February 8, 2019
Over the past few years we have been asking what more we can do to ensure that people with lived experience of displacement are at the heart and forefront of Refugee Week, the national festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees that is coordinated by us at Counterpoints Arts.
In October 2018 we were thrilled to receive funding from Ben and Jerry’s Foundation for a new Refugee Week Leadership Project, which will support five emerging leaders from refugee backgrounds to contribute to Refugee Week at the national level.
We hope this pilot project will be a first step to ensuring that ‘refugee leadership’ is embedded in Refugee Week at the national level, into the long term – and that it will result in useful learning for others interested in representation in arts, culture and activism.
Between now and the end of Refugee Week (17-23 June 2019), the cohort of five will take leading roles at the upcoming Refugee Week Conferences, contribute to national strategy discussions and benefit from training, mentoring and internships at organisations including the Shakespeare’s Globe, Migration Museum, Freedom From Torture and Salusbury World.
After a deeply inspiring and painfully difficult selection process (we received 116 applications from right across the UK), we’re delighted to introduce you to the five successful applicants.
Meet Abdulrahman, Salani, Daniela, Natasha and Sabrina – and watch this space…
Abdulrahman Abu-Zayd is a filmmaker, producer, playwright, actor and storyteller from Newcastle Upon Tyne. He was born and raised in Sudan. In Sudan he worked as stand-up comedian and storyteller which helped him to have an impact on many people’s lives, economically, socially and politically. This philosophy informs the work that he is currently doing in a community contexts. He has worked with many community groups across the UK and internationally, particularly with people from asylum seeker backgrounds. The main thrust of his work has always been about integration, acceptance and challenging prevailing orthodoxies. Abu-Zayd has been nominated and won a number awards for his work including a SUPA (Sunderland Professional Award) in 2014 and a RTS nomination in 2011. He also won a monologue competition in 2016.
Salani Sally Mutseyami
Salani Sally Mutseyami is a Zimbabwe Human Rights campaigner based in Nottingham, UK. In the years that she has campaigned for change in Zimbabwe, Salani has had experience in co-ordinating numerous campaigns. Her campaigns have centred on her ability to speak up for the voiceless, championing and advocating for the plight of refugees and asylum seekers who have sought refuge in the UK. Having experienced displacement herself she volunteers for Nottingham Refugee Week committee as chair. Her overarching responsibility as chair has been to provide sound leadership and continue the yearly tradition of planning successful Refugee Week festivals in Nottingham. Through the Refugee Week Leadership project Salani hopes to showcase the vital and positive contributions that refugees and asylum seekers provide in their communities. Salani’s future goal is to one day work hand in hand with International organisations such as the United Nations, to support more programs which help refugees and asylum seekers.
Daniela grew up in Damascus, Syria, and moved to live in London in 2011. Parallel to working full-time, Daniela has been volunteering with a number of not-for-profit organisations working with youth, migrants and asylum seekers, including United World Colleges’ Syrian National Committee, and more recently with MASS Action. She has also led and supported the delivery of a number of storytelling projects, as part of her work with the London Regional Centre of Expertise and Qisetna, with an aim of celebrating human resilience and challenging public attitudes towards migration. She hopes to bridge her interest in the themes of identity, language, belonging and human resilience with her passion for culture and the arts to deliver creative participatory sessions that bring people with different backgrounds together, to reflect on personal experiences, engage in conversation and find connection with others.
Natasha Nzazi works at Freedom from Torture as the Service User and Survivor Speak OUT (SSO) administrator. She is also an active member of SSO. In addition to her administrative skills, she has experience in advocacy and in working with children in school settings. She has a first degree in psychology. She possesses good listening and speaking skills and can communicate effectively with a wide range of individuals. Natasha’s goals include achieving a better provision of services for the rehabilitation of torture survivors and educational support for children and young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds in the UK and worldwide. She also advocates for a world free of torture.
Sabrina Richmond is a performer and writer with a postgraduate degree in Media Theory & Practice & undergraduate in journalism with years of experience in various sectors. Born of three generations of migratory people, her family raised her in exile from South Africa’s apartheid regime, her earliest theatre experience was a verbatim theatre piece about The Struggle using gumboot dancing. She has performed in theatres across London. Her play An African in the snow – a migratory experience of loving & living in the cracks of identity across 5 countries has an upcoming short residency at The Pleasance theatre’s LABS programme. At her artistic core continues to search for ways to answer what is home? especially when faced with the anonymous brutal machine that is the immigration system in often hostile environments.