina thinks has helped her build a successful 10-year career at Pearson.
“My job satisfaction is two-fold.”
“I get to work for a company dedicated to advancing peoples’ lives,” Dina says.
“And at the same time, working with such diverse colleagues and learning from them enriches my own life every day.”
“What could be better than that?”
Since 2015, Pearson has partnered with Save the Children UK in the ‘Every Child Learning’ partnership to increase educational opportunities for Syrian refugees and vulnerable children in Jordan.
Now, in 2017, they are extending their work [insert link to press release] to launch a new education project in Jordan, in partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Education, to help Syrian refugees, and local children living in host communities, to improve their academic results, to build resilience and to help make their schools safer.
This project consists of a fun and engaging math learning app, “Space Hero”, developed by Pearson, that will be supported by a broader Save the Children led program focusing on teacher training, enhancing school-community systems, and psychosocial support.