SOS Ecuador crowdfunder established to help victims of the Ecuadorian earthquake that took place 19th April
Ecuadorian students across the UK are attempting to raise £50,000 before 16th May to help victims of the recent disaster in their home country after Ecuador was hit by a devastating earthquake.
The Crowdfunder explains:
"On Saturday April 16th a powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on the Richter scale shook Ecuador’s northwestern coast, with up to 535 aftershocks to date. For the country, this is the worst catastrophe it endures in the last four decades.
More than 655 people have been killed, over 5,000 have been injured and about 29,000 people made homeless. About 1500 buildings, including homes, hospitals and schools have either been destroyed or severely damaged. These figures are expected increase considerably as rescue teams make their way through the collapsed structures, with the expected death toll already in the thousands.
The images and testimonies of people affected by this disaster are heart wrenching as families have lost their homes and many loved ones.
Hundreds of Ecuadorian students in the United Kingdom, with the support of the Ecuadorian Embassy, have come together to raise funds for their country as it faces this arduous humanitarian challenge. We are asking you to join in and help contribute with our cause #SOSEcuador.
All donations will be directed to increase the capacity of emergency teams deployed in affected areas. These funds will assist to provide vital aid to people in need, and hopefully, return some peace into their lives. These people need your help, and they need it promptly. Please help us relief their tragedy. Every single contribution counts and will make a difference in the lives of the affected families."
Manchester University students have been working to help fundraise for SOS Ecuador and held a cultural event at the weekend.
Students Camila and Cristina also made an appeal on Migrant Echoes. You can hear their segment here.
For more information visit: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sos-ecuador
In this post, Hannah Milton reviews the recent performance of 'Still We Rise' by Women Asylum Seekers Together and Manchester Migrant Solidarity who performed at the Zion Arts Centre in Hulme, Manchester.
Last Wednesday, members of Women Asylum Seekers Together (WAST) and Manchester Migrant Solidarity (MISOL) came together for a presentation of song, dance, drama and spoken work in "Still We Rise", a moving tale of the tragic struggle of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK made bearable by the collective.
The performance was peppered with powerful soul singing, demonstrating the powerful African roots of their vocal coach. The songs were descriptive of the situations the women found themselves in, and whilst many were in English, several women performed in their native languages; a nice touch allowing for the free celebration of the diversity of identities and cultures in the room, all united in support of each other.
Through the means of theatre, the women acted, danced and sang their stories onto the scene. The audience heard moving tales of exploitation, abuse and discrimination, played out across the unfair stage of the British Immigration System, with its unfeeling bureaucracy and ever-worsening reforms. An already emotional atmosphere was made all the more poignant by the announcement that one of the WAST members had lost her daughter that very same day provoking a minute's silence at the start of the show.
A number of issues were touched on, ranging from the day to day humiliation of failed attempts to pay with the government issue AZURE card (http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/Advocacy/Refugees/Azure-payment-card) – the only “money” asylum seekers are entrusted with, to the ominous threat of the detention centre. For many of these women, being sent to a detention centre is an ever present threat; essentially a prison camp for them and their children where the majority of the possible futures hold little hope, and all are uncertain.
Towards the end of the play, scenes of protest were played out as the women recalled their experiences rallying against Yarl’s Wood detention centre, infamous for the abuse carried out there against vulnerable women who often arrive having fled persecution in their countries of origin. A powerful chant of “SHUT DOWN YARL’S WOOD!” was followed by the more emotive, but no less impassioned chorus, “We want Rosa to stay… Not today, not tomorrow, but forever.”
At its heart, the show came across as tragically honest, detailing the mistreatment of immigrants and asylum seekers under our current political system showing not only the many faces of desperation which result from these scenarios, but also the underlying determination and strong will of those who will not be beaten, even in the hands of a system which is designed to make them lose. Despite the challenges they face, these women come out fighting and resolute. United they will strive to better their lives and those of their families.
For more information on WAST or MISOL, or to find out how you can help visit their websites:
Sad news for refugees in Greece.
Deportation of refugees from Greece to Turkey begins today under the EU deal. According to this agreement people who apply for asylum in Greece and have their applications refused, will be returned to Turkey. Today 200 migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan were sent back to Turkey.
One reason behind this deal is to stop human trafficking across the Aegean and The Mediterranean and therefore to stop death toll in the most deadliest sea crossings. It has been said that so far this year, the death toll has climbed at an even faster rate than over the same period in 2015. However, following the belated decision by Europe’s leaders in late April to reinstate an effective search and rescue mission, this has for the time being been stemmed.
Those migrants who are attempting this perilous journey to Europe mainly come from Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Nigeria. But by far the single largest number by nationality is Syrian.
The EU is paying Turkey more than £4 billion over the next three years to contain 2.5 million refugees. However the deal to send people back across the Aegean Sea has been fiercely criticised by rights groups on ethical grounds. The Spectator leading article reiterates that ” the problem, is that Turkey is being offered more than money. The EU, in its desperation, says that within a few months it will offer Turkey’s 77 million citizens the ability to travel to any of its 28 member states without the need for a visa. Worse, it will fast-track Turkey’s application to become a full member of the EU — and turn a blind eye to the human rights abuses of Recep Erdogan’s regime. Not that he wants to join the EU: he just wants to show his domestic audience that can behave how he likes, lock up who he likes, and have the EU eating out of his hand.”
This article was originally featured on Fereshteh's blog. You can see the original article here.
A delegation of Manchester based activists and supporters from a variety of different organisations, including MiSol, RAPAR and anti-fascist groups came together on March 19th to join the 'M19' demonstration called by Stand Up To Racism in support of refugees fleeing to Europe.
The 20,000 strong nation-wide demo was one of many marches happening around the world.
Migrant Echoes' Project Worker, Sophie Gardiner, who has conducted many of our interviews for the Migrant Echoes' podcasts since the project's inception, volunteered to cover the events from the perspective of the Manchester convoy as they marched from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square, where a rally, chaired by anti-racist campaigner Weyman Bennett, saw speeches from many inspiring individuals including 'Campaigner Maz', actress Vanessa Redgrave, Lee Jesper of 'BARAC UK', the mother of Sarah Reed and members of the refugee community.
The rally saw the attendance of a huge variety of organisations from across the country; trade unions of various cities and counties, student unions from universities across England, the 'Black Lives Matter' movement was a very strong and vocal presence, 'Free Palestine' campaigners, Kurdistan Solidarity groups, Socialists, Labour Party members, LGBT rights activists, Anti-War protesters, and so on.
About the march, Sophie said; "I've been to the Stand Up to Racism national demonstrations for the passed couple of years, but I was interested to see how this one would go, taking into account the Refugee Crisis, and there was definitely a huge number of new comers. Some of the girls I interviewed at the rally from the Manchester group said this was their first protest, and I think there were a lot of first timers there who've seen what's going on, with the Refugee Crisis, with Islamophobia and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement- it's really got people coming out and protesting more than we have seen previously- Weyman Bennett said this was much bigger than last year, so I think people are by no means losing faith in these movements."
Recording for Migrant Echoes' podcast, Sophie spoke with Stand Up To Racism Campaigner, Nahella Ashraf as well as fellow protesters on the road to London and fellow marchers at the rally such as former asylum-seeker and Sudanese rights campaigner for the Beja Congress, Mohammed al-Halengy.
"I know Mohammed, he was a case with us at RAPAR where I've also volunteered for some years now, before he got his status and moved down to London. You always run into someone at these events."
"It was also great to see LGBT rights people and NHS folk there, especially because xenophobes and right-wingers, they often like to use the NHS and gay rights issues as arguments against immigration claiming that migrants exploit or burden the National Health Service, and have this perception that migrants- particularly Middle Eastern migrants, are all homophobic, so this show of solidarity is very important in proving these stereotypes and inaccurate perceptions wrong, when the NHS relies on migrants to function and many refugees, Muslims and people of Middle Eastern origin, are also members of the LGBT community!"
"There was some good speakers as well this year. There was a really energetic young Kurdish woman who is seeking asylum, she was great. Vanessa Redgrave spoke really well, comparing the current crisis with WW2, I got really excited because she mentioned my hero, Sylvia Pankhurst, and how she campaigned for Jewish refugees to be given visas to escape the Nazis but they were refused. The comedian Jeremy Hardy spoke as well, he's always very good. The mother of Sarah Reed, a young black woman who died in Holloway, she spoke and it really struck a cord with everyone. Lee Jesper of BARAC UK, he was fun, everyone liked him. I tried to record as much of the speeches as I could with the time we had before we had to get the bus back to Manchester."
The 'Refugee Crisis' was the central theme of the march. Stand Up To Racism has been a central movement in support of the refugees fleeing Africa and the Middle East, and has organised a number of fundraising initiatives and events as well as delegations of solidarity to the refugees currently trapped in what is known as 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais, that has been repeatedly destroyed in recent weeks by French authorities, harassed by French police and attacked by racists.
"Everyone was really optimistic at the end of the day. Nahella spoke to the coach about how successful it was and all the future activities from SUTR. A few right-wing nationalists have been saying we achieved nothing, and everyone's just laughing at us and no one wants refugees in the UK, but all I can say is, 20,000 people protesting alone- not to mention everyone we know who support us but couldn't come along to the march, and all we saw of anyone opposing the march was like, 20 'Britain First' protesters near Piccadilly Circus. The outpour of support for refugees has been so much more than I expected."
Many thanks to Sophie for covering the events of the M19 march for Migrant Echoes through photography, video and audio interviews which you will soon be able to enjoy in our upcoming podcast.
To honour International Women's Day, Fereshteh Mozzafari introduces us to just some of the brave Iranian women fighting for freedom of speech, reproductive rights and the limits of women's freedom under the current regime.
Another 8th of March has arrived and the international woman's day is cherished in many counties around the world. However while we , in the west, celebrate this day, there are millions of women in developing or dictatorship countries who can't commemorate simply because their government sees it as a political act and a threat against itself.
I want to take this opportunity to introduce you a few brave Iranian women who fight for women rights in Iran and have been in jail for that matter. Some still in jail as Prisoners of Conscience. Because 8th of march is their day as well and it's true that without such brave women and their fight for equal rights we would not have had what we got now.
Nasrin Sotoudeh is a human rights lawyer and activist in Iran, the winner of many human rights awards.
She has represented imprisoned Iranian opposition activists and politicians following the disputed June 2009 Iranian presidential elections as well as prisoners sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors.
Nasrin's first work in the field of women's rights was a diverse collection of interviews, reports, and articles for the journal Daricheh. The editor-in-chief of the publication rejected the collection which "made Sotoudeh even more determined in her work for women's rights". She is one of the key leaders of one million signature.
One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws, also known as Change for Equality, is a campaign by women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of hanging discriminatory laws against women in their country.
Nasrin has been arrested a few times. Last time she was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Evin Prison.
In January 2011, Iranian authorities sentenced her to 11 years in prison, in addition to barring her from practicing law and from leaving the country for 20 years. An appeals court later reduced Sotoudeh's prison sentence to six years, and her ban from working as a lawyer to ten years.
In jail, she went on hunger strike two times. First strike was to protest being denied visits and phone calls from her family which last four weeks. Again on 17 October 2012, she began an indefinite hunger strike in protest of new restrictions placed on her family visits. She her hunger strike after 49 days following a short visit of some parliament members at Evin prison where they acknowledged and implemented her requests on lifting her daughter's travel ban.
Nasrin was released on 18 September 2013 along with ten other political prisoners days before an address by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
to the United Nations. She has been active since her release and is being threatened by hardliners.
Narges is a human rights activist and the vice president of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.
She is one of the key leaders in "One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws", also known as Change for Equality, which is a campaign by women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of changing discriminatory laws against women in their country.
Narges has been in and out of prison for more than a decade for her support of human rights in Iran. She was first arrested in 1998 for her criticisms of the Iranian government and spent a year in prison.
In April 2010, she was summoned to the Islamic Revolutionary Court for her membership in the Human rights Centre. She was briefly released on US$50,000 bail but re-arrested several days later and detained at notorious Evin prison.
Narges's health declined while in custody, and she developed an epilepsy-like disease causing her to periodically lose muscle control.
Narges has a twin and they have moved to France to live with their father who is an activist in exile. She wrote a letter last year to explain what it means to be apart from her children. "
One night I was sleeping in my cell. Twas near sunrise. My dear daughter, who would always give the loudest kisses, gave me a kiss on the cheek. I felt her warm body and her small lips on my cheeks. It was Kiana. I opened my arms to hold her close to me. I opened my eyes, it wasn’t Kiana. I cried for so many hours. I cried to a point where I thought my tears would soon run out.''
You can read this beautiful and sad letter in the amnesty website.
Atena Farghadani, 29, is an Iranian artist and political activist, who is currently
imprisoned. Amnesty International considers her a prisoner of conscience.
In her cartoon, in which she criticized a draft law which would outlaw voluntary sterilisation and restrict access to measures of birth control, she portrayed Iranian government officials as monkeys and goats.
After publishing her artworks on Facebook, she was arrested and jailed for three months in Evin Prison on charges of spreading propaganda, insulting
members of parliament, and insulting the Supreme Leader!
She was released in November.
Atena sent letters of protest over her treatment to the authorities, but did not receive a reply. She then posted a video online in which she explained to the public about her experience in Evin prison and that she was being strip-searched, beaten and verbally abused by guards.
In January 2015, she was arrested again. Three weeks later, she went on a hunger strike to protest against conditions at the prison and following that she got a heart attack.
On 1 June 2015, judge of the Tehran court found her guilty on these charges and sentenced her to 12 years and nine months in prison. In September 2015, Atena was charged with an 'illegitimate sexual relationship short of adultery' and 'indecent conduct' after shaking the hand of her lawyer, who visited her in prison after her trial; her lawyer was also charged.
Atena Daemi, 27, is a young activist sentenced to 14 years in prison for facebook postings and peaceful protests.
Atena was held for several months under “temporary detention” despite her lawyer’s repeated requests for her release on bail, was prosecuted under four charges: “assembly and collusion against national security,” “propaganda against the state,” “insulting the Supreme Leader and the sacred,” and “concealing crime evidence” by a Tehran Revolutionary Court. Atena did not accept any of her charges and has since appealed the court’s ruling.
She was released last month in the midst of her 14year sentence on $232,000 bail while the sentence is still in effect.
If I want to add to include all female activists , free or in jail, it w ill soar to hundreds.
Despite the fact that hardliners do not enjoy women's participation in society and force laws to suppress them and keep them out of sight, women made up 60% of university students.
They are good athletes (Iranian Women Futsal team won Asian championship in 2015), merchants, engineers, scientists and so on.
Although that is not an easy battle, but there will be no stop until their rights is recognised in law. The latest campaign of women was initiated against compulsory Hijab started on facebook by Masih Alinejad a journalist in exile.
The page called my stealthy freedom, has nearly one million followers and women posting their pictures to protest against compulsory hijab.
The fact that many men also supporting this campaign show that Iranians are willing to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the women of their country.
"How will the £35,000 income threshold for non-EU citizens settling in the UK affect you? Is the introduction of the income threshold affecting your future plans? How will the introduction of the income threshold affect your business, workplace and/or community?" 
Today Stop35K, a campaign that began in response to the UK government's plans to raise the threshold for Tier 2 Skilled Workers, is urging everyone to tell their story on Parliament's facebook page before the 35K debate goes to parliament.
On the front of their campaign website, Stop35K explains:
"Tier 2 General Skilled Workers who do not make £35,000 salary or who have been in the UK for 6 years, will need to leave or be deported.
The plans have naturally caused great concern for many individuals and families who have or are related to migrants who fail to meet this narrow criteria and who have already been long settled in the UK.
"If you are a skilled worker in the UK, your legal status depends on your Tier 2 Skilled Worker visa. This work visa usually expires after 5 years, after which you must either leave the UK or apply for settlement (known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR). From this April, if you apply for settlement then you need to earn over £35,000. If you earn less than this, you will not be allowed to remain in the UK even if you have lived here for years, contributing to the UK culture and economy."
There has already been a huge turn out on the UK Parliament facebook page which has been designated for the public to share their stories on before the debate goes to parliament. Some of the most recent examples include:
"This is really amazing, I am an immigrant and have been working in the NHS for the past 14years, till date my salary as a band 7 nurse is £32,000. So please tell me how you expect this people to earn £35,000 within a year, when a government organisation is paying this low. This is indirect discrimination in a developed country. And it's an unfair way of dealing with migrants who are willing to contribute to the economy of UK as these people are not entitled to any social benefits and also restricted in what they can do earn more" - Bukky Omopariola
"NHS pharmacists are not on the protected list and do not earn that sort of money until many years into their careers. We can't recruit enough as it is and now the government are going to deport my colleague?" - Sarah Reed
"I am currently teaching at a university in China and met my American boyfriend - a teacher - here two years ago. I'd like to one day move back home with him but although we of course both plan to find full-time jobs; the realities of the sort of salary he could expect to make as a full time teacher and the fact that my salary is not even included in the £35k calculations means that even if I have a job with a significantly higher salary this policy would make it almost impossible for me to move long-term back to the UK." - Rachel Ashe
"What about Non-EU university students? They're one of the biggest sources of revenue for British Universities with extremely restricted after-graduation working rights. That's preposterous! Great Britain's progress is BECAUSE OF IMMIGRANTS not DESPITE them." - Neel Deshpande
"I have three university degrees and work in the international development sector, where very few jobs pay over £35 000. I support myself comfortably and present no burden whatsoever to the UK system, but this rule means that soon I will be forced to leave my home, my partner and my job. This £35k threshold determines the worth of an individual based solely on income rather than contribution to society, which is not just inhumane -- it's shortsighted." - Megan Daigle
The Petition Committee has scheduled a debate on a petition about this issue on Monday 7 March. Tell Parliament how this would affect you by commenting on their facebook page by midnight on Thursday 3 March.
Your comments will then be shared with MPs and used to help inform the debate.
The Dublin Law - The government wants to maintain the right to deport asylum-seekers to the first EU country they arrive in
The Dublin Law is being challenged in court in several cases where lawyers are battling against the government's use of the legislation.
The Dublin Law means that the UK can deport asylum-seekers and refugees back to the first EU country that they enter, with issues such as individuals facing continued persecution in the first EU country of entry being put forward.
The Guardian reported how one Syrian refugee arrived in the UK to join his family, but was threatened with deportation to Italy when the police found that he had already been fingerprinted and processed there.
In the article by Harriet Grant, the Syrian national (who is given the alias Ahmad) describes his experience of brutality at the hands of Italian police in Rome as well as his violent forced deportation back to Italy on the orders of the Home Office; "They tied me up with straps and four men took me on to the plane crying and screaming, including a doctor because I said I was going to kill myself.”
“I pleaded with them to send me back to Syria, I told them I would rather die than go back to Italy,” he said. “In Rome, the police held me down and beat me to get my fingerprints and I slept on the street. But they say this is the European law, you must go to Italy.”
Campaigners against the Dublin Law insist that the regulation puts pressure on services in these countries that are already spread very thin, but also endangers vulnerable people and separates families already struggling to reunite.
The Home Office as usual, responded with; “The UK has a proud history of offering protection to those who need it,” the spokesperson said. “Each case is considered on its individual merits and in line with the rules, but we will not shoulder the burden of asylum claims which should rightly be processed by other countries.” They denied that they send any individual back to unsafe countries where they are in danger of persecution.
Maurice Wren of Asylum Aid insisted; “It’s wholly inappropriate that at a time when the rest of the EU is working together to relocate arrivals away from the countries on Europe’s borders whose asylum systems appear to be dysfunctional, Britain is trying to send asylum seekers back there.”
Is the UK not taking on it's fair share of refugees?
Since the refugee crisis escalated with continued conflict in the Middle East and the spread of persecution and poverty in countries such as Eritrea, European countries have been floundering with how to cope with the new arrivals, with many other EU countries pointing out that the UK has not taken on it's fair share of refugees, and that countries such as Greece, Italy and Germany are struggling to maintain their services, and have seen the rise in power and popularity of far-right groups and calls to turn back the boats and crude 'deterrents' such as prosecuting tourists and coastal denizens who attempt to help rescue refugees arriving by boat from North Africa.
Italy has been the main country that has received requests to return refugees and asylum-seekers. The Guardian reported that "last year, the UK made just over 2,000 requests to transfer asylum seekers to another EU country under the Dublin regulations, although only about a quarter of those requests ended in a removal within that time period." 
Angelino Alfano, Italy's Internal Affairs Minister insisted that the Dublin Law "does not reflect reality and called the requirement of asking for asylum in migrants’ country of entrance a “complete absurdity.”
"Alfano said that both Italy and Greece can no longer pay the price for the “constant flow” of refugeess across Europe. If the situation is not changed, Europe will face even greater problems"
“I think that two countries cannot pay the total bill alone. By saying it I mean neither Italy nor Greece can pay for the constant flow of immigrants, who run from atrocities in their home countries. If it continues this way, it will be an end of Europe" 
This article was written by self proclaimed 'full-time asylum-seeker' Hannibal Albendago who hails from Libya.
Hannibal is currently working on his fresh asylum claim and has been homeless in Manchester since his last refusal. Here he talks about his experiences in the British asylum system and living as an asylum-seeker in Manchester...
This is a true story of my life as an asylum seeker. I really appreciate the valuable time you have taken to read my account.
An asylum-seeker is someone whose claim for refugee status is still being decided.
The procedure can take anything from several months to a few years to be resolved, including the possibility of appealing against a refusal. Personally, it has been over 8 years and I still don’t know when I will finally be able to live as a normal person.
Whilst lengthy asylum procedures prolong uncertainty for asylum-seekers and costs for the state, rushed decisions could put people at risk and in need. The challenge of a good system of asylum is to balance speed with quality.
A brief note about the Home office: it is intimidating and scary. You can't know what they're thinking, but because of my past experiences with them, I can tell already what they’ll say: “no”, I already know they're going to say “you're lying”.
You just never know with them. It's just so uncertain, you don't know whether they’ll grant or refuse your application. Inside, when you go to sign on, you don't know if they're going to call you in for an interview or if they're going to give you a refusal straight there and then. They can do anything they feel like doing.
Whatever you say, however honest, pleading and desperate you are, they'll listen and tell you the same thing: “I don't believe you”, “I can't help you”, “Contact your caseworker”, “Contact your lawyer”. They make everything so complicated, everything is so hard.
You don't know what's going to happen to you. Eventually you find out that there's something you can do to help yourself and to make life better. So I say, ok, let me go and seek that. Now, I know I was brave but when I went I was very naïve. It’s down to the asylum seeker to prove himself.. I came from
persecution, but some people come from war. They just run. They have nothing.
I thought that claiming asylum was all I needed to do, but you have to do so much more. The burden of proof is so big. I hate the word “evidence”, it’s horrible and frustrating. They push people so far that they start forgetting things or having to lie about evidence because all they're thinking is the impossibility of returning to where they’ve come from.
I have been in the UK for a long time now, so how do they expect me to get new evidence for a fresh claim? It’s a difficult and complicated procedure.
The burden on proof should lie with the Home Office, not the person who's running away from persecution or war. Not on the person who's suffering, the person who's scared of being imprisoned, who's facing discrimination.
It shouldn't be that way. Vulnerable people should not have to prove themselves in this way, rather the burden should lie on the other side.
The “asylum seeker” label, makes people treat you as if you're beneath them. Most of the English people I've come in contact with are nice, but some are nasty.
This game is all about surviving, since I was refused in 2012 my life has been turned upside down. I get support from the red cross, but this isn’t much for a person to live on; a Food parcel and £5 per week.
Living on £5 a week, the boredom of waiting for trial, this dehumanising system and canned food, it reminds me of WW1 and WW2. I really hope we don’t have an apocalypse - I hate canned food so much! Now the Red Cross has decided to cut my support because I have been with them for over a year, it’s so ridiculous it makes me laugh! But now I’m living off £10 a week which I get it from the Boaz Trust, and thanks to them I am hosted by a very kind British couple.
I’m not competing with anyone, I have no desire to play the superiority game. I am simply trying to be a better person than I was yesterday and the day before yesterday and before that and before etc...
No permission to work and dependent on charities for food and clothes.
I'm trying to keep myself busy. I try to get involved in different organisations. It helps me to reduce the stress in my life. I may be an asylum seeker and homeless, but I love to be healthy and fit. I enjoy physical activities, exploring and living adventurously! You don't need to visit the Himalayas, the Andes, Inca ruins, Egyptian pyramids or Mount Everest to have adventures and
explore - It's all around you right where you are.
I may be homeless but never hopeless. Nor desperate. Because that’s what the UKBA (UK Border Agency) wanted me to be. Humans sometimes make things so complicated for each other; since when do you need documents to prove that you human? They never thought “This person came to our land in need of help, lets help the poor guy".
Where are the human rights? Because I thought UK was all about human rights and equality. Even though I am homeless and broke, I am still keeping up with what I love to do and what I enjoy, not even Jesus could stop me now! I have been down so many times, but I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and come through the other side.
My final words
As a young man in Libya, you don’t have any dreams. You can’t.
I want to thank all my friends and people who been involved and supported me during my life in UK so far.
Thank you for the safety, respect and values you share with refugees. Thank you for sharing with us your shelter, food, time, thoughts and smiles.
GUEST POST BY FERESHTEH MOZZAFARI - 27.2.2016
Do you remember Alyan Kurdi? The 3 years old Syrian boy whose body washed up on a beach near Bodrum and made global headlines? I think most of the people in the world have heard about him.
Now Missy higgins, Australian singer-songwriter and musician, sings a song a for him to tell his tragic story. She shared the song on her Facebook and said;
Like most people, the photo of little Alan Kurdi being carried out of the water shook me to my core. We often read about the tragic plight of refugees but I think that picture exposed us to the reality in such a raw way that the truth became inescapable.
‘Oh Canada’ simply aims to tell a story. It’s not preaching anything in particular, it’s simply my attempt to make sense out of senselessness. If it also reminds people of what happened to Alan and his family then I think that would be good – after what they went through they don’t deserve to be forgotten. If the song reminds people how the picture of that lifeless little boy made them feel then that would be even better because that proves we’re all very similar people who just happen to live under different circumstances. If the song inspires anyone to do something on behalf of refugees – to speak up for their rights and to push back against those who seek to inflame our fears and prejudices – then I think that would be best of all. ”
‘Oh Canada’ is out now, with 100% of net proceeds from sales going to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC).
The song is accompanied by a powerful animated video created by award winning director Natasha Pincus and animation director Nicholas Kallincos.
Caritas and World Vision Australia support programs in Syria and neighbouring countries that create spaces where children can express their feelings of the past and hopes for the future. The drawings in the ‘Oh Canada’ video are by children in Caritas programs in Damascus, Syria and in World Vision programs in Beirut, Lebanon. Both the global Caritas network and World Vision have helped millions of people affected by the crisis in the Middle East.
Watch the video here: