Highlights – 2016

Highlights of Child Migrant Stories Public Engagement Programme, 2016

Eithne Nightingale and Mitchell Harris launched the website childmigrantstories.com

February 2016 

We used Fabiha Ullah’s image of the aeroplane which brought her and her family from Italy for our business card for Child Migrant Stories. Fabiha and her sister, Rubaiya, were born in Italy but her parents were born in Bangladesh.

We used Linh Vu’s drawing of the small boat she and her father used to escape Vietnam as the headline image. 

13 April 2016

Eithne screened the film, ”Voices Past and Present” at a conference for people working in the arts and cultural sectors in Oslo, Norway. The film brings together the most powerful statements of 17people who came to East London under theage of 18. This was as part of a talk on diversity in museums.

21 May 2016

Child Migrant Stories held an interactive stall collecting stories and views about child migration for Child Migrant Stories website in Stepney Green Park. This was also part of QMUL’s Festival of Communities. Laurie, Gabriela, daughter of Henry Bran who came from El Salvador, and Nileem, daughter of Ruhul Amin, who came from Bangladesh, all helped with the stall. Gabriela illustrated some of people’s comments.

4 June 2016

Child Migrant Stories screened three films on the Floating Cinema on the canal that runs past the Mile End Campus of Queen Mary University of London. This was part of the QMUL’s Festival of Communities funded by the Centre for Public Engagement. Mitch and Eithne stayed up all night, the previous night to finalise “Ugwumpiti”. This is the story of Maurice Nwokeji who got caught up in the Biafra war before joining his parents in London. 

Linh Vu answered questions after the film, “Passing Tides” about how she and her father escaped Vietnam by boat. 

Tina Puryear, co-author of the autobiography of Linh’s father, A Catholic with Confucian Tendencies read the excerpt from the book about the arrival of Linh’s mother and siblings in London five years after Linh and her father left. 

After the film ”Ugwumpiti” Maurice Nwokeji performed music from the film and answered questions about his experiences. 

6 June 2016

We screened the film “Passing Tides” in the Vietnamese restaurant then owned and managed by Linh Vu. This was alongside the launch of the autobiography of Linh’s father, Thanh Vu OBE, who escaped Vietnam as his life was in danger. He ran the organization An Viet in Hackney and became a local councillor. Eithne and Tina Puryear, helped Mr Vu publish Catholic with Confucian Tendencies. Order it here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1519568592/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1465323654&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65&keywords=catholic+with+confucian+tendencies

These are some of the comments about “Passing Tides” “It was very moving and with parallels with today’s refugee crisis.”
“Warm, beautifully told, powerful drawings.”
“Powerful impact of the subject matter, technical brilliance, beautifully edited.”
“Shows us a terrible reality of human survival. With the current situation it opened my eyes.”
“Personal, authentic, intimate.”

“Lively discussion with children asking relevant questions.”
People also enjoyed the readings from A Catholic with Confucian Tendencies. “The excerpt from the book was brilliant.”

June 20 – 24 2016

Material from the stories of Marie-Lyse Numuhoza from Rwanda, Henry Bran from El Salvador, Maurice Nwokeji from Biafra, Linh Vu from Vietnam and Argun Imamzade from Cyprus were used for the Refugee Week Schools programme at Hackney Museum for 200 local children. The Museum even made a replica of Argun’s photo album that he rescued from his bombed-out house in Cyprus. “Voices Past and Present” was screened the whole week. 

One schoolchild, aged 11, commented. “We’re happily living our lives with our play stations and mobile phones. I’ve got everything handed to me on a plate, but not everyone has that.”

A year 6 teacher from Mossbourne Parkside Academy remarked, “the workshop helps them see the ‘refugee’ as a person with a story and not a number, statistic or news story.”

Hackney Gazette covered the initiative with the headlines, “Negative perceptions of migrants overturned during Refugee Week at Hackney Museum.” http://www.hackneygazette.co.uk/news/education/negative_perceptions_of_migrants_overturned_during_refugee_week_at_hackney_museum_1_4595139

22 June 2106

Several classes at Lauriston Primary School in Hackney, where Linh’s daughter goes to school, screened “Passing Tides” during Refugee Week. Linh was there to answer the children’s questions about her perilous boat journey and the reasons for the war. They were very impressed with Linh’s drawings. 

25 June 2016

“Voices Past and Present” was screened in the bar of the Festival Hall during Refugee Week events. 

26 June 2016

The Rio Cinema in Hackney screened “Passing Tides” with “Fired at Sea” (about Lampedusa). This was followed by a Q&A with Dr Arnone, Eithne and Mitch. We missed Linh – she was unable to attend as she was wading in the mud in Glastonbury. 

We got some lovely feedback about the event, “I thought the film (Passing Tides) was brilliant – the story so cleverly told and illustrated with very evocative art and photographs. I actually cried and I think the combination of the harrowing details told in such a matter of fact way and the blending of domestic and international news throughout was just right.”

Another visitor was inspired to read that the film was shot on IPhone 6s. 

17 November 2016

Maurice Nwokeji performed songs featured in the film “Ugwumpiti” at the launch of the Being Human festival at Senate House, University of London. 

Photograph courtesy of the Advanced School of Study, University of London. Copyright© Lloyd Sturdy

19 November 2016

 “Voices Past and Present “(version 2), “Passing Tides” “Ugwumpiti” “Life is a Destiny” and “Life is a Destiny” were screened as part of Being Human festival at V&A Museum of Childhood. Maurice, Linh and Nurul Giani were there to participate in post-screening discussions. 

People learnt about, “The process of refugee rescue and transition.” Several people thought it was, “fantastic to have the actual person in the film present at the showing and seeing/hearing their thoughts. It is wonderful how people survive and GROW.” 

People’s comments on “Voices Past and Present” included “Great humanity, warm and moving.” “Increased my understanding and made me appreciate difficulties for new arrivals in a strange country.”

The daughter of Nurul Giani wrote, “Very empowering and emotional for us as a family to hear.

People were horrified to hear about Maurice’s experience of war in “Ugwumpiti” but laughed at how he hated chocolate when his parents in London offered it as a treat. “Far too sweet. I much preferred roasted rat.” One person felt that, “Maurice’s heart told the story well.” Another that, “Stories have to be told as part of the healing process.” Many people made the link between historical and contemporary migration. ”Then is now. Does our society really care? And is that reflected in government policy?” 

Maurice and his reggae band, One Jah performed in the main hall of the Museum.