Diaspora Film Feature – Al-Kehdawy

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This is Al-Kehdawy, a Syrian grandfather we met in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan.

He is a magical, gentle man who I bonded with straight away, despite not sharing a common language.

He is an artist and sculptor and spends his long days in the camp making models of traditional Syrian household items. He does this to keep the culture of his beloved homeland alive for the generations below him, who are being born into this camp in the desert, far from their home.

Al-Kehdawy tells his story in our latest film, Diaspora.

Diaspora weaves together the people and places that are STILL affected by the refugee crisis sweeping our world.

It’s 45 minutes long, but please take the time to honour our friends who shared their incredible stories and watch it.

Watch it instead of Love Island tonight (or as well as…you have just enough time before it starts).

This is important.

PLEASE SHARE. Everyone needs to see this.

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Diaspora

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To celebrate Eid and Refugee Week, The Worldwide Tribe presents….Diaspora.

From Syrians to Sudanese, from refugees to volunteers, from Europe to the Middle East…millions of people are affected by the refugee crisis we are STILL in the midst of.

People are on the move in the biggest migration the world has ever seen…

…But why?

Where are they going?

Why are they leaving?

Who are these people and what does this mean for the world as we know it?

How is the world responding?

In an attempt to meet those affected and find out…we bring you Diaspora.

Directed and Edited by Jamie Noel http://www.jamienoeldirector.com/

They Were Tottenham Fans

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Conversations from the ground:

Team member Sean met two Kurdish Iranian guys in the tea tent in Grande Synthe camp this week. One was 19 and an ex student, the other was 27 and an electrical engineer. Sean says:

“The pride in thier faces when they mentioned where they were from and what they used to do very quickly morphed into lingering sadness as they remembered how much had changed for them, and how uncertain their future now was…

They asked me if and what I had studied, why I was here and how long I had been here, I asked them the same. As my reason was The Liberté Cupfootball tournament, our conversation soon turned to football, a common ground that has built and sustained relationships between men the world over for almost 100 years.

They were Tottenham fans. I’m a Charlton fan. They smiled and mentioned Reza Ghoochanejhad, an Iranian Kurd who played for Charlton last season.

For me what stood out was the innocuousness of the conversation in the most irregular of settings. Through broken English we spoke about famous footballers with ease. Football really is a universal language, which is of course a tired cliché but in that moment it transcended culture and language barriers.

I got on to family, I mentioned that my uncle was Iranian, they liked this, their happiness clear but stifled, enthusiasm about the notion of acceptance from thier hoped prospective country again intermingled with angst and uncertainty of whether they can make it.

For me the conflicting emotion in the men was palpable, hope can’t spring eternal when the route is so uncertain but neither can it die in a man. The tightrope they all walk daily and the feeling you get listening to the answering of everyday questions is clear. The juxtaposition of an everyday question that has an everyday answer but an incredibly loaded subtext is quite unique.

They went on to tell me that they didn’t even really like or often drink tea, but they were in the tent as it was something to do. “better than drinking wine,” they told me.

This was quite poignant for me. Their words screamed boredom and were the potential answer you would get from a depressed man. The tea tent is one of the very few places to congregate and pass time. The wine comment spoke to me of the dangers of substance abuse in a place with no hope.

From what I could see, our football tournament (The Liberté Cup) is the only collective organized leisure activity in the Grande Synthe camp. A reminder that whatever your situation, there is always something to look forward to.”

Thank you to our amazing team on the ground in the run up to the tournament. It was such an incredible day.

Seán Sugrue
Brittany Bee Pummell
Dan Teuma
Thomas Farines
Photo by Craig Bingham www.craigbingham.com

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United with Love

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Build bridges, not borders.
Choose unity, not separation.
Choose love, not fear.
Go into every situation with an open heart.

We are all connected.
We are all the same.
We are all human.
We all live on this world together and we should share it accordingly.

We must come together in support of one another.

We are one.

The Worldwide Tribe

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Imagine This…

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You live in a huge house. It has 196 rooms. All the 196 rooms have a name and people who live in them. Your room is called Syria. A long corridor separates all 196 rooms from each other.

One day a fire starts in your beautiful room, and as it becomes engulfed in flames, you are forced to escape with your family. You loved your room, but you had no choice. You reach the door to the next room, but you soon see that this room is very full. Lots of other people from your room got there before you. You go on to the next room, where the residents say they will give refuge to only two members of your family, but they have to live in the toilet. You have no choice, you accept. You leave your elderly mother and father there, they are struggling with the journey.

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You keep going, still looking for a safe room for you to live. You’d make a great addition to that room, willing to work hard do your bit to make that room great. You reach another room, they are full too. The occupants tell you about a group of rooms further down the corridor, who they say will welcome you. They have lots of space in those rooms. The problem, is, to get to these rooms, you have to cross a long, scary, flooded corridor. It’s a risky, difficult journey but you’re left with very little option. A man from the room you’re currently camped outside tells you that he can help you cross if you give him £2000. With the last bit of hope you can muster, you give him everything you and my family have left.

You look down the corridor, past the flood, it looks calm and peaceful. You swallow your fear and keep going with your family, reassuring them all will be well when you make it to the other side. You have never been to this part of the house due to the security guards heavily guarding the doors in this area. You don’t know it at all, but you’ve heard good things about it. The crossing is rough, but somehow you manage to make it, your children hungry, cold and traumatised.

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You hug your children close and tell them not to worry, everything will be fine, you are safe now, You knock on the first door of this new part of the house. Someone opens it and you smile and greet him nervously. The man chases you away from the door with a bat, telling you to go back to your own room! Your children are terrified, you run and run until you reach the next door, praying someone here will help you? You knock, and as the door opens you see a lavish dinner party going on inside, the tables laden with food. Your daughters haven’t eaten for 4 days. You swallow your pride and ask for some leftovers. The people at the door turn you away in disgust as if you are somehow inferior to them, as if you did something wrong. You don’t understand…

When you reach the next door, it is slightly ajar so you sneak in. You feel guilty, having never committed a crime before, but you are ready to do anything to protect your family and give them some sort of future. This looks like the only way. You hide yourselves in the toilet, the conditions are bad, and it makes your daughters ill with infection. Life was so great in your room before the fire, you never would have expected to be living in this way.

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The occupants of the room soon find you crammed into the small toilet. They tell you they will tolerate you here. You make life in the toilet as nice as you know how to. You put flowers outside the door and hang your daughter’s artwork on the walls. You build a little area for your children to learn in and spend hours with them learning the language of the new room that you’re in, sometimes with the help of some kind residents of the room who regularly come and visit.

One day the boss of the room changes his mind and gives you one hour to leave the toilet. He makes these demands from his comfy bed in the very spacious room, and gives you no alternative or time to think of a plan. There are many empty beds inside his room but he doesn’t care. You beg him to let you stay in the toilet but it’s no use. Within the hour, he sends his brothers into the toilet, with sticks and tear gas and they beat you and your children. Seeing them suffer like this breaks your heart.

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You hang around in the corridor, finding corners to camp in at night. By day, you wander them aimlessly, wondering what you did to deserve this life, and what the others, in these comfortable room did to deserve theirs. You slowly watch as your children starve, whilst you listen to the laughter behind the closed doors where people eat and dance and sing. Your children’s faces grow more and more vacant as the life slips out of them. Will we all die out here in these corridors?

How can we all live in one house, a house where one family can go through hell whilst other families live in luxury, as if neither that hell nor its occupants exist. How can people ignore the cries of their fellow housemates? We were all born in this house…

Thank you to Shah Lalon Amin and Nel Hargrave for inspiring this version.

Beautiful photos of the Calais Jungle by 5ftinf

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How Do We Make It Better?

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I’m on the train home from Paris right now feeling completely inspired.

Today I presented as part of a human rights day organised by students at a school on the outskirts of Paris.

The students themselves chose the topic of ‘Refugee Rights’ this year, having focussed on various issues such as access to education for women, organ donation and modern-day slavery. Each year the ‘Human Rights Team’ do their research and organise an event for the younger years of the school.

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Today began with showing two of The Worldwide Tribe’s documentaries about the camp in Calais. I followed these with a presentation about how powerful we are as individuals and how each one of us can take action and truly make a difference. This was then followed by a debate.

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The students posed questions to the kids in the audience, aged between 8 and 11, and the answers blew me away. The things the students came out with were passionate and pure and genuinely made me feel like I wanted to cry. They said things like:

‘I think we should open our borders, these people seem really nice!’

And ‘I think we should just all share!’

Examples of thier beautiful questions are:

‘Why aren’t these people allowed in France or England?’

And ‘How do we make it better?’

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I was blown away by the integrity, open-mindedness and compassion, and it left me wondering how the reality has moved so far away from those basic things we teach our kids…love, kindness, sharing. It’s pretty simple!

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These pictures are from when me and Nils did a similar event in a school in Gevena a little while ago, and yesterday I went back to my old uni, Nottingham Trent, to lecture there three years after graduating, which was also amazing!

If you work in education, have kids in school or know a school / college / university that might be interested in a guest lecture or workshop, please email jess@theworldwidetribe.com for more information.

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Silence

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This post is hard for me to write.

For 7 days now I have known about a horrible story unfolding in the camp in Calais, but until now have felt unable to write about it…

But as the situation gets more desperate, I think it’s time for people to know…

This story is about 8 refugees from Iran. Thier names are:

Sasan, 17 years old, a student
Mokthar, 34 years old, a Maths teacher
Mohammed, 25 years old, an aeronautical engineer
Daoud, 30 years old, a tattoo artist
Mohammed, 43 years old, a jeweller
Rezza, 24 years old, a personal trainer
Hamed, 25 years old, a car dealer
Ishmail, 46 years old, a builder

A week ago, these men sewed their mouths closed and stopped eating or drinking, in protest against the forced and brutal evictions of the southern side of the Jungle by the French Authorities.

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Their intention is to raise awareness about the complete atrocities currently being carried out in the camp by the French Government.

These men have a clear message – People need to know what is happening in the camp right now. The people currently being subjected to this injustice HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG. All they did, was be unfortunate enough to be born into a country which is not safe. There is no other difference between them and us.

Asylum is a right and refugee families should not be persecuted in this way, they are innocent, they are victims of war, of genocide.

These men were already weak from their traumatic journey across Europe. Many of the refugees in the camp are suffering from illness and infection, malnutrition and post traumatic stress syndrome. Although they are determined and focused, they are now gradually growing weaker by the day. they say they are prepared to die for this cause. It wont be long before they do.

And it looks as though they will. If thier hope, to stop the evictions, does not happen and soon…I can’t even bear to think of the consequences.

This is in France, in 2016.

Tom Radcliffe, a British volunteer has also joined the hunger strike.

Please sign the petition for the UN to acknowledge the breach of human rights in Calais.

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