Empowering Women: A Unique Exhibition of Refugee Women

Go and see this amazing exhibition by non-professional women who came together to express themselves through painting.

No automatic alt text available.Empowering the women” is a collection of artwork from women who are members of Migrants Supporting Migrants, an organisation working to advance the well-being and rights of migrants. The women of MSM, students, volunteers, teachers, and staff have come together to create artwork in workshops for the last month, which will be on show in Room 22, Methodist Hall, Manchester City Centre. 

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This collection embodies Ruba Mourad’s statement that there is a ‘hope to overcome the cycle of abuse, to emerge free and strong from the darkness’.

OPENING EVENT is at 12pm on Wednesday 8th March 2017.
The exhibition is open on Thursday and Friday, 10am till 5pm.

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Holocaust Memorial Day at Huddersfield University

Procession of ‘The Weeping Sisters’ through Huddersfield

Last month, I had the chance to read my poems at the Holocaust memorial day at Huddersfield University.  The memorial is not just a simple act of remembrance. It is a great event of growing relevance: personal testimonies of past atrocities and present-day persecutions were at the heart of 2017’s Holocaust Memorial Day.

6 Million Charity Trust:

The event organised in conjunction with the 6 million+ Charitable Trust. It was titled They could not erase us, and it drew its inspiration from the experiences of three women who have survived attempted genocide. Iby in Czechoslovakia and Hungary under the Nazis, plus the more recent experiences of Jasminka in Bosnia with its “ethnic cleansing”, and Fatima in Iraq, where former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein persecuted the Kurds.

Iby Knill, the Holocaust survivor, concluded the event with a reading of her harrowing Holocaust poem I Was There.  Listen to her beautiful poems here.

Julia her granddaughter, gave a lovely speech. She told us how being the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor had affected her life and beliefs. ”We all have a responsibility to protect life .both our own lives and the lives of others. The differences between us are what make us so special.  If we forget that difference is okay, that we are allowed to disagree with each other, then we forget what it is to be human.”


Updates on Dianne Case

From Jam’na Keats facebook page:


According to Lucy Powell, Dianne has had her deportation deferred whilst her right of appeal is assessed. If true, this is PHENOMENAL but nowhere near the end!

Dianne will still be detained in Yarl’s Wood whilst her case is reviewed. We NEED to keep up the pressure!

Dianne should have been on a plane to Zambia via Kenya 1 hour ago.

From what we know that flight has left, WITHOUT Dianne!

Think about that..

WE, collectively, through ALL OUR EFFORTS, stopped THE STATE deporting a human being today. It started with 30 people outside a detention centre in Salford and has escalated to thousands upon thousands of people, from all walks of life, demanding Dianne Must Not be Detained or Deported!.

She is still detained, but she isn’t gone. She is still in the UK. Despite the wishes of the Home Office.

This is how democratic power works. Not abstract righteousness but localised pressure. Human and immediate.

This is as huge momentary success. But it isn’t a total victory.


We can do this!

The case of Dianne Ngoza


There is a campaign going on in Manchester for Dianne Ngoza, a woman from Congo who is in  danger of being  deported.

I met Dianne last year at Methodist church in Manchester. I was volunteered to work with MSM ( Migrants Supporting Migrants) in a project called ” Migrant Echoes” which was a Media project aimed to strengthen  migrants and ethnic groups. Dianne was one our interviewees.

Dianne has come to England more than 15 years ago on a visa and tried to renew it but  complications encountered in the process and she tried to apply for leave to remain. All her attempt failed and she is now taken to Yarl’s wood to be deported to her home country. I have visited Yarl’s Wood last year and wrote about it on this blog.  It is a terrible place. Detainees do not enjoy fresh air and they have to eat potato everyday.  Yarl’s wood is not providing with adequate food for Dianne’s vegan diet.

On November 16 when Dianne went to Dallas Court to report (there is an obligation for all migrants who do not have status to report weekly, or monthly) she was taken inside by home office officers. They attempt to take her out in a van but people blocked the road, so they turned back. People stood in the rain the whole day so that home office had to negotiate and promise they will take her to Pennine House at Manchester Airport,  they never did. She’s been given removal orders for Wednesday.

Dianne is not a criminal and she does not have to be kept in a horrible place like Yarl’s Wood. I call it refugees Guantanamo.

Please listen to her story and spread the news. We as human beings have a duty to support her and fight for freedom of refugee prisoners.

Follow news here; http://www.rapar.org.uk/dianne-ngoza.html

Listen to the interview here



No Refugee in Calais



It has been long time since I updated this blog due to my university assignments  ( I am doing creative writing /MA). However, I have been reading news everyday and there is a lot to talk about. Most importantly, is the Calais refugee camp in france which has  been shut down and hundreds of refugees  were taken  on buses for accommodation centres elsewhere in France and a few of them were brought to the UK.

I was very keen on doing a project about Calais refugees last year, but I was unable to secure financial sources for it and the project remained on paper. I was going to write their stories and record them to be used as fictitious monologues on stage here in the UK.

In videos I watched on the news websites, people were upset because they felt like they were being removed from their home. According to an estimation by aid organisations, the number of people in the camp had reached an all-time high of almost 10,000.

Ten thousands people in cold winter and hot summer lived in tents, with no electricity and drinking water. It sounds almost like living in the war zones.

I hope French new policy allows Jungle refugees to live a decent life in france.



Iranian refugee wins cartooning award

Have you heard the story of a detainee in Papua New Guinea who has won cartooning award?
Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea Manus Island detention centre, and whose pen name is Eaten Fish, drew cartoons to depict life inside the camp. Ali struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and debilitating panic attacks and he has been held there for 3 years now.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.     Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

According to Reuters;

”Under Australia’s hardline immigration policy, anyone intercepted trying to reach the country by boat is sent for processing to camps on Manus or Nauru in the South Pacific. They are not eligible to be resettled in Australia.

A cartoon by Ali, an Iranian refugee held at Papua New Guinea's Manus Island detention centre whose pen name is Eaten Fish, is seen in this image supplied to Reuters on August 27, 2016.   Eaten Fish/Handout via REUTERS

Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) said Ali was recognized for his courage in documenting life under Australia’s offshore detention program – which drew thousands of protesters onto streets across the country on Saturday calling for its closure.

“Eaten Fish has been able to keep up a stream of cartoons documenting the unspeakable abuses and excesses of the guards and administrators of the camp,” Joel Pett, president of CRNI’s board of directors, said in a statement on Friday.

“For this he has been the subject of beatings, deprivation of food, and even worse degrading treatment by the guards.”

Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection denied the claims made by CRNI and defended the care provided at the facility.

“The department currently has no evidence that any of these allegations are true,” a spokesman said in an email to Reuters.

Australia and Papua New Guinea said earlier this month the Manus center would be shut but they gave no date for the closure, leaving the fate of about 800 refugees unclear.”

(Reporting by Harry Pearl; Editing by Stephen Coates)

Guardian reports on asylum houses in London

Watch the video here

I have been to this house a few times to visit a friend of mine who is an asylum seeker and lives in a single room with her daughter. The little girl, age 5,  is suffering from Arthritis and she is going to school this year. When I went there I was shocked to see al the children living in such condition. One of them was autistic and lived in a little room with his mother. There was hardly one meter room for them to play, no garden , no toys.

According to Guardian,  dozens of vulnerable asylum seeker women and children are living in filthy, overcrowded and dangerous conditions in Home Office accommodation in west London. The owner of the property lives next door in very different conditions. Hounslow council is now carrying out an official inspection after the Guardian raised concern.


Ruth’s story: One child refugee’s journey from Eritrea to England by BBC


Ruth is helping her mum on the family farm
Ruth is helping her mum on the family farm

According to BBC three-thousand children arrived in the UK alone last year. Many of them are migrants or refugees escaping war or devastation in their home countries. They’ve travelled thousands of miles across deserts, mountains and seas. When they get to the UK they are often tired and afraid. They are taken by immigration officers or police to a safe place where they are asked lots of questions.

This is so that the people in charge can understand how old the child is, where they have come from and what they will need to keep them healthy and safe. If the child is under 17, they are given leave to remain, which means they can stay in the UK and will be looked after until they are old enough to look after themselves.

This often means they are placed with a foster family who look after them as though they are part of their family. They can start going to a local school and they can start to make a life for themselves here in the UK.

Many of the children stay around Kent and Dover in the south of England because that is where they first arrive. In the past year Kent has placed nearly 1,000 children in homes in that area.

Ruth is one of them. She came all over from Eritrea on her own. She now goes to college and has many friends. She wants to become a nurse.

Read her story here

Journey Festival International Open Day



Another festival for refugees in Manchester.

Journeys Festival International celebrates the extraordinary creativity, culture and experiences that refugees bring to the UK. Managed by ArtReach and established in Leicester in 2013, the festival will be developing strands of work in Manchester this October, with a view to hosting full festivals in 2017 and beyond. Working across a wide range of creative media and disciplines, Journeys Festival International aims to bring the exceptional talent of local, national and international refugee artists into the public eye. 

Strands of work that will be brought to Manchester in 2016 (and beyond) include:

·         Look Up – a visual exhibition uniting the public realm with art in iconic cityscape locations. If you are an artist, there is scope to develop work for the 2017 exhibition or beyond.

·         The Container Project – presenting installations, visual arts and pop-up performances based in and around a shipping container, symbolic of export and transference of place. There will be opportunities to display work, perform and engage with the activities going on in this space.

·         Coffee Shop Conversations – an opportunity for the public to discuss and exchange views with refugees and refugee artists over the domestic ritual of coffee and cake. There will be opportunities to participate in these sessions as speakers and chair persons to lead the discussions.

·         Manchester Museum – Journeys Festival International Take Over – on Saturday 8 October Manchester Museum will be taken over by a host of Journeys Festival International activity. There will be exhibitions, performance, activities and storytelling curated by Manchester Museum/Portsmouth University department of Psychological Sciences. There will also be a Coffee Shop Conversation, pop up theatre performances and interactive, digital kite flying.
The open day is your chance to find out more and make links with the festival organisers. Light refreshments will be provided.

To book your place, please email katherine@can.uk.com or text 07533 568 672.                                

Refugee week and festivities

Refugee week is coming and there is a lot going on here across the Greater Manchester.

We went to Bristol to take part in the Community Theatre Festival #Actatheatre, 2016. Our show  is being supported by #CAN, Community Arts North West and it’s a project for refugee women. We are a group of 7 women from different countries and we shared our stories during a few workshops held in Manchester city centre.  The director Rany Morthy made them into the script and gave us instructions on how to act.

Our first performance was a bit of a shock to me as it was my first time being on stage and I could hear the sound of my heartbeat in my ears. I kept telling myself that this is just fun and try to enjoy it. Audience was incredible and they really supported us to towards the end.

I also had a chance to see other shows and meet fantastic Caribbean women and their show @Moonshine Nights which was one of the best performances I have seen. They filled us with  joy and laughter for more than one hour and they acted so naturally and authentically.

The next show was a street performance by two incredible women from London. There were some other shows to watch but we had to come hack to Manchester, getting ready for our next performance which is going to be in Z-Arts on 22th of June.   

The whole process was fun and for me kind of therapy to relieve myself from bad experiences I have had during the last few years.

To book for the show click here