This year, I've had the privilege of working with Bradford Action for Refugees on Refugee Voices, a storytelling/drama project for secondary schools, gathering stories from refugees who live in Bradford, and those who work with them, and turning these stories into a script.
The script formed the basis of a pilot project with a group of ten year seven students in April. Myself and Amy Harris (Windowbox Theatre Company) spent a week with them, running storytelling and drama workshops, preparing a performance of the script which they gave to their classmates at the end of the week. The week was challenging, inspiring, eye-opening - both for the students and for Amy and I. Assumptions were challenged, attitudes changed, and we all learned to see certain aspects of the world through new eyes.
Being involved in the Refugee Voices project has had a profound impact on me, far more than I ever would have predicted. The quiet dignity of those who shared their stories, their strength of character, their sense of humour, their skills and abilities, their determination, could not fail to move those who encounter them.
There is nothing like hearing someone tell you their story in their own words...
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’”