By Eithne Nightingale.
The website www.childmigrantstories.com explores the lives of 35 children who have migrated to East London under the age of 18 from 1930 to the present day. Four short films based on these stories are accessible on the website, on YouTube and have been screened alongside talks and performances by former child migrants in cinemas, museums, universities, schools and community centres. The website, films and related events have been funded by Queen Mary University of London Centre for Public Engagement. The project has recently been awarded the Interact QMUL Public Engagement Award 2017.
The four films are:
Child Migrant Stories – the experiences of coming to and settling in East London 1930 to the present day
Passing Tides about Linh Vu’s escape by boat from Vietnam with her father leaving mother and siblings behind
Ugwumpiti about how Maurice Nwokeji survived famine and bombs during the war in Biafra, Nigeria
Life is a Destiny about how Argun Imamzade protected his family photo album when his house in Cyprus was under fire
The responses to the films from children as young as 6 and adults have been overwhelming:
“Children have been able to compare the stories on the screen to their own family’s journey, and have been so excited to see places that they recognise on the big screen.” (Child Migrant Stories at Hackney Museum)
“The film was brilliant – the story so cleverly told and illustrated with very evocative art and photographs.” (Passing Tides)
“I cried and laughed at Maurice’s stories. It’s fantastic!” (Ugwumpiti)
“Then is now. Does our society really care?” (Ugwumpiti)
“Argun’s story is humorous as well as moving and I really thought the photo album was powerful.” (Life is a Destiny)
Everyone is welcome to download films and organize their own screenings but do let us know what has been the response on firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively contact us if you would like to organise a discussion, alongside the screening/s, with people featured in the films or music performances by Maurice Nwokeji, possibly with this band One Jah, of the music inspired by his childhood in Biafra. We have some limited funds to support such discussions under a new initiative Child Migrants Welcome? but would welcome contributions towards this. If you would like to see how the films can be used alongside discussion and performance and to stimulate debate do come along to Seeking Sanctuary: Refugees and Migrants Welcome at QMUL on Thursday February 23rd 6 – 8.30pm at QMUL.
Child Migrants Welcome? aims to explore positive and negative experiences of newly arrived children, the importance of friendship, respect for difference and child attitudes to migration through film, multimedia installations, public programmes and learning materials. The project is funded by the Humanities and Social Sciences Collaboration Fund at Queen Mary, University of London.
We are looking for participants who have migrated under 18 to the UK and are happy to share positive and negative experiences of welcome. We are also for looking for people who have welcomed, or cared for, child refugees and migrants in a formal or informal capacity – as friends, neighbours, carers, teachers, dinner ladies, shop keepers, therapists, lawyers, community activists etc. We will interview some people but also welcome other formats – Skype, phone calls, writing, art, music etc.
Do email email@example.com or ring Eithne Nightingale on 07949 080 526 if you or others you know are happy to participate.