GROWING up as mixed-race girls in the Borders was often a struggle, according to sisters Sara and Hannah Alkashmim.

Faeces smeared on their door handles. Gravy-filled condoms thrown at their doorstep. Windows smashed and tyres slashed.

These are examples of the racist attacks that the Alkashmim family say they have endured over the last three decades, with some episodes leading to court cases.

As the daughters of a white mother and an Arabian father from Yemen, Sara and Hannah stood out when they attended Peebles' Priorsford Primary School and, later, the town's high school.

Now living and working in Edinburgh as nursery teachers, the pair feel confident to share the horrors they faced during their childhood – in the hope of changing attitudes in the region.

The abuse started early for 26-year-old Sara and Hannah, 22, who can remember being called racial slurs in primary school.

They continued to be targeted throughout their teenage years, they say.

Former Beltane Queen Sara recalls being assaulted in Galashiels when walking to the bus station after college.

She said: "Three girls, who I had already reported to the police, attacked me behind the bus station.

"They kicked and hit me, called me names which included racial slurs, and stole my phone."

And when Hannah was 16 or 17, she says, she was whipped on the back of the leg with a metal dog lead, resulting in heavy bruising needing medical attention.

Hannah said: "It was the build-up of years of racial comments, of being sent memes of women in burqas, of casual racist chanting directed towards me, and I just had enough. I had to go to the police."

Although racism was not their only reason for moving away, Sara says they wanted a “fresh start”.

"I never planned on staying, but I did feel like I couldn't stay there anymore because of the racism,” said Sara.

The sisters believe the best way to tackle some of the racist attitudes in Peebles, whether intentional or unintentional, is through education.

Sara said: "Racism is throughout Scotland but I think it can be worse in rural areas.

"We didn't learn anything in school about racism, black history or different cultures.

"If people were able to call us names as early as primary two or three, then these issues need to be addressed in the curriculum as early as that, too."

Hannah added: "We don't want to just share our stories and that's it.

“There needs to be positive change and the best way to do that is through education.”

Sara and Hannah attended the Black Lives Matter protest in Edinburgh last Sunday (June 7), where they obeyed social distancing rules while wearing masks and gloves.

The global movement has inspired the sisters to voice their own struggles on social media.

Now self-isolating for two weeks following the protest, Hannah said: "It's the first time that people are really listening.

“A lot of people don't want to talk about racism, it's uncomfortable, but we're finally starting to have these conversations.

"It's given me the confidence that we're not going to get shut down. People do care, and they want to help.

"However, we have had a bit of backlash from some people from Peebles who feel like we're putting the town down.

"But we can't deny what happened to us. We can't be dishonest and say it was only a few people, because it wasn't.

"We're not saying that everyone in Peebles is racist and it's not always intentional."

Sara added: "I still think there's lots of people who disagree and think there isn't actually any racism in Peebles.

"It's important to make it clear racism still happens across Scotland, including in Peebles currently.

"We love the town. It's a beautiful place but there is definitely room for improvement when it comes to tackling racism."