GCGI Christmas Appeal 2016: The Gift of Refugees and Migrants
- Kamran Mofid
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"Injustice flourishes in soil where empathy has been uprooted.”
…I am told I have no country now
I am told I am a lie
I am told that modern history books
May forget my name.
We can all be refugees
Sometimes it only takes a day,
Sometimes it only takes a handshake
Or a paper that is signed.
We all came from refugees
Nobody simply just appeared,
Nobody's here without a struggle,
And why should we live in fear
Of the weather or the troubles?
We all came here from somewhere.-Benjamin Zephaniah
This is the crisis of our times, and how we respond to it is a test of our values, our spirit, our humanity, our ingenuity, our generosity, and our sincerity
The Gift of Refugees and Migrants
'The Refugee's Gift:Here are people who have escaped from persecution and who have benefited from our long tradition of offering asylum. They may have arrived recently from conflicts in Syria, Eritrea, or Somalia, or sought safety decades ago from Hitler’s Germany. Men and women, young and old, rich and poor, most arrived with few material possessions – but they all came with an unstoppable determination to make a new life.’-Refugee Council, UK
‘It is a compelling theory, especially when you reflect upon the fact that Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nuryev, Marlene Dietrich, Alexandre Solzhenitsyn and Vladimir Nabokov were among but a few celebrity refugees and migrants.
Imagine what the world would have missed had they not managed to forge a better life outside their country of origin.’-RadioFreeEurope
For our first ever GCGI Christmas appeal, I have chosen refugees as our theme, not just to raise money for a refugee in Germany, but as an act of solidarity. Our appeal slogan is We Stand Together: a stand against intolerance, xenophobia, racism and fear; a stand against building walls between nations and peoples, a stand for empathy, sympathy and generosity. And a stand for clarity and perspective: Brexit and Donald Trump have shown us that our cause is noble, timely and greatly needed: As informed individuals, we know that one must not start to equate the issue of refugees with terrorism.
Our appeal is very modest: to raise a small sum of money for a refugee in Germany, so that we can say it, loud and clear: We stand against inhumanity and we are all for social justice, peace and harmony on this planet earth, we call our home.
Syrian refugee Ghuzoun meets German teacher and artist Brigitte
Introduction by Kamran Mofid
Brigitte, a dear friend of the GCGI, is a German teacher, artist, activist and volunteer, working directly with refugees and asylum seekers in Germany, supporting them to rebuild their lives, helping them to settle down, finding their path and calling to a better life.
One of those refugees that Brigitte has worked with is Ghuzoun Hazwani, a refugee from Syria. With the help and encouragement from Brigitte, Ghuzoun started to do portraits of her loved ones as a path to healing, inner-peace and contentment. Below, in her own words and sentiments, Brigitte has explained a bit more for your reflection.
In September 2016, Brigitte joined us at our 3rd Joint GCGI-SES Conference at Waterperry House, she told us a beautiful story of when she met Ghuzoun; and then exhibited a sample of Ghuzoun’s drawings at the beautiful courtyard of the House. A very memorable moment for all of us present, I am sure.
Brigitte (front-centre) at Waterperry House. Photo: av.gnnsj
After the Conference, I encouraged Brigitte to make these portraits and more, available to the public to purchase, so that we can create a small amount of income for Ghuzoun, to enable and empower her to continue her artistic work more effectively.
So, I am now pleading with you to purchase one, two, or more of her drawings for yourself, or give away as a gift of love to others. Please also note that, Ghuzoun is willing to do portraits from your personal photos, should you wish to send them to her.
The portraits are priced the modest sum of 25 Euros each (inclusive of frame and shipping costs). Brigitte has set up a PayPal account for her, to which you can pay into (see all the details below).
Now please read the story in Brigitte’s own words and view some of Ghuzon’s portraits.
I very much thank you in advance for your kind support for this project.
Syrian refugee Ghuzoun meets German artist Brigitte
By Brigitte Volz
The title of an artistic work I have done during the last two years is: “German Women’s Thread of Life.”
It was mainly a photographic work – presented in an installation.
The goal was to find out what defines a woman as a German woman.
Her German passport which grants her the right to live in Germany for a temporary or unlimited period – in particular if she is not born in Germany?
All women featured in my photo essay live in Germany. Some hail from families living in this country for generations. Some live here as first and second generation migrants or just arrived as refugees from Iraq, Palestine, Ethiopia, Macedonia, Syria, Chechnya or from the Sudan.
Knowing these women from my private or professional life, I intended to learn more about their life and to keep hold of this experience: Using photos, which I had shot listening to their tales. The telling of their experience is mirrored, notably in the expression of the mouth.
The aim of the work was not to shoot professional photos – but to get in contact with the women and focus on the emotions behind their stories through a third eye.
A Syrian woman who entered my atelier brought a new aspect into my work. Her name is Ghuzoun Hazwani. She had recently come to Germany as refugee from Syria.
She started drawing portraits after my photos. Then she used the photos of her beloved ones on her mobile phone: Still alive or killed in the war.
The fact that Ghuzoun had an exhibition together with me in May 2016 was very encouraging for her and all the other refugees in our community.
Brigitte and Ghuzoun, May 2016
In August 2016 I had the chance to present the exhibition again at Oxford, Waterperry House during the GCGI conference. The presentation was highly appreciated by the participants of the conference and some spontaneously bought drawings of Ghuzoun.
This inspired Kamran Mofid to try and create an income for her by offering her drawings on this website.
Below you can see a sample of Ghuzoun drawings and should you wish to buy them or commission her to do drawings from your own photos, I have set up a PayPal account to which you can submit your payments: paypal.me/BrigitteVolz.
portraits of refugee women, presented at Oxford Conference 2016