This June hosts Refugee day. And it couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Just last week a ship carrying refugees, amongst them 123 unaccompanied minors and 7 pregnant women, was refused permission to dock by both Italy and Malta. Interior Minister for Italy, Matteo Salvini used the hastag #closethedoors on twitter. Whilst in the UK, inflammatory headlines in the media feed an increasingly negative national conversation regarding refugees and their plight.
Refugee week aims to change that conversation. It seeks to form bridges between communities that are repeatedly told they are at odds. And to showcase the cultural contribution of refugee’s in the UK.
So to play our part, this week we want to share with you the stories of three refugee’s in particular (who you might just have heard of). Read them, share them, and add your own in the comments below!
Fleeing from conflict in Kosovo, Rita Ora’s parents travelled to London when Rita was 1 and her sister was 3. At a young age, Rita discovered her talent for singing and successfully auditioned for the Sylvia Young Stage School. Her big break came in 2009 when she was signed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label. Rita’s first album ‘Ora’ debuted at number 1, and she continues to enjoy hit records today!
Check out the music video for her song ‘Shine ya light’, filmed in the city Rita was born, Pristine, Kosovo.
Living in Bern and already hailed as an extremely influential scientist, rising anti-semitism and the Nazi party made it increasingly hard for Einstein to work. So in 1932 he moved to America and took up a position at Princeton University. Once there, Einstein and his wife worked tirelessly to make visa applications and personally vouch for other Refugees.
Syrian born, Maya Youssef, was nine years old when she first heard the qanun played in a taxi and was informed by the driver that ‘only men’ could play it. Fast forward several years and the little girl from Damascus was hailed as ‘queen of the qanun’ and recognised as an Exceptional Talent by the Arts Council England. Her musical ability enabled a visa to move to London, where she recorded her first album ‘Syrian Dreams’ reflecting on her homeland. Maya’s doctoral thesis researches ‘ the role of the arts in more effectively treating post-traumatic stress amongst child survivors of war’.
Trace Project – a digital timeline telling the history of arts and culture contributions by people who have sought safety in the UK from conflict and persecution.
The Refugee Tales – in this book poets and novelists retell the stories of individuals who have direct experience of Britain s policy of indefinite immigration detention.
Refugee Week – the official website for Refugee week shares 20 stories of Refugees.
Young Roots – seeks to realise the potential of young refugees and asylum seekers.
Refugee Action – helps refugees to rebuild safe, happy and productive lives in the UK, free from poverty.
Refugee Council – offers practical support and guidance to refugees to help support and empower them.
If you want to do even more than donate, click here to see charities that work with refugees and are recruiting for members to join their team.