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Refugees: In Our Eyes

by Lauren Johnson, Learning Officer

During the
summer, The Jewish Museum was asked to participate in a project run by Camden
Council for the Camden Summer University that investigated the current refugee crisis.

Local teenagers got the opportunity to take part in a week-long film workshop,
whereby they researched the crisis and responded with a film of their own. The
result is ‘Refugees: In Our Eyes’, an honest and inspiring look in to the
crisis, featuring Syrian Refugee and activist Ahmad al-Rashid, AOI World
Illustration award winner Olivier Kugler, ice&fire
theatre, campaigner Onjali Rauf who has been organising aid to the Calais
Camp with her charity Making Herstory and the Jewish Museum. The young people involved gained a
crucial insight into the lives of activists and those directly involved.

On behalf of the museum
I was asked to create a mini-tour highlighting the history of Jews in Britain
and the subsequent contribution that the Jewish community has made to Britain.
I focused mainly on the role of trade unions, the East End and post-war
migration to Britain.

I was then
interviewed on camera, which was a slightly unnerving experience! The night
before I was sent some very tricky questions such as ‘Why has there been such a
backlash against refugees?’ I decided to answer truthfully, with my gut and as
a result my responses are my own opinions.

The young
people who made the film were fantastic. They were engaged, asked intelligent
questions and, under the tutelage of Suzanne Cohen, had become excellent
filmmakers. You could tell that the experience will stay with them for years to

I’m very
glad that I took part in this project. By engaging with the collection of the Jewish Museum, the young filmmakers were able to see
positive stories of refugees and migration. 

I think that in the current climate it is important to remember that refugees and migrants,
if welcomed, can become vital citizens that contribute to the ‘blended’ culture of modern Britain. As shown by Kindertransportees, when refugee
children are offered a safe haven, they find a place to grow and learn and question and contribute.

So please
watch the film, share the film and believe that if we all work together and
open our minds and hearts this refugee crisis can be solved.

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