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Last Mafuba

Inspired to create change in the refugee community, Last Mafuba (BSc Psychology, 2015; LLM International Development Law and Human Rights, 2016) created the Inini Initiative. Inini provides a safe space for refugees to build relationships and find out about mental health and other support services available.


You are Founder and CEO of the Inini Initiative. What is Inini and what inspired you to found it?

Firstly, it was the challenges I faced trying to integrate into my community when I first arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe that gave me the idea to establish Inini. Through my journey, I became aware of the impact these challenges had on my mental wellbeing and the lack of adequate mental health support for ethnic minority communities in the UK. I also realised that many in my situation and those already ‘settled’ were facing similar challenges.

While studying for my LLM in International Development Law and Human Rights, I knew I had to establish Inini. I took modules focusing on women’s human rights and global justice, humanitarian law, asylum seekers, refugees, and migration. For my thesis, I investigated why recent female migrants experiencing domestic abuse do not engage with legal support. Putting together my literature review, I discovered the diabolical extent of mental health problems in ethnic minority communities in the UK. I couldn’t wait to do my bit to relieve the situation and on graduating, Inini was born.


How does Inini support women in need of refuge?

We provide a safe space for them to meet and connect while engaging in conversation on issues they find challenging in a weekly peer support group. In these meetings, we create awareness of mental health, give advice and information on services available and how they can be accessed. We also provide advocacy, 1-to-1 psychological coaching, and creative sessions such as drumming and writing poetry. On top of this, Inini offers groups and institutions bespoke training on how to interact with these communities through consultancy, seminars, public speaking, and discussions on a range of topics, such as migration and homelessness. We also engage with institutions to influence decisions affecting people of colour.


What are your hopes for the future of Inini and the support for women?

Experience has taught me that mothers are happy when their children are happy. Hence, my hopes for the future are to facilitate this. Of late, I’ve seen women from the refugee migrant community lose their children to gangs and drugs, which leaves them hopeless. One of the reasons cited for this happening is the lack of male role models. So I believe we need to work to keep families together or at least keep fathers involved in their children’s lives. While we continue to support and empower women, I also want us to support men so they can understand women’s needs (especially those coming from a patriarchal background), the importance of family, as well as support them with their mental health and help them get into work.


5. Which women inspire you?

I’m inspired by the women I work with at Inini. How they manage to carry on despite facing such adversity, and continue to build resilience is beyond me. I’m also inspired by the women from kwaMafuva, my rural village in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. They taught me that the world is united and intermingled with the environment and hence, I should be careful when making any actions and decisions as they affect others.

However, my late mother Ettie is my biggest inspiration. She worked tirelessly to support others in her rural community; delivering the family planning project, offering antenatal classes, delivering babies with no running water, electricity and no midwifery qualifications, running a baby clinic, and making meals in her kitchen in the 1980s to feed young children under the US-funded ‘Feed the Child’ project.