MURAL BY SEPARATED YOUNG PEOPLE IN THE CHILDREN'S SECTION AT THE REFUGEE COUNCIL
(photo by Caroline Thomas)
Kamron Foladi, aged 18, from Afghanistan
"THE SUN HAS GONE DOWN"
Kamron's survival is as remarkable as his experience tragic. The account of his journey highlights many of the issues around the age assessment of children who are seeking asylum in the UK. Although he was only a child, the authorities treated Kamron as an adult, detained him for long periods and very nearly deported him, before they finally recognised him as a minor.
Kamron is a regular at BHUMP (Befriending Hillingdon Unaccompanied Minors Project) and recounts what it means to him. It was through a BHUMP workshop that he came to tell his story, which was translated by an interpreter from the Community Advocates' Network, based at REAP (Refugees in Effective and Active Partnership).
Project Manager Freda Ritchie explains: "At BHUMP we use many media to enable the young people to develop their own personal identity, sense of belonging and self worth. Arguably one of the finest media for this purpose is the written word. We also encourage young people to write about their own personal experiences as a form of therapy and release."
Adam Teneh, aged 19, from Darfur
"THEY DON'T TELL YOU. THEY DON'T BELIEVE YOU."
Adam was 16 when he arrived in the UK in 2006. Now studying at West Thames College, he has been elected to the student union. In September 2007, he met with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as part of an international campaign to raise awareness of the current political crisis in Darfur, and addressed supporters in Trafalgar Square. In August 2008, Adam spoke about his experiences of fleeing Darfur and arriving in the UK in a session entitled "Fleeing conflict: life with no family" at the Jewish arts and family education camp Limmudfest.
'WRITTEN ALL OVER OUR HISTORY'
These five young people are—or were—separated children. While some are now classified as adults—and therefore no longer separated children—none has been reunited with their family and all remain separated.
They spoke of their experiences on 17 December 2006, during a day conference on the subject of refugees, in memory of Ester Gluck. It was entitled 'Written All Over Our History', a phrase she coined for the responsibility we have to reflect on experience, to empathise and to act.
Pierre, aged 15, from the Democratic Republic of Congo
"SO THAT THEY CAN'T RECOGNISE ME"
William, aged 15, from Cameroon
"MY DAY AT THE HOME OFFICE"
Thomas, aged 17, from Kenya
"ALL OF A SUDDEN—THEY SWITCH!"
Aisha, aged 18, from Uganda
"HOW OLD DO YOU THINK I AM?"
Stephen, aged 19, from Cameroon
"I WOULD LIKE MY VOICE TO BE THE VOICE OF THOSE WITHOUT VOICE"
Sound Mix is a music-making project that involves separated children supported by The Refugee Council, in Brixton (south London). The young people, with varied national origins, learn instrumental and vocal techniques, and have experience of composition, production and performance. For many of them, it is a valuable opportunity to reclaim their musical heritage and to be exposed to a range of other musical forms. Here you can view the Sound Mix Project photo gallery and listen to a sample of its recordings.
The International Criminal Court is accepting children's drawings as supporting evidence of the alleged crimes committed in Darfur. A selection of the drawings can be seen here.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park has showcased photographs by 15 young asylum seekers, aged 14 to 18, and displayed them alongside texts and films. The separated young people, who originated in Kurdistan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Senegal and Zambia, are now living in Wakefield, Barnsley and Kirklees. The Shared Horizon photography project was supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which encourages young asylum seekers, refugees and migrants to participate in creative activities.
Shared Futures is a DVD and education resource pack developed by the charity Salusbury World that gives a central voice to young refugees in Britain.
The Refugee Council, Brixton (South London), has engaged young refugees in projects to develop their photographic skills through workshops and trips. The young refugee photographers have exhibited two slide shows, with their own voice over: Exploring London's South Bank and On the Farm. These are two of the results of 'Photome' trips.
The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund is also committed to "giving child refugees a voice". The beginning of its collection of verbal and photographic testimonies can be seen here.
'PhotoVoice' encourages the use of documentary photography by "enabling those that have traditionally been the subject of such work to become its creator and so to have control over how they are perceived by the rest of the world, while simultaneously learning a new skill which can enhance their lives". Several of its projects involve separated children and young people in Britain. You can read about the UK and Ireland projects, and view the photo galleries, here. Those involving separated children and young people are: Transparency; Refugees Aloud; Moving Lives; and New Londoners.
Dubbed as 'life through a lens', the New Londoners book features photos taken by 15 young people who are seeking asylum in Britain. Three of them spoke about their photos and the aspects of their lives that they captured on BBC Radio 4. Their comments run as voice over to a slide show here.
'Refugee Stories' is a collection of oral testimonies, produced by the Refugee Communities History Project. A few of them sought asylum in the UK as children or young people but the majority were already adults at the time. Their stories can be heard, with transcripts and the photos of the speakers, here.