Fabiha Ullah, born in Italy in 2002 and Rubaiya Ullah, born in Italy in 2008, came to the East End from Italy in 2014 with their brother and parents, of Bangladeshi origin.
Fabiha and Rubaiya were born in Brescia, Italy to parents of Bangladeshi origin. Their father, from Dhaka, was a student in Germany and then built up a computer business in Italy. The economic crisis and traditional links with British culture when South Asia was part of the British Empire, persuaded Fabiha and Rubaiya’s father to bring his family to London.
Fabiha and Rubaiya used to attend St Paul with St Luke primary school near Mile End. They have not yet visited their parent’s country of origin but there are plans to do so. Fabiha drew her house in Italy. The sun shone over the rooftops, bright flowers were in bloom and all her family – her mother, her father, her brother, sister and herself wore crowns. Fabiha also drew the aeroplane they came over in – with a girl pilot. She drew her suitcase too. It contained a doll that her sister had lost in Italy, dresses, socks, shoes, spaghetti, a table and chair. It was difficult to close the lid.
Fabiha likes London and Italy, she eats pizza and rice and is scared that there will be spiders in Bangladesh. Both Fabiha and Rubaiya went to nursery or school in Italy. Fabiha talks a mixture of Italian, English and Bengali with her father but is losing some of her Italian. Rubaiya ,who needs extra support for her learning difficulties, is more comfortable expressing herself in Italian than in any other language. She gets very frustrated when she cannot communicate.
Fabiha and Rubaiya’s father thinks it has been the everyday things that have been difficult for his daughters. A different street, market and park where there is not enough space or materials to play with. He and his wife still make sure that Rubaiya has her favourite Italian chocolate bar for her mid morning snack that they buy in Ilford. Their father thinks living in England is better for the children’s futures. Bangladesh is faced with enormous environmental challenges, in Italy there is no work and speaking English is an important skill for his children to learn.