Special event shares stories of refugee life
Genesis was very proud to sponsor a special
event at London's Conway Hall called 'Shelter from the Storm:
Stories of Refugee Life' on Tuesday 21 March.The event brought
together those affected by displacement, homelessness and conflict,
to share their stories of loss, survival and rebirth.
Over 200 people attended to hear poetry and
commentary from celebrated writers, performers and activists, all
united in their passion to give a deeper insight into refugee life.
All proceeds from the event went to Refugee Action and
other refugee charities.
What was an emotive evening in many ways was
compered by comedian Jeremy Hardy. He said that refugees
displayed remarkable qualities of survival, entrepreneurial
mindsets and the ability to hit the ground running.
The first performance of the evening came from
poet JJ Bola, a former refugee himself, reciting his work ‘Refuge’.
His poem recalled his story of fleeing his native
country with his family, expressing at the end that refugees were
“all reaching for a place that they can call home”.
Booker-nominated novelist Linda Grant read an
excerpt from her novel ‘The Clothes on their Backs’, set in
1950s London and written from the perspective of a daughter of
Jewish-Hungarian immigrants. The excerpt vividly described the
struggle of her parents to keep themselves safe.
Intermingled with accounts that described the
challenges faced by refugees, there was a success story from Izzat
Shamroukh, a former Palestinian refugee who’d been given the
opportunity to further his secondary school education in England,
and later attend university.
Later in the evening the audience heard from
Ugandan gay activist Aloysius Ssali, founder of the Say it Loud
Community. He shared how he sought asylum in the UK after
facing persecution in his own country.
Amidst the familiar faces of celebrities was
Stephen Mangan, who read a story written by the late British
journalist A A Gill, about his journey to the Italian island of
Lampedusa to report on the tragedy of 300 African refugees drowning
in the Mediterranean.
What was an enlightening evening of mixed
emotions came to end with a speech from Genesis Executive Director
of Assets and Investments Jeremy Stibbe, who commended the event
for “raising the profile of outsiders, so that we can work with
people on the inside”. Jeremy expressed Genesis’ support of
vulnerable people and shared something that resonated with values
that sit at the heart of Genesis: “We believe in opportunity and
opportunity starts with a decent home.”