A group of third years have started a project documenting the refugee camps
One refugee described his travel from Syria to France as from ‘prison to prison’
Two weeks ago a handful of King’s students launched their project Insight Journals to raise awareness of the refugee crises.
They have already released two trailers for their upcoming documentary, which is due to be shown during Syria Week in January.
Insight Journals was created by third year students Mohamed studying Religion, Ethics and Philosophy, English student Siraj, Abdur-Raafay who studies Physics, Medic Enam and Navid studying Maths.
Speaking to The Tab, Mohamed told us more about the project.
How did Insight Journals start?
The idea began in 2014 when I thought I was going to graduate (I didn’t). I got unwell and there were loads of setbacks. Fast forward to January 2016, my friend Conor O’Hollaran was going to visit the Calais Jungle and asked if I was interested – I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. The people who were still interested in the project were also going. Then in July, I was offered a chance to go to Jordan and do some relief work there aswell.
At first we agreed on the name Bright Side Journals, but that had already been taken. We’ve been editing, scripting, writing and working on the documentary since January.
Did your subject influence your decision to volunteer?
I wouldn’t say my subject directly influenced me to volunteer. I was supposed to graduate in 2014, and because of medical problems I was unable. I was quite depressed, and felt useless and without purpose.
When I received the message from Conor I jumped at the chance because maybe this was my purpose. Perhaps if I had graduated I would never have had this opportunity. But I would say a mixture of religious, moral, and a sense of trying to be purposeful in life is what made me go.
How did volunteering change your perspective?
It’s sad to think that I was feeling depressed and had it bad. Then I travelled two hours from my home town to Calais and saw people wearing vests, dirty clothes with no shoes, lining up to get bread and lentils.
I saw many things: kids not older than ten playing football in a hell hole, going into a small tent and being told that eighty sleep there. Also hearing that a refugee was killed by people attacking the camp one day before we arrived and that refugees were often beaten by the police.
Were there any upsetting stories or experiences you had whilst volunteering?
The moment I had to tell a large queue of people lining up for food that we had run out, knowing that was our last distribution for the day.
I also heard heart wrenching stories from a woman whose son was shot. She was elderly, and now has to take care of the rest of her family.
Jordan is one of the most expensive places to live in the world, yet has one of the highest rates of poverty. Refugees are legally not allowed to work in Jordan, so they have to rely on vouchers.
What can we expect from the full documentary?
In the trailer a Sudanese man is asked for a message. He replies with “even these images, and the footage are considered a trust, a message right? So you have to send the message” and so the documentary is his message. Another guy told us that he had come from the prison in Syria to France, “from prison to prison.”
Finally what do you think the student body could do to help? We have Charity Week every year, so is giving money the answer?
Money is only part of the answer. We need volunteers, it’s so cheap to go to Calais or Greece, and a weekend makes a difference – London is closer to Calais than it is to Manchester. As students we have skills and expertise that could make a difference to someone’s life.
Universities need to offer scholarships to refugees, or send unused books to many of whom will help our communities and give back.
What does the future hold for Insight Journals?
I want to tackle issues we face here in Britain such as homelessness and health, but also not lose sight of things going on elsewhere. Ultimately in the future, Insight Journals will become an online hub, perhaps get the viewers to send in their “journals” and create events we can all be a part of.