Child Migrants Welcome?

“I think that welcome makes such a big difference to how a person, never mind a child, perceives a new country. When you see camps in Calais it does seem very different …”

Passing Tides – https://childmigrantstories.com/2016/06/09/passing-tides-story-of-a-young-girl-escaping-vietnam-with-her-father/

Linh Vu from Vietnam, talking about the reception she received at a refugee camp on the south coast, inspired us to make a film about how child migrants feel welcomed or not when they first arrive. We decided to interview not only child migrants but those who know or care for them – teachers, friends, social workers, lawyers, activists, religious leaders and therapists. Mitchell Harris and I travelled the breadth and length of the UK with just an iPhone and microphone to hand.

The result is four films:

Child Migrants Welcome? (30 minutes) which explores the welcome received by unaccompanied child refugees both historically under the Kindertransport scheme before World War Two and today. It uncovers the implications of the present UK government’s immigration policies and procedures on the young people’s legal status as well as the campaigns led by Lord Dubs, who came over on the Kindertransport, Safe Passage and others to support child refugees.

The film is being shown in conjunction with the campaign Our Turn, marking 80 years since Kindertransport, to encourage local councils across the UK to pledge 10,000 places for child refugees over the next ten years from Europe and the conflict regions of the world. But the future is uncertain – existing schemes are due to close in 2020 and it is likely that any announcement will now be delayed until the autumn in light of a Conservative leadership election and the Brexit deadline of 31st October 2019.

 

I am Well Here ( 6 minutes)
Sue Skipper, Chair of Norwich International Youth Project and the young people who use the project talk about the benefit of the weekly sessions. Some have come to Norwich with their families but others have travelled on their own across Europe, some spending time in camps in Class and Dunkirk. This film is being shown along with others at Cinema City Picture House in Norwich on Sunday 23rd June at 11 am 2019.

 

I Don’t Understand Scones (10 minutes)
Child migrants and teachers from Sidmouth College secondary school including from Syria, Poland and Turkey talk about the welcome they have received in this seaside town in Devon, what they like and don’t like and their feelings of home.

 

Seeking Sanctuary on a Scottish Island ( 15 minutes)
Syrian children, who have come over as part of the Syrian Resettlement Programme (VPRS) and their teachers on the Isle of Bute talk in broad Scottish accents about the welcome they have received on this island off the west coast. This film has been very well received by different audiences but we are not intending to publish this on the website. You can contact us if you wish to organise a screening.

We are launching this series of films by first sharing Child Migrants Welcome? online. Please feel free to screen this independently or contact us if you would like us to recommend speakers for a post-screening discussion, for example of those featured in the film. Please also contact us if you would like to screen any of the other three films and we can send it/them to you independently.

We would like to thank everyone that we have interviewed and supported us in this project,

Eithne Nightingale & Mitchell Harris

Learning Resources – part time posts for school and adult ESOL students

Development of learning resources for “Child Migrants Welcome?”(School and ESOL for adults)

About Child Migrants Welcome? and Child Migrant Stories

Child Migrants Welcome? aims to encourage understanding of, and empathy for, child migrants, through film, multimedia installations, public programmes and learning materials. It builds on 2016’s Child Migrant Stories initiative www.childmigrantstories that won QMUL’s Public Engagement Interact Award 2017. This draws on research into 35 people who migrated to East London from 1930 to the present day under the age of 18.
See childmigrantstories.com/stories/

Four films have been developed as part of Child Migrant Stories. The first one captures moving statements about leaving and settling in the UK. See childmigrantstories.com/films/voices-past-and-present-stories-of-child-migration/. The second features Linh Vu who escaped Vietnam with her father. See childmigrantstories.com/2016/06/09/passing-tides-story-of-a-young-girl-escaping-vietnam-with-her-father/ The third features Maurice Nwokeji,  a child who survived famine and war in Biafra, now a musician https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eioWpfYroUs and the fourth features Argun Imamzade from Cyprus who protected a family photo album when his house was being bombed and then rescued it from the rubble.
See childmigrantstories.com/films/life-is-a-destiny/

The films, varying in length between 10 and 20 minutes, have already been screened in
cinemas, museums, community centres, universities, colleges and primary and secondary schools. They have been used successfully with both school and adult ESOL students.

About the role
We now wish to appoint person/s to develop:
A resource pack inspired by the Child Migrant Stories films, for use in schools. The resource will be linked to the National Curriculum and core values and must be suitable for a range of ages and learning styles. 10 days work at £200 a day.
ESOL resources linked to the adult ESOL curriculum for 10 days at £200 a day

Equipment
The person/s appointed would need to be able to work from their own laptop/computer in premises independent of the project.

Reporting
This initiative is being developed in close collaboration with Hackney Museum. The post-holder will report directly to the project manager, but will also receive support and mentoring from Hackney Museum Learning staff, who have expertise in teaching resource
development and a long history of teaching about migration.
This work needs to be completed by May 21st 2017.

Applications
You can apply for either or both of the positions. Please send the following to world@childmigrantstories.com by 2pm Wednesday April 5th.

i) a letter of interest outlining:
– teaching experience to school students and/or ESOL students
– experience of developing and designing learning materials to target group/s
– integrating discussion of migration issues into an educational setting
– your ability to complete the work in the time frame
– any dates that you are unavailable over the Easter break for interview
ii) your response to the following brief:
Choose a film from Child Migrant Stories website and detail three activities that could be included in the resource pack relating to it. State which age group the activities are aimed at and explain why you made that decision. For further enquires ring Eithne Nightingale on 07949 080 526.

The project is funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund of Queen Mary, University of London.

Seeking Sanctuary: Refugees and Migrants Welcome at QMUL (Queen Mary University of London)

Join us for the event Seeking Sanctuary: Refugees and Migrants Welcome at QMUL (Queen Mary University of London)

On Thursday February 23rd 6 – 8. 30 pm.

At Peston Lecture Theatre, QMUL Graduate Centre, Mile End Road (entrance via Bancroft Road), London E1 4NS

This event is particularly important given the present political crises and the recent government’s backtracking on accepting child migrants under the Lord Dub’s ruling.

Book your free tickets through Eventbrite:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/seeking-sanctuary-refugees-and-migrants-welcome-at-qmul-tickets-31708361563

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

A chance to:

– learn about experiences of child refugees and migrants coming to East London through films, memoir and music
– explore what the university and others are doing, and could do, to support refugees and how to get involved

6pm: Film Screenings
i) Passing Tides – story of Linh Vu who escaped Vietnam by boat followed by a reading from her father’s biography, A Catholic with Confucian Tendencies
ii) Ugwumpiti – story of Maurice Nwokeji who survived the Biafran civil war before joining his parents in East London

7pm: QMUL’s support for refugees today
Panel discussion including:
Emma Williams, Chief Executive of STAR (Student Action for Refugees) on University of Sanctuary initiatives and other work of STAR including the campaign on family reunification
Lizzy Pollard, Advice and Counselling Student Services, QMUL on financial support for asylum seeker and refugee students
Raneem Kalsoum, QMUL Syria Solidarity Society

Followed by a wine reception and refreshments with music by One Jah featuring music of Maurice Nwokeji inspired by his childhood in Biafra.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/seeking-sanctuary-refugees-and-migrants-welcome-at-qmul-tickets-31708361563

This event is also supported by CritiQues ‘Home for Refugee Children’ initiative and HSSCF ‘Child Migrants Welcome’ initiative

The films on childmigrantstories.com were funded by the Centre for Public Engagement

 

“There are kids like me in Syria, in Somalia”

A moving documentary of the story of Maurice Nwokeji from Biafra

As I watch a group of orphans in Aleppo on my TV screen appealing to the world to save them Maurice’s words ring in my ears. “But no. it’s happening now. There are kids like me in Syria, in Somalia. We haven’t learnt anything.”

Maurice knows what it is like to experience war, to be continually bombed and to scavenge for food. He was caught up in the Nigerian Civil War, better known as the Biafran War between 1967 and 1970. Ugwumpiti, the title Maurice chose for his film, is the word the children invented for the mixture of corn flour, powdered milk and water that the Red Cross provided, ‘the most beautiful food that has ever been.’ Thousands of children queued each day from morning till night, some of them dying in the line. One day Maurice won the singing competition held for the children so was able, with his younger brother, to lick the remains out of the massive oil drum.

Maurice’s story of how he survived the war, how his parents, in the UK, eventually tracked him down and arranged for him and his brother to join them in Hackney, is peppered with surprising, often amusing anecdotes. He talks about how he and his brother got knocked down by a taxi as they were not used to traffic; how they stole food from the fridge at night and stuffed it under their mattresses because they could not believe they would have food the next day; how they stuffed chocolate under the car seat because they did not want to tell their parents that it tasted too sweet. “I much preferred roasted rat,” Maurice laughed.

For the film Maurice returned to the house he lived in as a child in Hackney, “This is my England’ and he returned to Benthall Juniors where he went to school. An assembly of children were spellbound as Maurice told his story about coming,  “to this very school” and as he sang several of the music tracks, inspired by his childhood, that are featured in the film.

Ugwumpiti, was recently launched at the Child Migrant Stories event at the V&A Museum of Childhood, part of the Being Human Festival. There was a great response.

‘Maurice’s heart told the story well.’

People readily linked Maurice’s experience with what is happening today.

‘Then is now. Does our society really care? And is that reflected in government policy?”

Do tell others about Ugwumpiti. Why not arrange a screening alongside a Q&A with Maurice and others. Or better still invite his band, One Jah, to give a live performance of some of the music featured in the film inspired by his childhood.

Email world@childmigrantstories.com

Watch Ugwumpiti on the Child Migrant Stories website on https://childmigrantstories.com/portfolio/maurice-okechukwu-nwokeji/

Or on YouTube Ugwumpiti – Maurice’s Story

 

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Maurice performing at the national launch of Being Human Festival at Senate House, London, 17th November 2016.Photograph courtesy of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Copyright Lloyd Sturdy.

 

 

 

Being Human

Former child migrants, friends, family, neighbours and the general public gathered at the V&A Museum of Childhood on November 19th for a series of films screenings, talks and performances about Child Migrant Stories as part of the national Being Human Festival. The programme of music, intercultural games, films and music by refugee and other artists attracted over 2,000 people.

The first film to be shown was Child Migrant Stories – Voices Past and Present, featuring 18 of the child migrants who came to East London under the age of 18 from 1930 to the present day. From Bangladesh to Bethnal Green, from the Caribbean to Clapton and from Somalia to Stamford Hill. People held their breath as Marie talked about the separation from her family during civil war in Rwanda. But they laughed when Heather, from Jamaica, recounted how she was told she would turn white when she went to England.

One ten year old girl said she enjoyed the film and learnt ‘that many refugees suffered abuse and racism at school.” She wanted, “to know more about all the kids stories. I was very engaged!”

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

Other people commented:

“The film is fabulous.”

“Great humanity, warm and moving.”

“Increased my understanding and made me appreciate difficulties for new arrivals in a strange country.”

“It gives a friendly face or multiple faces to a topic that is often treated via a negative angle.”

Then we showed Passing Tides, the story of Linh Vu who escaped Vietnam by boat with her father. People gasped as they watched Linh, on screen,  draw the small boat with 50 people crammed inside. This was followed by a Q&A session with Linh and a reading by Tina Puryear, co-author of Linh’s father’s recent autobiography, A Catholic with Confucian Tendencies.

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Q&A session with Linh Vu after the screening of Passing Tides. Photo by Mitchell Harris.

People appreciated the film’s, “authenticity of emotions” and 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.” They thought, “the reading from the autobiography really added to the perspectives.”

Ugwumpiti, the story of Maurice Nwokeji who was caught up in the Biafran war, was screened next. People were horrified to hear about Maurice’s experience of war but laughed at how, when he joined his parents in the UK and they offered him chocolate as a treat, he hated it. “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?”

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Q&A session with Maurice Nwokeji after the screening of Ugwumpiti. Photo by Mitchell Harris.

The last film, Life is a Destiny, is about how Argun Imamzade rescued his family’s photographic album from his bombed out house in Cyprus in the 1960s. People loved the discussion between Argun and his grandchildren on film about what they would rescue if they had to leave home in a hurry. His oldest grandchild recounts how she would seize her mobile phone. Her grandfather looks puzzled but his granddaughter has a point. Her photographs would be stored on her phone and  she would use it to make sure other family members were safe.

There were many ideas on what else the project could do – more research; more videos; more in depth stories; more talks; exhibitions; one minute films shot by migrants of their daily lives; social media for teenagers to talk about migration; films used as a resource for education, inspiration and projects for schools, NGOS, Unicef, Save the Children – the list was endless.This all needs resources, of course, and present funding has come to an end.

We retired upstairs to the hall to hear Maurice’s rousing reggae band, One Jah. Maurice thanked people for hearing his story, something he has always yearned to tell. He played music inspired by his childhood, hiding in foxholes to escape the bombs and scavenging for snakes and lizards. He and his younger brother would not have survived if the Red Cross had not provided them with one bowl of food a day, what the children named Ugwumpiti, the title he chose for his film.

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Maurice Nwokeji and One Jah perform at the end of the day

 

Home Is Where: an innovative new theatre performance inspired by Third Culture Kids

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Flyer for Home is Where: Mark Ota, Sharlit Deyzac, Joanna Greaney and Leonora Fyfe in rehearsal. Photo courtesy of Amy Clare Tasker. .

What is a migrant? An immigrant? An expat?

What am I? I was born in the UK to English parents, and in 1990, when I was five years old, we moved to California. I remember being friends with the children of local British families for a time, and then when I went to school, I made friends with my American classmates. Eventually I picked up the local accent, so my new friends would stop asking me to “say something in English” on the playground. My sisters and I must have changed subtly, slowly, immeasurably over the next decade or so; I will never forget, in the car park of a pub on the outskirts of Leeds, hearing my grandad’s friend remark, “It’s a shame you’ve all become American.”

Is it? And did we? We immigrated, we assimilated, we naturalised as citizens… all before I understood what any of that really meant. I went to university in California, began my career in San Francisco, and then in 2013, having lived 23 of my 28 years in the United States, I moved to London.

What am I? In some ways, I feel like an immigrant: it took me a full week when I arrived in London to figure out where to buy coat hangers; I don’t speak like the people around me; I’ve never seen an episode of Eastenders. But in other ways, I do feel I’ve “returned”: dark chocolate digestives are no longer a special treat to unpack from a relative’s suitcase; I can now see my extended family more than once every year or two; and there’s just something about being back in England that feels right.

What am I? I was never fully American, and I’m no longer fully British. But I have passports that say I’m a citizen of both countries. Is there a word for what I am now? I don’t claim the “expatriate” label, with all its colonial baggage

“Repatriate” isn’t quite right either (not that I’ve ever heard anyone call themselves that). What the hell am I? https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/mar/13/white-people-expats-immigrants-migration

When I stumbled across the term Third Culture Kid, I was surprised, relieved, and deeply moved to learn that there were others out there like me, people who slipped through the cracks of traditional definitions, who couldn’t easily answer the question “where are you from?”

If this is ringing a bell for you, there are all kinds of resources out there for our community: start with David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken’s book, Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds.

They write: “A third culture kid is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside their parents’ culture. The third culture kid builds relationships to all the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture are assimilated into the third culture kid’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of the same background, other TCKs.”

The world is full of stories like mine, and yet so many of us go about our lives in isolation, thinking there can’t possibly be anyone else who understands our experience. As a theatre maker, I want to tell these stories, to share them with other third culture kids who rarely see themselves represented on stage, and to give mainstream audiences a peek into our cross-cultural lives.

Since 2014, I have been working with a team of fellow cultural hybrids in London to create Home Is Where… a verbatim theatre project with music, movement, and multimedia. We’ve interviewed dozens of third culture kids, and writer Guleraana Mir is weaving together their true stories with a fictional narrative inspired by our post-Brexit political landscape. Our cast of five actors will take on the role of a resistance movement in a futuristic dystopia, using an innovative headphone verbatim technique to tell real-life TCK stories from the interviews.

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Sharlit Deyzac, Kal Sabir and Mark Ota in an early performance of Home is Where at Camden People’s Theatre. Photo by Charlie Kerson.

Alongside the performance at Rich Mix on 2 September, we’ve partnered with HOPE not hate to offer a free and inclusive workshop before the show, using theatre games to explore the themes of the play: identity, culture, and belonging. This is one of many events in a national Weekend of HOPE, part of the #MoreInCommon campaign. 

Even if you’re nowhere near London, you can listen to the stories in our Online Oral History Library, which holds short audio clips from the 30+ third culture kids we’ve interviewed.

These are stories of incredible journeys, difficult transitions, identity crises, daring adventures, teenage rebellions, hilarious misunderstandings, horizon expansions, international friendship, and above all common humanity.

“I hate that question, ‘where are you from,’ because I was born somewhere, but actually all the other countries where I’ve lived are part of who I am.” Valerie Teller

“I just belong to this world, that’s my nationality. I’m global.” Ria Ulleri

“We have the same experience. We talk about it and it’s such a relief. To hear that your experience is not unique, and other people have felt this same way their whole lives. And so you belong in your not-belonging.” Aslam Husain

Working on Home Is Where… has brought me into a community of people whose stories span the globe, people who look different and speak different languages, who have had vastly different experiences from mine, and yet we find so much common ground. We all see the world through a wide lens, we don’t always know which team we’re cheering for at the Olympics, we have friends and family in every time zone. We feel at home in airports and train stations… and with each other. You are welcome to join us.

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Cast and creative team of Home is Where: Kal Sabir, Joanna Greaney, Mark Ota, Amy Clare Tasker, Guleraana Mir, Sharlit Deyzac, Yaiza Varona, Paula Paz and Leonora Fyfe. Photo courtesy of Amy Clare Tasker.

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Amy Clare Tasker is the artistic director of Amy Clare Tasker Performance Lab, the theatre company creating Home Is Where…

You can read more about the project and creative team at http://www.amyclaretasker.com/hyphenated

 

Lost lifeline for 3000 unaccompanied child migrants in Europe

Just 18 votes made the difference blast night between the UK refusing and accepting 3000 unaccompanied vulnerable child refugees. The government narrowly defeated a cross-party amendment to the immigration bill, tabled by Lord Alf Dubs in the House of Lords. Dubs knows the importance of the issue. He came to the UK through Kindertransport, the government backed programme that brought over 10,000 child refugees from Europe in the run up to the second world war.

The government argued that accepting 3000 of these vulnerable children, would encourage families to send children on ahead of them. But it takes a teenage refugee from Syria, who met Cooper and Dubs for an event outside parliament, to make the salient point: “Most of the children in the camps do have their families and parents with them but those stranded around Europe and in Calais are very vulnerable because other people could do something to them. That is the fundamental difference between the children in Europe and those in the camps.”

10,000 of these children have already gone missing according to the EU’s Criminal Intelligence Agency. Many are feared to have fallen into the hands of criminal gangs.

Read more about this on http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/25/tories-Lord Dubs, himseldfvote-against-accepting-3000-child-refugees?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=168928&subid=492575&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2