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

 

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“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.