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Grmalem, a 25-year-old from Eritrea, recounts his harrowing journey of escape from compulsory military service and economic hardship. Leaving his homeland at 14, he embarked on a perilous five-month odyssey through Ethiopia, Sudan, Libya, Italy, France, and finally to the UK. Facing inhumane conditions from smugglers in the Sahara to a treacherous sea voyage, Grmalem eventually found refuge in the UK, where he lived in foster care, discovering his passion for art and education. Despite ongoing challenges and discrimination, Grmalem dedicates himself to supporting others and raising awareness about the refugee experience, hoping for a future where empathy and humanity prevail.

Refugee Stories: Grmalem

Grmalem: My name is Grmalem. I'm 25. I'm from Eritrea. The reason I had to leave Eritrea is mainly politically economic and education. I was turning about 14, and I knew I'm gonna have to face this same story as my uncles, my dad and my sisters and all the village who has to join the military army. My dad did not have any income or salary from the government, and his whole life was serving the government. And that was not something I was planning to do for my future. And the only thing was like to run and escape the country. So this many reasons is that I have to live and change my family's future and change my future. One day I just said I'm leaving. I don't told anybody I can't because it's risky. I had to leave at night with one friend and we don't even know where we go. We don't have any torch. We don't have any lights, you know. I wasn't scared, I wasn't I wasn't scared. I was like, no, let's do it, let's, let's. It's because it's more scared. What I left is, uh. I prefer to die. My story. My journey takes five months. Stepping in my journey from Eritrea to Ethiopia, from Ethiopia to Sudan, from Sudan to Libya, from Libya to Italy, from Italy to France, from France to here. Every step I take was really, really hard and difficult. In the Sahara Desert, there were smugglers. They were kept us like really unhuman, holding guns like they ready for a war, feeding us as an animal as well. So all our life was theirs. We only give them the breath and they, they, they control the body.

 

I don't know how many days and nights were spent on the sea, but we spent more than a week. And the sea doesn't motivate you to survive. The sea never ever motivated. Really hard memories I have is people shouting from underground of the boat, vomiting as well, like people. So much vomiting. And just because so many, all the dead seaweed and fish and everything is so disgusting. I saw people come in to us in very small boat. They moved us to a bigger ship. Very, very, very, very, very big. It's like towns. It's bigger than any town I ever seen. Now. In Calais. There was a camp and people were there like for two and a half years and three years trying to go to England. We tried days and nights. I tried in every way of the lorry. I tried in everywhere of the car and we get fined every time we get tried everywhere. We fined by police. Police dog, uh, by scanned and oh, in Calais, the worst thing was the spray they spray in your eyes. And it was more than a gun surely. It was really hurt. This is where the point, I said. You call me illegal? I am legal because there is no legal rights. So I have to figure out my own legal because there were no other options, that is. But a day came. The minute came. The hours came. My I was scared. A lorry was stopped next to where I was lying in the grass. I was like, okay, let's try in this place again.

 

So I have to climb to the top of the lorry. I climbed there and tied myself really tiny and get to the UK. Junction 11, Folkestone to Ashford. He parked there. That 14 years I've been living not existed. Sorry. My best days start counting from the day of landing in the UK. I feel safe. I said. This is it. And later on. The police find me. I don't know where. And they took me to the police station and they took me to there. I think now it's called a transfer scheme. They took me to put me in the system like a refugee system. I lived in foster care for seven years with my foster carer. My super, super, super hero. And they foster in me how to be human. And they taught me that everything. What is I have now and who I am going to be. My foster carer, we couldn't communicate it. She came really wisely, said, can you please start telling me story how you came. And she gave me a pencil and a paper. And then I start drawing. Instead of writing. My first drawing was the boat, our boat and the small boat. They came in to risk us. It was that and she was like, wow, I saw that in the TV. She was saying, he came this way. And that's our first conversation with my foster mum. And since then she started buying me a canvas. Precious. All these stores, all the stores fill up. And I say to myself, I'm. I'm gonna be sure I make her proud to finish university and get graduated in art. And which is, I'm in my third year to graduate this year. So I love them and I see the love they gave me. And they are my parents and I call them mum and dad. The word refugee mean to me. It feels like illegal. It feels like. Not human.

 

It feels like separation. I do feel discrimination when people call me illegal refugee, come illegal asylum. I mean, when people called. You here and we can't find council house and they thinking we are taking their houses. That is when I feel really discrimination and it just doesn't make sense. It doesn't make me anything but me. Trying to help, trying to work, trying to do my best I can with supporting my family, with supporting others next to me. I wish and hope I can help people. I've been doing two years supplying teacher, helping the next generations to support in school, and I'm also working as a youth ambassador at KRAN. I joined KRAN to help young people, which I love to help people. When I am around people and we raise awareness of the young people, we go to school, talk about us, our journey, talk about our experience and expectation. I'm not leaving people who stop leaving their countries. Or maybe a war is going to stop forever, so people will live and I will support. And that is my hope. That's my wish to support, to be a human, to have empathy, to work hard until the day I die.

 

Refugee Stories: Grmalem

Video length - 09.52
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Sixteen-year-old Olha’s life in Ukraine is shattered by war, forcing her to flee to Poland with her younger brother. As she navigates the fear and uncertainty of being a refugee, she is touched by the kindness of strangers. Despite the chaos, Olha clings to her dreams of returning home and helping to rebuild her country, finding solace in her favorite book and music.

Refugee Stories: Olha

Olha: My name is Olha and I'm 16 years old, I'm from Ukraine. Now I'm living in Ivano Frankvisk City with my mum, dad and younger brother and my dog. I started learning taekwondo at first class of the school. Um, because I think it's it's great to to do sports and you can improve yourself. It gives me positive, only positive emotions. I can go to the competition and win some rewards. And it's it's great feeling. Before the war, I want to compete and get a black belt. But now I can't do this and I'm just staying at at one level. After the beginning of the war. I hear very loud noises and I. I realised that my parents are not at home. Uh, only me and my younger brother and my dog. Uh, my mum calls me and tell you should take your, uh, warm things and your, uh, items of clothes and your brother and you and documents. And you should go to the basement. And then they said to me that I should went to the Poland with my brother, with my grandparents. When I come to Poland, I met, uh, a lot of refugee who was living just at the bus station or train station. And when I understand that, I'm a refugee, too. I was so scared. It means just, um, other people in other countries. This word is so symbolic to me. When you are a refugee, you move to another country. And you don't know anything about that, about, uh, people, about nature or culture and etc and you don't know where you should go, where you should leave, what you should to eat. But, um, when I moved to Poland, there are a lot of people, very kind people who just help us. When it starts, everybody thinks that not long it will be maybe two weeks, maybe one month. I hope that it would stop so, so quickly, but I know it. It wouldn't. The main reason why they start war. They want to take our part of Ukraine just to expand their territory. When the war starts, leave Ukraine and went to Poland. But now I'm here in Ukraine and I don't want to leave it anymore. So I hope I would live here.

 

I would work here and build my future here in Ukraine. I have words to describe this feeling. When you can't do your normal routine, your normal things that you do before. Now me and my friends and my parents and my younger brother. We can't just, just walk. Just be happy like it was before the war. Because we can we can sit at the restaurant and we can hear that alert. Before War we was so cheerful, but now I can't. I can see people happy. I can see people love laughing. And I think it's just war because our people, they think only about war. How to stop it? I feel so scary. Especially when it's at night when you're sleeping and you just sleep normally and you, you hear this alert, this loud noises, and you can't continue your sleep, your dream, but you just should to go to the basement and sleep there. It feels so, so scary when I hear the alerts I take also my book, my favorite book. And also I take my headphones, headphones, music and books helps me to reduce my stress level. My school is located at city center and that too many schools opposite next to my school. And it's terrifying to study at city center because attacks can be also at our city. We just go to the basement and that's all our backpacks, our jackets, our all our things. We are leaving them at our classes. Of course, I see my future in the Ukraine because I want to rebuild our country and I hope that, um, the future of Ukraine will be so good and fantastic and we will be the most kind country. And I hope that Ukraine will stop the war and we get back our territory. And all of it, uh, would stop. Of course, I love to cry. It's my country, my loved country. I don't want to leave my my Ukraine.

Refugee Stories: Olha

Video length - 06.53
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
21-year old Obaida recounts his journey from war-torn Syria to finding safety and a new life in the UK. Forced to flee at a young age, he navigates the challenges of being a refugee in Jordan before finally resettling in the UK.There, he discovers a peaceful and welcoming society. Now a youth ambassador, Obaida advocates for fellow refugees, challenging stereotypes. and fostering hope.This film captures the resilience of the human spirit and the power of compassion.
This film was produced with the help of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

Refugee Stories: Obaida

Obaida    Hi.

Shazia     Hi. Are you okay?

Obaida    Yeah.

Shazia     How are you feeling about this interview?

Obaida    Um. Confident.

Obaida    My name is Obaida. I'm 21 years old. I'm originally from Syria.

KRAN    And we ask questions. Have you. Do you know a friend as a refugee? Have you met a refugee? Most of them. They haven't. No.

Obaida    I think the media has a huge impact on the people here in the UK. It doesn't actually show. Like, why are these people leaving their country in the first place? Why they are risking their life, like on the boat and like crossing the Sahara desert, like, you know, the Mediterranean Sea. Why? Like they're doing this at the first place. All they show like this many of refugees have arrived. I now work with KRAM as a youth ambassador to raise young people's voice, especially young refugees and asylum seekers. When I arrived in the UK, I was 15 years old. I had like two different childhoods, one in Syria and one in the country I fled to, which is Jordan. I was six and a half, seven years old when the war started in Syria. I saw, like, you know, my neighbor holding a gun and start shooting, and people. First I thought like, that was just like a joke because I had a gun before, but it was like a plastic toy. So I thought that was like a similar thing. I remember like, I was upstairs with my brother and my brother is quite tall, so he was standing in front of the wall looking outside and like, no, there was a bullet. Like it was that that near piercing his head. It was just above his head. And I was like really shocked. And he was really shocked, but he didn't want to show it to me. And after that, and we never went off like on the roof again. My parents didn't allow us to go near the windows as well. Just like to stay safe. And yeah, that that's the most horrific thing I would say happened. My family is Muslim and we lived in a neighborhood where most of them are atheist. They were against us. My dad, he lived in the neighborhood for 20 years.

 

He knew everyone of them like they were friends. But once the war started, they just, like now changed completely. And they said like, no, because we know you for like 20 years. We give you a chance to leave first thing in the morning. My dad said we need to leave. So we called the bus. A small van. Yeah, we just left everything behind and moved on. And we went straight to Jordan. And we started our life from zero again. In many countries, Syrians boys like no one girls do work. And at early ages, when I was in Jordan, I used to work when I was 12, 13 years old to support my family. Studying it was pointless for me because I knew there was no future for me. And in Jordan, I used to work in a supermarket where I just tidied up things and like, you know, sell goods and things. And the funny part was, whenever someone like police comes looking for Syrians, I'll just like, pretend I'm a customer or take something and buy it and go out. It was fun lifestyle, but dangerous because anytime I was age of getting arrested and like, you know, I have to pay a bill, I'm pretty sure my family couldn't have afford that. I stayed in Jordan for seven years. My family were registered in the UNHCR. They called us, said like your family name is on the settlement scheme. Would you like to go to America? And we were thinking, yes, of course, like any place where we have a future at least. After one year, Donald Trump happened, he said like, no, no more refugees anymore in America. So we had to cancel that, not us. Like the UNHCR. We didn't have emails, nor letters and letters would take lots of time. So we were just always looking at our one phone. Probably seven months. They called us again and they said, there's a resettlement scheme happening right now. We put your family name on it. So we chose the UK. My parents weren't happy because of the culture difference. They were thinking about UK is like, you know, it's completely different to Jordan and Syria. Even though like, you know that life is expensive and difficult here, but they still have the culture, the like, you know, the religion. But they understood for us, the children like this is our future. When I was in Jordan, I used to watch hours of movies and especially Harry Potter. And so when I, when I heard the UK and England, I was like thinking, oh like, you know, flying brooms and like, you know, magic wands and that's, that's different life like, you know, there and I'll be a part of it. Uh, but unfortunately, when I arrived to the UK, um, none of that was true.

 

My first impression is like how peaceful the country is. And everyone here is equal. How everyone has here, here has an opportunity to continue the future, to have a better life, a decent life, I would say. That's what every refugee dream of. When. When I arrived, I was thinking probably because my race, my color, which is like completely different to white people, I would find it difficult. If I remember correctly, my first day was going to KRAN, where I studied some English there and elderly man stopped us and said like, where are you from? We were like, we are from Syria. I was really thinking like, you know, something bad will happen. But he said, oh, welcome, and you are here now. You are safe. And I really felt welcomed that day. How can I support this country? Support. Like, you know, the people living in this country. When I was in Jordan, all I thought about is like, you know, having a decent life and never thought of having a luxurious life, having, like, you know, a phone all I wanted, just like, you know, wake up in the morning, have a normal, like, breakfast, go to school, study something I like. When I arrived in the UK, I found all of that when I was in Jordan, I didn't plan anything for my future. But until I arrived to the UK, where I was secured and safe, I start thinking about my future, which is it took me a while to understand how important it is and carrying on with my life. For me, the word refugee means a lot. When I was in Jordan, I was called a refugee. It really annoys me. It's the conception of people have made about refugees. Like refugees are bad. Refugees are like, no, they are taking your job. You know you're the country. But Refugees are just like normal people are looking for shelter for like decent life who couldn't live in their country and they just moved away. And I think this has been in all human nature, like people are just moving around like, you know, for better, better life. If you see someone from a refugee background or if you notice he's he's struggling or she is struggling, just go give him this small motivation like, you know, this small push from you because you don't know what they've been through. But that small smile from your mind, like know, made their day. Who knows? Probably you are the reason. Like they achieve their full potential. So yeah, it's been it's been like in, in the past for me. The UK is my home country now. And to be honest, the home for me is like family and people around me. I would hope when they see things are better in Syria. But now, yeah, I would never go back because I know it will never be the same as before. And here I have found my life and have found my future.

 

Refugee Stories: Obaida

Video length - 08.50
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Randy, a 19-year-old from Managua, Nicaragua, escapes political unrest and finds himself alone and uncertain in the UK. Forced to leave his family, he navigates the complexities of seeking asylum, experiencing fear and hope along the way. Amidst the challenges, Randy discovers a supportive community and a newfound sense of safety. As he adapts to life in Guildford, his dreams of studying physiotherapy in Liverpool take shape, symbolizing his resilience and determination to build a new life far from home.

This film was produced with the help of Big Leaf Foundation.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Randy:    My name is Randy I'm 19 years old and I'm from Nicaragua. I'm from Managua which is the capital of Nicaragua. I lived in a neighborhood with my family, which are my parents and my sister. One of my favorite memories is playing in my hometown with my friends, playing football in the streets, playing hide and seek. Yeah. My childhood was really nice. So when I was 13, I realized that there was a bigger issue in the political side of my country. Basically, I didn't realize that we had a dictatorship in 2006 and I was just living a normal life. But from 2018 and onwards, I just knew how bad the country situation was in terms of political government. It all started with the pension scheme change for the elderly, and then it started with the way that the government was managing the situation with the people protesting. These protests started being done by the university students and they were amazing. I attended many of them. Everything started to change when we realized that the government was putting people in jail, or even murdering people just because of the political situation. Unluckily, me and my family were living in a neighborhood which is mostly associated with this party. There are many people that work in the government and for the government, and that makes us in danger most of the time. I was 17 years old when I left Nicaragua.

 

This decision was made mainly by my parents, and I wasn't happy with the decision, but I knew that it was a thing that I had to do to be safe. I traveled by plane alone from Nicaragua to my next destination. I felt really scared and sad when I left by my own, because I didn't know what to expect of the new place that I was going to live in without my family. I lived in America for around two months with my cousins. We were undocumented. And at that moment my parents were going through a difficult economical situation, so they couldn't afford supporting me in the country. That was the reason why my cousins wanted me to work illegally. Which makes me feel less safe and made my parents should take the decision to send me to the UK. I took a plane from Miami to London, and throughout the journey I felt scared because I was going to claim asylum at the airport, and that made me feel frightened of what was going to happen. I was thinking that I could get rejected, that I could get deported back to Nicaragua or something like that. At the airport. The first thing I said to the officer was that I wanted to claim asylum in the UK. They put me into a room with more people trying to claim asylum. When I was in the room, I was looking at the window and I saw these people just coming into the UK or returning to the UK, feeling happy about it.

 

When I was feeling so scared of what was going to happen to me, and I had the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen. So it was a mix of emotions at that moment. When I arrived to the UK, I was 17 so I was still a child and child services had to take care of me. When a child service officer was driving me to my new location, I felt really relieved because I was more focused on getting to know the place, emersing in a new culture, and realizing the fact that I was in a completely different continent. I was just surprised about the fact that the UK drives in the other side of the road. Also the way that the houses are built with these orange walls and everything. So I really like that. When I was told that I was going to move to Guildford, I didn't know that it was a place. But then when I got there, I like the place because it was a small town, which meant I could walk anywhere. In Guildford I live in a supported accommodation with other young people. I felt comfortable because most of the people were asylum seekers as well, so we were in the same situation and these people were my age or younger or a little older than me, so I was comfortable with them. So after claiming asylum, I had to wait for around nine months and throughout these nine months I only was allowed to study, not to work. Then after nine months, I have my first substantive interview, which is the main interview. When they decide if you reject it or you're accepted in your asylum application. Unfortunately, I was rejected. And that made me feel that everything ended. Fortunately, with the support of a lot of people, I was able to go through the appeal phase, which took around 6 to 7 months for the hearing.

 

In November of 2023, I was granted refugee status by the Home Office, and that made me feel so happy and so relieved about my future. I was lucky because I had access to everything now. I could live like a normal UK resident, I could work, I could have access to student finance because my dream is to go to university here. So I could do that now. Hopefully in September 2024 I will be starting the physiotherapy course at University of Liverpool. I've always wanted to become a physiotherapist, but in Nicaragua I don't think that I would have done it. I don't think that it was going to be the pathway that I was going to choose, mainly because of the lack of opportunities to be a physio in Nicaragua. So if I would have stayed in Nicaragua, it was going to be the dream that I wasn't going to achieve. I miss my country, I miss Nicaragua, I miss my culture, my food, my family, my friends is just what you grew up with. And it's something that stays with you your whole life. My relationship with Big Leaf started one day after I moved to Guilford. I was just walking around Guilford, and then I received a text message from a number. Basically was just saying if I wanted to go to some music lessons and I didn't know how they got my number. But then I realised that my social worker gave them my number. I decided to go to the lessons, and I really liked the lessons, and I really like the way that they were treating me. I volunteer with Big Leaf in the Big Leaf Refugee Week, mainly in the organization of the event. After that, I've been doing some volunteering with them sometimes and some paid work sometimes. All of these experiences that I have with Big Leaf made me feel very proud of myself.

 

All of the achievement that I've done, being a young leader, being a volunteer now, being paid for my work and my contribution to the community, something that makes me feel very proud. I realized that I've been able to achieve things that I didn't know that I was able to. And yet, that just makes me feel happy. Being a refuge to me means being different, having to work hard every day. Giving yourself the permission to feel and knowing that you have the same opportunities as everyone. And you're equal to everyone, regardless of the ethnicity or your nationality. Now I have less worries compared to when I was living in Nicaragua or when I was living in America, because I feel more safe. I feel that my future is going how I want it to be, that I'm in the correct pathway to achieve my dreams. And I feel happy now.

Refugee Stories: Randy

Video length - 09.04
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Rishan, a 26-year-old from Eritrea, fled her homeland to Sudan at the tender age of three with her family to escape the oppressive regime that denied them basic human rights and forced young people into the military. Life in Sudan was tough, Rishan and her family lived under the shadow of fear due to the lack of official documents and she had no access to education. At 16, driven by the need for a better future, she embarked on a perilous journey across the Sahara Desert and Mediterranean Sea, leaving behind everything familiar without even a goodbye to her mother. This courageous leap into the unknown was fuelled by sheer determination and the hope for a life of freedom and opportunities.
This film was produced with the help of Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN).

 

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Rishan: Hi, my name is Rishan. I'm 26 years old and I'm from Eritrea. My family fled Eritrea when I was three years old because it's owned by dictatorship president. You don't get the chance to your human basic rights. Everything is just restricted. Everything you have to go with by the government. You get to a certain point that you have to obviously cut off your education because you're going to be sent to military. Some families, mums, they don't know what their children happened to them, whether they died, whether they're still here, or whether even exists. My mum decided she doesn't want that to happen for me or my other siblings so she fled to Eritrea. I spent my life in Sudan 13 years. I've never been to school. I have my neighbour who is a teacher, who is the one teaching me how to read English and the mass and all of these things. We only had just one room. So that would be with me, with my mum and my siblings together. And it's a small thing, but it's kind of brings lots of memories, beautiful memories. My family didn't had any documentations. My mum always say to me, oh don't go out so much. If you don't have ID, you would be taken by the police force and then you can be sent back to your country. That's what happened to my dad. I never get to know where is he now.

 

I left Sudan when I was 16 years old, and that was the end of 2014. It was just a need for me to leave. There was no option for me to stay in Sudan. So therefore I have to just leave without telling my family or telling my my mum because otherwise she will stop me. It was just all of a sudden happen. And I was the oldest of my siblings. I felt the need for me that to to just move from Sudan. I left with my friends, three of us. It was a small car crossing the Sahara. The adrenaline of like continuously that I have to just keep going, keep going. And I couldn't look back and just decide that I. Oh, I'm not I can't do it. So let's let's go back to Sudan. So it was just, um, it's just there was a moment of continue moving from place to place and thus, um, started from Sudan and I went to Libya and then from Libya to crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Italy, and then from Italy to France, and then from France to Calais, from Calais to the UK. We always like in fear that we have to be like hidden. We have to be covered. They should, if they see a car that come in like crossing the border. So you have to be like always. The like, mind your head. Nothing is gonna gonna happen to you. We been placed in the house that there was no, like, any food or any water. And you don't get to see the sun. You just have to be kept inside with full of so many people there in one room. And you will hear the shooting, because there was always shooting guns there. And you just have to pray that this bullet doesn't come to your head. So many females being raped or being abused by males happening there. I think I was just lucky because I speak the language, so I understand what they saying. I would move from the place if something came across to me. Could be any like dangerous physically. To cross the Mediterranean Sea was in the small boats. Halfway to get to Italy. The boat starts sinking. I remember there's water and everyone trying to get this water outside. I start praying that, um, that something is gonna happen. Like, something is gonna be gonna come and just save us. Luckily, the Italian border came and then they just took us in the big ship. In Calais. I saw people like jumping at the back of the lorry and I tried couple time and I guess because of my size was small it was easy for me to enter inside and from there the lorry goes to the train and then the train obviously arrived to the UK and um, it was a, it was a daytime that when I came to here when the UK police found me. When I arrived here, I was 17 years old, so they decided to put me with a foster family. I was so exhausted. And I just want to, just to sleep. My fosters start to teach me, what's the pound what's the royal family, and all of these things started to know about the country. But it's more like in the back of my head, am I safe, is this really. I can trust those people, even though their approach is welcoming and supporting. Everything is just back. Came back from the beginning.

 

That's the reason I used to stay in my room. Just to kind of get this thing away from my head, but it was never did. So when I left was with other two friends. By the time I crossed the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. I asked about my friend, one of them. He didn't make it because their boat is just sunk in the sea. I felt like, why me and why him? And that's the the, the moment of like reflecting back about the journey. Like why did we already left from the very beginning and why I was lucky to be here and why this is happening to him. The journey was full of danger, full of terrifying moment. The thing that keeps me alive would be like my hope that God is going to be with me. I always say that from Sudan to the UK it was one journey. But living in the UK is my second journey. When I came here, the most shocking things that I felt like really sad and upset to the point that I was just, um, I said, why, why, why is that? All things that I've done it and nothing is going to be sorted out. And I guess not being with my family, it took me more like it kind of shocked me more when I came here. You cannot bring your family. You can't bring your siblings. I spent the time, a long time in my room because like I asked him, why did I left? And nothing is going to be happen with it. But my foster care took me on a positive journey. I would say to think about no Rishan. You can now think about what things you wanted to do in terms of education. How are you going to be supporting them by first supporting yourself? And I always say, I want to go to university. I want to do nursing, which is now what I'm doing. I'm in my final year of nursing. I definitely want to be a nurse to work in the NHS. I would say I like the word refugee. I like people to refer me as refugee. Anyone in their life. We seek refuge in something. Being a refugee and being always heard the word illegal, Illegal. I'm always looked up on a way of on a negative perspective. I'm here to seek safety. Nobody would like to die in a journey. Nobody would like to be separated from their family. The point that is just you don't have an option for plan A or B, you just have to leave. I know KRAN since I came here, I was a service user. Like I was just young person attending classes. There was a role of youth ambassador and that's where I apply for it. I feel like there's a platform for me in KRAN to advocate about this situation. I want to reach more people to talk about our story. This is my situation. This is my story. I'm proud to be like refugee because it's nothing wrong with being a refugee.

Refugee Stories: Rishan

Video length - 6.36
Published date - Jun 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

This clip comes from the BBC series: Pilgrimage – The Road to Istanbul.

Edwina, Amar, and Pauline embark on a solemn visit to the remains of the Crveni Krst concentration camp in Serbia – a memorial to humankind’s continued inhumanity. This site bears witness to the unfathomable cruelty endured by 30,000 individuals of Jewish, Serbian, and Romani descent at the hands of German forces during World War II. They see the bullet holes still in the walls where people were executed, and discover chilling facts about the camp’s history,

Edwina – who is Jewish – reflects on her upbringing in a post-war world marred by profound trauma. Pauline talks about the importance of acknowledging what happened at the concentration camp instead of just moving on.

Edwina concludes with the thought that places like the Crveni Krst camp are a challenge to faith. How could God let it happen?

Watch full episodes on BBC iPlayer.

Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Narrator: Across the city, Edwina has brought Ahmer and Pauline to a monument to more modern conflict, a site that stands as a memorial to man's continued inhumanity. The Seveni Krust concentration camp.

 

Edwina:  Oh, I can see the swastika. Jesus. Excuse me. We are standing in front of one of the smaller barracks. And over the door there is a swastika and Wache. And then. And ss. SS, isn't it? It is. So that's probably been the SS office.

 

Edwina:  Mhm.

 

Edwina:  But it looks like they got us a little gift shop.

 

Narrator: During the Second World War, a total of 30,000 people of Jewish, Romani and Serbian origin were held within this camp by German forces.

 

Amar:     So is this where people were executed? Yes.

 

Pauline:  It's incredibly humbling and devastating. It's extraordinary to see the marks where the bullets hit there that had gone through a person and executed it.

 

Amar:     So you can see bullet marks.

 

Pauline:  Do you want to come down and touch it?

 

Edwina:  Yeah. You go down.

 

Pauline:  Yeah. You you you you stay here. Yeah. I know it's upsetting you. So that's bullet. Bullet holes.

 

Amar:     Oh, wow. In there.

 

Pauline:  Yeah.

 

Amar:     If they can make a hole in the wall.

 

Pauline:  You know.

 

Amar:     Like how big they are.

 

Pauline:  Could you have you.

 

Edwina:  The world in which I grew up was one that was badly traumatized by the Second World War. Wherever you looked, there were bomb sites and three legged dogs. But also the Jewish community, of course, had lost so many people. Lots of things people didn't talk about. Lots of pain. It wasn't until much later that we realized what they had all been through.

 

Narrator: In 1942. 105 prisoners escaped from this camp. The first time an escape had been successful in mainland Europe. The response from the German army was brutal.

 

Pauline:  The Nazis implemented a policy of killing 100 Serbian hostages for every German soldier killed, and killing 50 for every soldier wounded in Serbia. They executed over 10,000 people on nearby Banja hill.

 

Amar:     Can you see people's pictures here?

 

Pauline:  Oh, yes.

 

Edwina:  Yes. Let me describe. There's an old man in a fez with a bristling moustache. Maybe he's an old soldier. There's a handsome man in a smart suit and a moustache. What's striking is the different ages of people. And young.

 

Pauline:  Old people.

 

Amar:     Wow.

 

Edwina:  When the 10,000 were shot, they were shot very publicly because that was a warning. You try this again. This is what will happen. Not just that you'll die, but you will cause the death of others. What was it? A hundred times as many.

 

Pauline:  Yeah, yeah. We're going to visit lots of places of worship on this pilgrimage, but it seems to me that places like this concentration camp should also be mandatory for anyone who is is making that kind of journey. Because this too is testament to what we must also acknowledge. It's not always just let's say hallelujah and move on. You got to mark it.

 

Edwina:  A place like this is a challenge to faith because if God exists and God is good, how could God let something like this happen? That's not the way I see it. So the way I see it is that we all have to take responsibility for our actions. There was a lot of bravery here, a lot of courage here. But in the end, it's a place of brutality and destruction. It's very, very sad. Do you know what? If I'd been in charge, I'd have burned the whole place to the ground. And I would have built a garden.

 

Pilgrimage Moments: The Bullet Holes

Video length - 05.06
Published date - Mar 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS2)

Video length - 08.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 2
Downloadable resources

The film follows Seren, a mixed-heritage British girl, as she discovers what being British means to her, and how the service contributions of Black, African, and Caribbean men and women are recognised in today’s multi-cultural society.

Seren meets with a group of young Black and British persons each with different heritages – Ghanian, Jamaican, Barbadian, Nigerian, Zimbabwean – to discuss whether Black people and those from the Commonwealth feel included in Remembrance Sunday, when we honour the service and sacrifice of persons past and present. They discuss their feelings before watching an interview with a Captain born in London with Ugandan and Rwandan heritage, discussing his identity and service. 

A film by Alastair Collinson.

The Royal British Legion: Black and British; Sacrifice and Service (KS3)

Video length - 09.49
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 3
Downloadable resources

Doreen’s War: Keep Smiling Through – Doreen was only 8 years old when World War 2 began. While many children were evacuated from London’s east end, Doreen stayed with her family in Plaistow and was homeschooled – even during the deadly Blitz between 1940 and 1941. Her best friend Marjorie had been evacuated to a different part of the country, but their relationship stayed strong and they’re still friends 75 years later.

Just before VE Day in 2020, this interview with Doreen recounting her memories of WW2 was recorded during lockdown conditions due to the coronavirus. Doreen compares how the nation felt then to how it feels during the pandemic.

This film includes an accompanying worksheet that can be used by pupils.

Doreen’s War: Keep Smiling Through

Video length - 04.32
Published date - May 2020
Keystage(s) - 2 and 3
Downloadable resources

Extremists – A back street brawl between two young men with extreme and opposing views – men who would never take the time to talk, to listen, to understand each other. And yet… a conversation begins. This provocative film reveals some challenging truths about prejudice, extremism and radicalisation, and shows that the best way to understand these problems is to talk.

The attached lesson materials featuring this film have been awarded the PSHE Association‘s Quality Mark.

CREDITS

TrueTube films are designed for use in a number of ways. Some ideas of where this film could link to your curriculum are below:

AQA                                                                                                                                                                                    Component 2 - Religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world Theme D - Religion, peace and conflict - Terrorism -Religious understanding of and attitudes to terrorism Component 2 - Religious, philosophical and ethical studies in the modern world: Theme F – Religion, human rights and social justice - Human Rights - Issues of equality, freedom of religion and belief including freedom of religious expression.

Edexcel                                                                                                                                                                             Section 4: Peace and Conflict -Section 4: Peace and Conflict - Issues surrounding conflict:divergent Muslim teachings and responses to the nature of problems involved in conflict – violence, war, and terrorism; how Muslims have worked to overcome these issues, including Malik's Muwatta 21. 3. 10; non-religious (including atheist and Humanist) views towards the issues surrounding conflict and Muslim responses to them. Area of Study 3 – Islam - Section 4: Equality - Muslim teaching on human rights: Muslim teachings and responses to the nature and purpose of human rights; why Muslims might support human rights as important, including Surah 5: 8; divergent Muslim responses to the need for and application of individual human rights, including the support offered by situation ethics; the problems human rights might cause for Muslims; Muslim responses to non-religious (including atheist and Humanist) arguments about human rights. 

OCR                                                                                                                                                                 Religion,philosophy and ethics in the modern world from a religious perspective - Religion, peace and conflict -Violence and conflict- Key philosophical and ethical concepts: • Forms of violence • War •Justificationof violence • Just War theory - The relationship between religion,politics and terrorism in the 21st century •Different religious attitudes towards terrorism and the causes of terrorism.

WJEC                                                                                                                                                                                    PART B - Theme 2: Issues of Good and Evil - Forgiveness  Peace and conflict: Just War Theory/Lesser Jihad, Pacifism and Conscientious Objectors  Islamic teachings about forgiveness: Qur'an 64:14, 42:30  Examples of forgiveness arising from personal beliefs Good, Evil and Suffering  Philosophical perspectives on the origin of evil: The Devil tests humans: Qur'an 2:34, 155  The belief in pre-destination (al Qadr)

EDUQAS                                                                                                                                                                          Component 1 (Route A) Religious, Philosophical and Ethical Studies in the Modern World - Theme 4: Issues of Human Rights - Human Rights and Social Justice ➢ Islamic beliefs, teachings and attitudes toward the dignity of human life: Qur'an 5:32 ➢ Islamic practices to promote human rights including equality: ummah in action ➢ An example of conflict between personal conviction and the laws of a country ➢ Censorship, freedom of religious expression and religious extremism (including Islamphobia) Prejudice and discrimination ➢ Islamic beliefs, teachings and attitudes towards prejudice and discrimination: Qur'an 5:8, 49:13 ➢ Islamic beliefs, teachings and attitudes towards racial prejudice and discrimination, including the actions of the Christian/Muslim Forum 

 

Extremists

Man 1      You bloody terrorist!

Man 2      What?

Man 1      You're a bloody terrorist.

Man 2      I'm not.

Man 1      What?

Man 2      I'm not a terrorist. I'm an extremist.

Man 1      Exactly.

Man 2      They're two different things.

Man 1      What?

Man 2      Terrorist and extremist. They don't mean the same thing.

Man 1      They do.

Man 2      They don't. Not all extremists are violent.

Man 1      Well, most of them are.

Man 2      Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Jesus.

Man 1      I was talking about Muslim extremists. You're all Islamists.

Man 2      Do you even know what an Islamist is?

Man 1      Yeah. All right. What's an Islamist?

Man 2      Someone who believes the world should be controlled by Islam. The government, law, society.

Man 1      Well, then.

Man 2      Do you know what Islam means?

Man 1      What, you mean-

Man 2      The word Islam.

Man 1      No.

Man 2      Submission or peace.

Man 1      Submission or peace?

Man 2      Yeah.

Man 1      How can it mean submission or peace?

Man 2      Because to me, submission is peace. I submit myself to the will of God and it brings me peace.

Man 1      But you want more?

Man 2      No, no, no, no, I want everyone in this country, everyone in this world, to submit themselves to the will of Allah Sharia Law.

Man 1      Exactly.

Man 2      Yeah, because then we'll all live in peace and harmony. That's what makes me an extremist. It doesn't mean I want to go around blowing people up. It just means I'm standing up for something. But you-

Man 1      Right, I'll stand up against people like you, trying to ruin this country.

Man 2      And how am I?

Man 1      We used to be the greatest country in the world until people like you started coming here.

Man 2      What do you mean? Brown people like me?

Man 1      Too right. You're all bloody the same, you want free schools and hospitals when you don't even belong here, you don't even try to fit in.

Man 2      And what gives you the right to decide who belongs?

Man 1      Because I was born here, British born and bred.

Man 2      I was born here too.

Man 1      Yes, but you're not English, though, are you? Where are your parents born?

Man 2      Pakistan.

Man 1      Exactly.

Man 2      But I was born here. You can't choose your parents and where you're born.

Man 1      All right, I'll give you that. But-

Man 2      Where was your parents born?

Man 1      Slough.

Man 2      What about your grandparents?

Man 1      England.

Man 2      Yeah, all of them? Do you know, as a white British man, you share a third of your DNA with the Germans? Nearly half with the French. So how does that make you feel? You racist.

Man 1      I'm not racist. I just hate Muslims. You just said it for yourself. You want to take over the bloody world. You're a bunch of medieval barbarians.

Man 2      Man, where'd you get this stuff?

Man 1      9/11, 7/7, ISIS, Al-Qaeda.

Man 2      Do you know, there's over 1.5 billion of us. We're not all the same. We're not all terrorists. We're not even all extremists. Most Muslims just want to live a quiet life.

Man 1      I've read about what you lot want.

Man 2      Where?

Man 1      Newspapers. What? It's the news. They have to check their facts.

Man 2      What you don't think they're going to choose to report some facts and not others?

Man 1      Yeah, they'll report the important ones.

Man 2      Newspapers want drama, blood, death, bad guy. They're never going to report 'Yesterday, millions of Muslims all over the world were living their lives in peace and harmony'. Real world Muslims aren't such a threat to you.

Man 1      Yeah, but you stand out like it's deliberate. I don't see why you can't just be like us.

Man 2      Because I'm a fundamentalist.

Man 2      That means I live my life strictly by the teaching of my religion, the Qur'an and the saying the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, peace be upon him.

Man 1      Why would you choose to live like that?

Man 2      I didn't choose, I was born a muslim.

Man 1      You can't be born a religion.

Man 2      Religion feels good. I look at myself in the mirror and I know who I am.

Man 1      Right. So you want to turn us all into Muslims because it makes you feel good?

Man 2      Yeah, okay, I do.

Man 1      Right, do you know how scary that is? You can't just come here and tell us to speak Arabic, cover up our women and chop off the hands of our criminals and not eat bacon. We're British. It's not the way we do things here. So of course we're going to fight back.

Man 2      So you're allowed to fight back, but we're not?

Man 1      What do you have to fight back against?

Man 2      It's not the British being attacked. I've been really attacked by soldiers, tanks, drones. My people are being oppressed. Of course I want to fight for them.

Man 1      But you said Islam means peace. Doesn't it say in your Qur'an that killing people is wrong?

Man 2      Except in a just cause, and this is a just cause. This is a just war. When America wants to wipe out the Muslim people.

Man 1      Where'd you get that from?

Man 2      What?

Man 1      America wants to wipe out Muslim people. Come on.

Man 2      The internet. What?

Man 1      There are 300 million people in America. They're not all the same either. Some of them are Muslims.

Man 2      Well, fine. But Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Syria, Guantanamo. Look, there's a war to be fought, man.

Man 1      But you're not a soldier.

Man 2      I could be.

Man 1      What, so you want to go die in a desert?

Man 2      Yeah, maybe I do.

Man 1      Why?

Man 2      Because, because I want to feel a part of it. Yeah, danger and glory and brotherhood. It's exciting, okay yeah. Is it, is it so bad? And I, and I hate this country. I mean, how would you feel if-

Man 1      What?

Man 2      If you, if you grew up learning alcohol is wrong? Homosexuality is wrong. Women showing their bodies is wrong. Sex before marriage is wrong. Think how I feel when I walk the streets and I see women in their tiny skirts, tight tops and the sex on TV and movies and music videos, adverts.

Man 1      Jealous.

Man 2      Angry and disgusted and frightened. And, yeah, jealous, because I can't help seeing this.

Man 1      If you don't like it, go back to Pakistan.

Man 2      How did you get like this?

Man 1      Like what?

Man 2      How did you get so radicalised?

Man 1      Hey, I'm not radicalised.

Man 2      Yes, you are.

Man 1      You're the one who's radicalised.

Man 2      Of course I am, because I'm angry. I want the world to be somewhere I can feel safe. I want someone to blame for the things that scare me, and yeah I've met people who felt the same way, and it was like waking up. They understood me and it felt good. And bit by bit we made each other angrier. So yeah, we radicalised ourselves because we wanted to outdo each other, and you're the same

Man 1      I'm bloody not.

Man 2      You're an extremist, you're a racist. How did you get to be like this?

Man 1      Because-

Man 2      Why do you hate me so much?

Man 1      Because the world's a mess. I mean we can't trust the media or the banks. And there weren't any jobs. Dad never had a job, so there wasn't anything for us to do except, you know, watch telly, go online and see these adverts which tell you life's about having money, cars, phones and watches, and we couldn't have any of that. So you look around for something else to make you feel like you're a part of something, a football team, a band, a gang. And then you get older and you still don't have the money or the job or the stuff you're supposed to have, so you start to feel like cut off. Like, you got no, no reason, no purpose, and you look around for for someone to blame, anyone. It could be bankers, immigrants, paedos, and then you hear about these Muslim terrorists waging a war against your way of life, but you don't know any terrorists, but you know, some Muslims and bam! You found a purpose, an enemy, and you do something about it because it gives you a reason to exist, and that's what we all need. We need to feel like we know who we are.

Man 2      No society is perfect in this life.

Man 1      So why don't you think for yourself then?

Man 2      Why don't you?

Man 1      I do.

Man 2      Do you?

Man 1      Well, do you?

Man 2      All right. Maybe I don't always think for myself.

Man 1      Well, maybe I don't either.

Man 2      I still believe Sharia law is the right way to live.

Man 1      I still think the British way of life is disappearing because of people like you.

Man 2      So, what do we do?

Man 1      Well, I guess we keep on talking.

Man 2      All right. I've got to go.

Man 1      Me, too.

Man 2      My daughter.

Man 1      Got a daughter?

Man 2      Yeah.

Man 1      How old?

Man 2      Three.

Man 1      Mines five. You getting the bus?

Man 2      Yeah. 58.

Man 1      That's mine too.

Man 2      Alright.

Extremists

Video length - 09.03
Published date - Jul 2015
Keystage(s) - 4
Downloadable resources