Our Voices

Humanising ourselves through art

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Humanising is  a group exhibition by refugees and asylum seekers from BIASAN in Bradford. BIASAN is a volunteer-run organisation founded in 1999 to support asylum seekers and refugees. The exhibition is about humanising people rather than showing them as victims, expressing positive emotions such as: joy, love, passion, happiness, pleasure, as well as good mental health and well-being. This exhibition gives the group a platform to shows their positive contributions to British society and their community involvement.

Read more about the artists and see their images below.


Afaf

I come from Alexandria in Egypt. I lived there for 25 years with my whole family including my parents. I lived by the sea, and the beach was just outside the door.

As the beach was so close, we used to get up early, so me and my friends would go straight to see what the fishermen had caught on the day.  I’d buy the freshest catch and cook it as soon as I went home. That’s what we all did in Egypt. It was just a way of life: sun, sand sea and beach.

I did have a job. I was a nurse for 15 years. I loved it. Sometimes when we finished our shifts and we’d just sit and drink black tea together. There was a time when I used to go out a lot with my friends, and eat from street food vendors who did delicious Egyptian food – but I would say that, I am Egyptian!

I always remember the weather as lovely and hot, with sometimes little soft lovely breezes. But I’ll forever remember the beach, and the sea. I could see both stretching out for miles: sitting there, I used to get lost in my thoughts for hours. It was very idyllic. I like the UK but I miss my life in Egypt. I’ve accepted my life here. I can’t go back: to what and how? I think it’s impossible, but I can still dream.


Aliaa

I am originally from Baghdad in Iraq. I used to be an electrical engineer. It was very common for women take this role in Iraq. Before the war, the government actively encouraged women into many roles: as drivers, engineers, teaching, pilots, architects; all of these roles were open to women. But when the war came, everything changed.

Many things changed for everyone. It was harsh. I accepted the changes, whether I liked it or not, I had to survive. I lost all my family in the war, except for one sister who was married who stayed.  It wasn’t safe for me to be a lone woman in Iraq. I was vulnerable to attack and intimidation by dangerous people so I left the country. That’s how it was for all women there.

I moved to Syria as a refugee. I registered with the United Nations programme and was successful. I lived in Damascus for about nine years where I studied, lived and worked in many different roles including as a hairdresser, teacher, beauty therapist, and secretary.

I loved living in Syria. I loved my life there. It was cheap, quiet and safe. Life in the city was like a dream. I have very fond memories of my life and how it used to be. I moved to Lebanon for a while and then I ended up settling back into Damascus again.

I came to the UK two years ago through the UN programme, and I ended up in Bradford. I wasn’t happy here at first. It’s not Iraq or Syria, but I do like it here. It’s a great country. I’ve seen quite a bit of Yorkshire and made great friends who I can rely on and know they will be there when I need them. That’s important to me.


Sarah

I am from Syria. I have been in the UK for three years now. I am married and I have a husband Hussain and two beautiful boys, Nur and Raydour. My family is the most important aspect of my life. I love my husband and my children dearly. They mean everything to me.

My husband is one year younger than me. He is a quiet, kind, wise man and very patient. I know he loves me and our children very deeply. He chooses the best for us as a family and I appreciate him for that. However he makes me angry sometimes, because of football! He’s football mad!

Nur is six years old and attends the local school. He loves it there. It’s not so far away from my home and that’s good for me. I’m glad it’s close enough for me to walk to. We don’t have a car. Raydour is three years old and he is at the same school as Nur, but in the nursery. He’s a bit spoiled as he’s the youngest, the baby in the family. He just cries a lot if he doesn’t get his own way.

I came here with my family from Syria. They keep me going and I keep them going, we only have each other. We have left Syria behind. There’s nothing to go back to.


Yusra

I am 21 years old and I am originally from Aleppo in Syria! I loved it there, it was very  beautiful. I still have family there. My elder brother is there and I worry about him a lot. I miss him and Aleppo. It was my home.

I am from a family of six brothers and sisters. I am the third youngest in the family. I am now in my early 20s. I am still young and ready to explore my life! Especially now I am in the UK.  Living in Aleppo was different. I didn’t go out much, but that was just me. It was quite safe to walk around on a night and parties finished late, sometimes around 4am!

I left my friends behind and am now making a life in the UK.  But I’m not complaining. I like it here. I think there are better opportunities for young people than there are in Syria. I haven’t forgotten where I came from but I am building my life and need to think of my future now.

I came to the UK in 2014, through the UK Gateway program.  When I first arrived here, In Bradford, I couldn’t speak much English. It was hard to communicate with others, even with those trying to be helpful. It was hard but then I started at Bradford College. I enrolled on a course, a beginner’s class in the English language. I now have Maths and English too.     

I enjoy England. I like living here. It’s good for my whole family. We have a good life.


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