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Calder Navigation

Our Home

In this episode of Calder Navigation, we’re passing the microphone to five incredible individuals: Musa, Sofayne, Hazel, Hina and Abdelhameed who are people seeking sanctuary in the UK.

Today (Thursday 20th June) is World Refugee Day and it’s also Refugee Week, which has the theme of Our Home. In this episode we’re showcasing the resilience and creativity of refugees and people seeking sanctuary, who have very kindly agreed to talk to us about what ‘home’ means to them. Today you’ll hear beautiful pieces of writing and poetry alongside short interviews.

At Curious Motion, we stand in solidarity with all those affected by war, devastation, and conflict around the world. In this Refugee Week, we extend our deepest support and empathy to those who have been compelled to flee their homes in search of safety and refuge elsewhere. The podcast episode you are about to hear features the courageous voices of refugees currently living here in Calderdale. Through their poignant witness statements, they offer profound insights into their experiences of displacement, resilience, and hope. Their stories are a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

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About Our Home

We are delighted to introduce you to Musa, Hazel, Abdelhameed, Sofyane, and Hina. They have all been part of St Augustine’s Centre’s creative writing group. Facilitated by professional poet Clare Shaw and Northern Broadsides’ Artistic Director/ CEO Laurie Sansom, the group offers opportunities for people seeking sanctuary in Calderdale to share their stories, have their voices heard, and unleash their creativity.

Musa is 20 years old and from Syria. He recently wrote a selection of short creative writing pieces called ‘What if I had a Homeland’, which he is delighted to share a selection of in this episode.

Hazel is a transgender activist, humanitarian and intersectional feminist. She is passionate about supporting those whose voices are not heard and she is an aspiring law student.

Abdelhameed is from Sudan, and he was recently involved in an exhibition called ‘My Name is not Asylum Seeker’. He shares his writing and thoughts around this.

Sofyane is a beautician and influencer who had his own business before coming to the UK, including a hugely successful following on social media and YouTube alongside his physical business.

Hina has written a beautiful poem alongside fellow writer, Faith, called ‘Home’ and it’s Calderdale’s official Refugee Week poem this year. We are absolutely delighted that she has shared it with us in this episode (make sure you listen to the end!). Hina is very proud of being an asylum seeker – she describes asylum seekers as dream achievers and freedom fighters. In her words – they are not victims, they are warriors. They fight the traumas, fear, anxiety, stress, worry around acceptance and how they will be received, the rules and regulations.



Transcript

[00:00:10.050] – Sam

Welcome back to Calder Navigation, where each episode serves as a compass guiding you through the vibrant tapestry of Calderdale. I’m Samantha McCormick, your host and Artistic Director of Curious Motion. I’m delighted to present season two as part of our Culturedale Commission, celebrating Calderdale’s rich cultural heritage during the year of culture. 

 

In this season, we continue to champion the voices of our remarkable neighbours, celebrating their resilience, diversity, and the shared experiences that bind us together. From intimate conversations to profound revelations, each episode is an invitation to connect, reflect, and celebrate the human experience.

 

[00:00:54.690] – Sam

Season two of Calder Navigation is not just a podcast. It’s a celebration of community, culture, and the enduring spirit of Calderdale. Join us as we delve into the heart and soul of our community, exploring the myriad of stories that shape our shared experience.

 

[00:01:12.700] – Sam

Today, we’re bringing you a very special episode dedicated to showcasing the resilience and creativity of Refugees and People Seeking Sanctuary. This week is Refugee Week, the world’s largest arts and culture festival celebrating People Seeking Sanctuary. And today, Thursday, the 20th of June is World Refugee Day. The theme for Refugee Week this year is Our Home, and in their words, ‘From the places we gather to share meals to our collective home, planet Earth, everyone is invited to celebrate what our home means to them’.

 

[00:01:47.750] – Sam

At Curious Motion, we stand in solidarity with all those affected by war, devastation, and conflict around the world. In this Refugee Week, we extend our deepest support and empathy to those who have been compelled to flee their homes in search of safety and refuge elsewhere. The podcast episode you are about to hear features the courageous voices of refugees currently living here in Calderdale. Through their poignant witness statements, they offer profound insights into their experiences of displacement, resilience, and hope. Their stories are a testament to the strength and resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

 

[00:02:27.180] – Sam

The people featured in this episode have all been of St Augustine’s Centre Creative Writing Group, facilitated by professional poet Clare Shaw and Northern Broadside’s Artistic Director and CEO, Laurie Sansom. The group offers amazing opportunities for people seeking sanctuary in Calderdale to share their stories, have their voices heard, and unleash their creativity.

 

[00:02:49.690] – Sam

Each of them has taken time to reflect on the theme of Our Home, and today, they will share this with you. As listeners, we are invited to bear witness to their journeys, to listen with empathy and understanding, recognising the shared humanity that unites us all. Their stories serve as a powerful reminder of the urgent need for compassion, solidarity, and action in support of refugees worldwide. Thank you for joining us on this journey of listening, learning, and understanding.

 

[00:03:28.490] – Sam

First up, we have Musa. Musa is from Syria, and he recently wrote a selection of short creative writing pieces called ‘What If I Had A Homeland’. Musa has also been working on performing his writing, and it is our absolute pleasure to share some of this with you today. Musa wanted to express his gratitude to everyone at St Augustine’s who has supported him, particularly Clare and Laurie, with his writing, and to Eve for all of her support. You’ll hear three of the pieces from What If I Had A Homeland today: Homeland Is Everything For Me, Mountains and A Letter To My Mother. Here he is.

 

[00:04:09.320] – Musa

Homeland is everything for me. 

A homeland believes in your principles now and in the future.

A homeland preserves your dignity and your personality, 

your work and your studies, 

your society and the people around you. 

 

What if I had a homeland to protect me and take care of me? Would I have left for another country? 

Would this have happened to me if I had a homeland? A homeland that would give me the freedom I need? 

 

My homeland is terrifying. There are no human rights. No dignity. There is no security, no elections, no work, no water, no food, no future at all.

 

[00:04:56.100] – Musa

Mountains. 

These mountains were incredible, terrifying. 

Me and my brother wondered how we could get through. 

We used to climb the mountains every night and day 

to cross to other lands. 

At night, we faced dangerous and ferocious animals – bears, snakes, dogs, wolves. 

We could not sleep in these mountains. 

We used to drink dirty water, the water the animals drank. 

We tried to filter through our clothes. 

Life in these mountains was difficult. 

We lived there for 10 days without anything to eat. 

We were like dead people. 

No one knew anything about us. 

The mountains are gigantic, deadly, frightening. 

People can die between the mountains

Nobody knowing anything about them.

 

[00:05:58.490] – Musa

A letter to my mother. 

Today, I am writing to my mom. My mom, I haven’t seen her since 2017. I haven’t enjoyed time with her. I haven’t said to her good morning my mom. I haven’t kissed her hands. I haven’t stood with her on her birthday or Mother’s Day. All I can say to my mom is be proud of your son, he is doing the best for you. I love you so much, my mom.

 

[00:06:28.400] – Musa

Ending. 

I hope that when I finish my studies, I will get qualifications and then open my own motor vehicle business. Then I will travel to my wonderful family, and then we will all sit together at a dinner table. 

 

I wish I had the opportunities that my friends have so that I could study. My friends have many opportunities, but they don’t feel it. We must know the value of things. 

We should know the important things in this life – if somebody helps you out with anything, make sure you help them back. Life is like a tyre – everything comes back around to you. 

 

I come from a country that has lived through 12 years of war, occupation, destruction, hypocrisy, humiliation, rape and massacre. 

 

My name is Musa. 

I am 20 years old. 

I come from Syria.

 

[00:07:30.060] – Sam

Next, I’m delighted to introduce you to Hazel. Hazel is a transgender activist, humanitarian, and intersectional feminist. She is passionate about supporting those whose voices are not heard, and she’s an aspiring law student. Here she is to tell us more.

 

[00:07:50.160] – Sam

Welcome, Hazel. Lovely to have you here. Thank you for having a chat with me.

 

[00:07:55.090] – Hazel

Thank you for having me. I feel so honoured.

 

[00:07:57.620] – Sam

I’m looking forward to chatting with you.

 

[00:08:00.650] – Hazel

Me too.

 

[00:08:01.330] – Sam

As you know, this episode is themed around Home for Refugee Week, and I’ve been chatting to other people about this as well. I just wondered if you could share with us what Home means to you.

 

[00:08:12.960] – Hazel

For the very starters, Home for me means a second chance. It means finding a sense of belonging in the UK and being given sanctuary. Being able to live my life as a transgender woman, freely under the UK law as a protected characteristic, and being able to change my ID documentation and not have that be a thing, being allowed to dress how I want and to express myself how I want and not be policed or told that I can’t do certain things because of my gender identity. Home for me means all those things. A second chance, a place of belonging, a second chance to start again in this country that I have sought asylum in.

 

[00:09:11.470] – Sam

Great. And how does that feel? Can you give us a little bit more about the feeling of having that freedom that you’ve talked about?

 

[00:09:19.290] – Hazel

It actually feels amazing. It feels incredibly so freeing having to be able to do certain things that I wouldn’t have been able to do before. And I am so grateful that I get to be in this space, have this conversation with you, access certain spaces that a lot of people can’t be able to access. So there is that privilege that I recognise that in this context, me having to call the UK home again, I mean, for the first time, it is something that is a privilege that a lot of trans people, Black trans women, especially from countries that don’t accept that, are able to have. So I’m really grateful. There’s a lot of gratuity that I feel, and this just feeling of everything is going to be okay. Things are going to work out one day at a time. Baby steps. Yeah. Yeah.

 

[00:10:23.090] – Sam

And I know you’re also very passionate about these issues that affect people all over the world and situations in our world as well. And activism is a big part of who you are, isn’t it? And I wondered if you could talk to us just a little bit about why that is and what’s important to you with that.

 

[00:10:45.090] – Hazel

I think for me as a trans person, I learned from early on that, well, for my country, I wasn’t able to access certain things. Health care was a nightmare. Accessing social services and basically social justice systems for trans people in my country was a nightmare. So I recognised early on that I had to stand up, I had to show up, and I had to be an activist. So it was not something that was a choice for me. It was just something that I had to do as a necessity to actually live a decent life just like any other person that’s not transgender. So I have those kinds of humble beginnings within the activism space. I would say that right now, because I’m on the system, I’m an activist. I still attend LGBT groups. I’m still very active during Pride Week and all of that. But it’s more like taking an online persona now where I’m just more active in online spaces. But then because I can’t do certain things as an asylum seeker right now with my case pending, so I’m allowed to do only so much. But I’m really passionate about minorities and speaking for them because I know what it’s like to be oppressed.

 

[00:11:58.420] – Hazel

I know what it’s like to be denied your humanity. So I can recognise oppression in others that may manifest in a different form, whether it’s in who you are as a form of maybe your religion or your race or things like that. I can recognise that and call that out. So me being an intersectional feminist is a reflection of that recognition that I want to be able to have conversations around all of these things and not single them out. It’s single issues, but see them as an interconnected web of all of these things that exist connected because all systems of oppression are connected, and then oppression is intersectional. So recognising that from humble beginnings, from when I came out, that was one of the things that I wanted to do, just be in the spaces, rally people like me into human rights spaces, lobby for policy, lobby for changes. Coming from a country like mine, it could be very dangerous because visibility, it can predispose you to dangerous situations. So you had to do things like ducking and just be strategic about that.

 

[00:13:13.900] – Sam

I can see your passion already just coming out. I think it’s interesting there. You said it’s not a choice because it’s come from your lived experience, and obviously, that brings with it a real level of understanding and empathy and I don’t know. I’m very much inspired by people who use their lived experience to support other people, too, because what you must have been through and are still dealing with is heavy, I imagine. And to make the choice to use that in a way that supports other people, I think, is very admirable as well.

 

[00:13:51.640] – Hazel

Yeah. There was a poem, I think it was… It was written by one of the survivors of the Holocaust, and it said, First they came for the… And then they came for the… And then they came for me, and there was no one left to defend me. Have you heard of that?

 

[00:14:06.340] – Sam

No, I haven’t.

 

[00:14:07.010] – Hazel

So that poem is encapsulated what you just said, that when you don’t speak for others, one day there’s not going to be anybody that’s going to speak up for you.

 

[00:14:17.920] – Sam

I see.

 

[00:14:19.680] – Hazel

And then when we don’t speak up for others, and we’re just there and we’re witnessing it, it’s like we are saying that it’s okay to actually… For the status quo of oppression to continue, burying our head in the sand, like, Oh, it doesn’t concern me. Someday it’s going to be you, and there’s not going to be anybody to step in for you.

 

[00:14:41.560] – Hazel

So that idea, it arises from me a very strong sense of responsibility to speak up for myself and others, because I recognise that there are times where I can’t speak up for myself, and I need someone to stand up for me. I’ve had those moments where no one stood up for me because they were afraid. I like to imagine that other people are afraid, and in those circumstances, maybe I’m brave and I should do that.

 

[00:15:15.950] – Sam

It reminds us of how connected we all are, doesn’t it?

 

[00:15:19.510] – Hazel

Absolutely. I mean, we’re human beings at the end of the day. As asylum seeker or not, we’re all human beings. It is incredibly so sad that we have situations in the world where people are forced to leave their own countries like myself and come to another country. I would like us not to… I mean, in an ideal world, I would like there to be peace everywhere, to have… for people to be allowed to be who they are and not fight or flee. But that’s not the home we’re living in right now. It’s a call out for us, just mere mortals, mere human beings, citizens, to be good people, stand up for one another because we are all we have.

 

[00:16:05.180] – Sam

Yeah, that is such a strong point. What are your hopes for the future then, Hazel? I know personally you’ve got aspirations regarding law. Is that right?

 

[00:16:15.550] – Hazel

Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, I’ve been told this a lot. I have a strong command sense about me, and I think I do. Not toot my own horn, but I do want I want to become a solicitor one day. I want to become a lawyer, work with immigration. So because I already have a master’s in Public Health and an undergraduate in Criminology, I am thinking of getting into the graduate law programme for two years. That would be like a condensed law programme, and I’ll be able to graduate after two years and get into that space.

 

[00:16:55.560] – Sam

Fantastic. Yeah. Oh, that’s really exciting. Yeah, I hope that really comes out to fruition for you soon.

 

[00:17:03.500] – Hazel

I hope so, too, because I’m willing to put everything in it, seek all the help I can get. If there’s anyone listening, help me out. Reach out and help. So, yeah.

 

[00:17:15.560] – Sam

Great. And just to finish it off, any hopes and dreams for the future, maybe in a more general sense, maybe for our world, for us humans?

 

[00:17:25.600] – Hazel

Yeah. I honestly want there to be more compassion. I feel like the climate today, just politically speaking, it’s just taking a term of fascist directions where people are very open and public about their disdain for other people and how other people are. 

 

People don’t like trans people, and they’re able to say that openly. But like, no, you people are wrong. And people don’t like asylum seekers. They don’t like certain people because of you know… So I would like there to be more compassion. 

 

I think this is a call out for people to look in within themselves and just see us as human beings, see other people who are different from you as human beings. They’re not too different from you. We breathe the same air, we bleed the same blood. We’re all the same. We’re human beings. It’s just that we’re going through different circumstances in life. 

 

So I want there to be compassion in the world, no more wars, just basically peace everywhere. I want there to be more due diligence when it comes to cases for LGBT persons in this country, especially who are going through the system, LGBT people. I want that to be more sensitivity in handling those kinds of cases.

 

[00:18:51.650] – Hazel

I mean, there’s always room for improvement. But at the end of the day, I’m so grateful that this country has opened its borders for me. And I studied here. I have an education from this country. 

 

So I think for me, it will be an easy transition. But for other people who don’t speak the language, have to learn the language, and integrate into the culture, it will be a very long road to integration. So I would like there to be more compassion for those people as well. 

 

When someone else comes to you in the street and they’re asking for direction, and their English is not that good, please, please, please try to help them out. Be patient with them because the thought of them having had fled their own countries, fleeing war and come into this country and not be feeling welcomed, it can really take a toll on their mental health. 

 

Absolutely. And just do their head in every single day. Just the dauntingness of it all, just the thought of it having to just go out into the world and can’t even speak the language. But you’re learning, you’re trying to. So I want there to be more compassion from people.

 

[00:20:03.150] – Sam

Yeah, more compassion, more togetherness.

 

[00:20:06.020] – Hazel

Absolutely.

 

[00:20:07.470] – Sam

We’ll put that out into the universe.

 

[00:20:09.830] – Hazel

Yeah, positive vibration. Yeah. Positive vibration. I feel like as human beings, that’s the one thing that separates us within the animal kingdom. Our capacity to feel compassion for other people. Our humility, our respect for just humankind and human nature. So if these qualities were put out there into practical terms and people were actually doing them, I think we would actually see a lot of problems that we’re facing right now be solved by just a simple act of kindness.

 

[00:20:50.150] – Sam

Yeah, I agree. It’s got a lot of power, hasn’t it? But we’re in systems and cultures that maybe don’t allow that to happen in the way we need it.

 

[00:21:00.100] – Hazel

I mean, we’ve come a long way since the 1800s and all of that. I like the fact that there’s just so many of these conversations that people are having in different parts of the world, in different spaces. More and more young people nowadays do not care about who you are. They’re just like, You know what? We’re human beings. They’re taking more of a liberal approach into things. They’re not as restrictive as the older generation when it comes to self expression and all of that. I think that with that mentality of saying, You know what? You are a human being. I may not understand you, but you are a human being, and that’s what’s up. I will respect that. I think that’s what we need for people to see people as human beings.

 

[00:21:47.310] – Sam

Embrace our shared humanity. Absolutely. Oh, thank you, Hazel. It’s been really a short but very beautiful chat.

 

[00:21:55.800] – Hazel

I feel so honoured to share my thoughts with the world, I wish we could talk some more.

 

[00:22:01.890] – Sam

Yeah, well, maybe we can again in the future. That’d be nice.

 

[00:22:04.500] – Hazel

Absolutely.

 

[00:22:05.230] – Sam

Yeah, it would.

 

[00:22:06.240] – Hazel

I would love that.

 

[00:22:07.500] – Sam

Yeah, keep me posted with how you’re getting on with everything.

 

[00:22:10.400] – Hazel

I will definitely do that.

 

[00:22:10.780] – Sam

And maybe we can touch base again. That would be really lovely.

 

[00:22:13.250] – Hazel

Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.

 

[00:22:14.620] – Sam

It’s been a pleasure. Thank you, Hazel.

 

[00:22:17.730] – Hazel

Up next is Abdelhameed, who was recently involved in a wonderful exhibition called My Name Is Not Asylum Seeker, hosted by Halifax Central Library and also showing in other places in West Yorkshire. The exhibition is about the everyday lives and experiences of people who have sought asylum here in the UK.

 

[00:22:42.310] – Abdelhameed

My Name Is Not Asylum Seeker

I am a tree whose roots have been uprooted from homeland soil, who wants to be planted in a new soil. 

My new soil is the society of Halifax. 

My roots are the social relations in Halifax. 

The relations provide me with love and belonging. 

So I am a love and life seeker. 

I am a fish who was hooked from the water. 

I am the one who searched for another planet, where I feel alive, safe, and legal.

So I am a new planet seeker.

 

[00:23:56.060] – Sam

Thank you very much for sharing your writing there from the exhibition. Would you be able to tell us a little bit more about the exhibition My Name Is Not Asylum Seeker, and what that means for you?

 

[00:24:10.470] – Abdelhameed

Okay, thank you very much. My name is Abdelhameed Mahmoud. I am from Sudan. I attended that event, which is called My Name Is Not Asylum Seeker. Just because people who come in United Kingdom, they are not just searching for documents or asylum, but they are searching for new life, love, solidarity, and belonging. And even more, they wanted to say, we are one-world citizens. There is no English citizens, and African citizens or Asian citizens. So they wanted the walls to fall. So that exhibition was about we are not asylum seekers. We are normal citizens, like every English man or woman here.

 

[00:25:26.080] – Sam

Yeah, that you’re human beings, too, and remembering that we’re all human beings who have the need to belong, the need to be loved, the need to not be in danger.

 

[00:25:41.300] – Abdelhameed

Yeah. Exactly. That was the reason why we participated in that event.

 

[00:25:46.530] – Sam

And what did it feel like to participate in it for you?

 

[00:25:50.290] – Abdelhameed

It was for me, it was hard touching. I felt very happy. I expressed my right feelings because to me, death is not to be drowned in the sea or to be taken to the grave, but death is to let that feeling unexpressed in me, inside me. That is a real death for me. That event gave us the opportunity to express our feelings and give that feeling, strong feeling, out.

 

[00:26:36.130] – Sam

Yeah, express yourself and to be listened to. Yeah.

 

[00:26:40.770] – Abdelhameed

It was a voice of thousands of voiceless people, my immigrants, waiting here.

 

[00:26:49.310] – Sam

As this episode and Refugee Week itself is themed around the word home, I wondered if you could tell me a little bit more about what a sense of home means to you?

 

[00:27:02.470] – Abdelhameed

Yeah, that I try to express in just what I said, how I felt when I have been uprooted from my homeland soil. It was not like just a normal departure. It was like a tree that is pulled or uprooted from homeland soil. So that’s why I said a tree. That tree, a tree that is uprooted from the homeland soil. Again, I said, a fish, that’s hooked from the water. To let people know how painful is that. It is immigrant life. Immigrant’s life is just like that, searching for another new soil to be planted. Like politicians say, No, you will not be planted here. You will be uprooted again from the UK to somewhere else, maybe Rwanda.

 

[00:28:20.830] – Sam

It is that being forced to be uprooted. Then I imagine that there’s no control over then where you can plant your soil? Does that really affect your sense of having a home, whatever that means, maybe belonging, maybe safety?

 

[00:28:46.890] – Abdelhameed

At the end of what I said is I am a new planet seeker instead of asylum seeker because people, to my own point of view, we don’t want to go back to Rwanda, but rather it is better for them to search for new planet where they can feel safe and legal.

 

[00:29:13.620] – Sam

Here at St Augustine’s, I know this has been a really important place for you and many, many people. What does St Augustine’s offer you? What does it feel like here?

 

[00:29:28.500] – Abdelhameed

It is a second homeland. I think since I left my country for the first time that I felt home, and it’s just like my homeland, this is St Augustine’s Centre. In St Augustine’s Centre, we are the immigrants made from all over the world and coexisted together. We learned from each other. We volunteered, participated, participated. People are very lovely, and we don’t even know who is the immigrant and who is the staff, who is white, who is Black. There is no such barriers, no walls inside St Augustine’s Centre. So I just wanted to call on all supporters to support St Augustine’s with money, with their time, with everything, so that they continue doing such a great job.

 

[00:30:41.380] – Sam

Yeah, it’s a really special place, isn’t it?

 

[00:30:44.350] – Abdelhameed

Very special It’s a special place for me and for everybody, all immigrants here. Even refugees who have gotten their status, they still come here to find life and and everything. I think it’s the best place for integration and to feel safe and legal. So thank you very much, St Augustine’s. They made us feel safe and legal. The only place that people can come to feel safe and legal.

 

[00:31:21.130] – Sam

Let’s hope that maybe we can all learn something from here and we’ll have more places where you can feel like that soon.

 

[00:31:28.110] – Abdelhameed

Hopefully, yeah. In the future. Hopefully, yeah. I think in the future. Hopefully, I find many St Augustine’s and the whole UK can become St Augustine’s

 

[00:31:39.240] – Sam

Yeah, that would be wonderful. A place, a whole country full of compassionate people and community and integration and connection would be wonderful, wouldn’t it?

 

[00:31:49.190] – Abdelhameed

Hopefully. Yeah.

 

[00:31:50.330] – Sam

Thank you so much.

 

[00:31:52.400] – Abdelhameed

Thank you. Thank you for being to voiceless people to the immigrants, to let them speak out, reach out. So thank you very much for that.

 

[00:32:04.150] – Sam

Oh, it’s my pleasure.

 

[00:32:06.450] – Sam

Next, we have Sofyane. Sofyane is a beautician and influencer who had his own business before coming to the UK, including a hugely successful following on social media and YouTube alongside his physical business. He is part of the LGBTQ community, and this has been a big part of his story so far. I enjoyed a wonderful chat with him about the theme of home and how this features in his life. Welcome, Sofyane. It’s lovely to have you here.

 

[00:32:34.470] – Sofyane

Thank you so much. My pleasure.

 

[00:32:36.270] – Sam

Can we just start with your thoughts around home? What does home mean to you?

 

[00:32:42.610] – Sofyane

To me, the meaning of home is the place or the house or the place or the environment where you feel safe, where you feel that you belong, where you feel like a human being. That’s it. And this is the thing that here in the UK, I always talk about I’ve never felt home like I do feel here.

 

[00:33:03.970] – Sam

So you feel supported here and that you can be yourself?

 

[00:33:07.700] – Sofyane

Yes, I feel like I’m home more than I used to feel when I was in the place where I was born or where I had lived for a very long time. Just by being here, I feel like home. I feel with my people, with my family. I feel safe. I feel supported. I just feel like a human being, as I said.

 

[00:33:24.450] – Sam

Oh, that’s so important. And it makes me really happy to hear that. 

 

[00:33:29.310] – Sofyane

Thank you so much. I’m happy as well. Thank you so much.

 

[00:33:31.420] – Sam

Great. I know you’ve had challenges and struggles around feeling at home. Can you tell us a little bit more about maybe why you weren’t feeling at home in the place you were born or those sorts of things and what that’s meant for you, if you’re okay to share that?

 

[00:33:51.270] – Sofyane

The struggle with feeling home came with the fact of being a part of the LGBT community. And where I was born or where I had lived before wasn’t a place to accept me as a person just because of who I am. So I always struggled to just go out, to just live my life as a normal person, to do things that everybody does in their life, even with school, with work, with basic things. That’s really a thing I had struggled with before, where I was born or where I used to live. That’s why I’m telling you the feeling of home is something I feel while being here, because I haven’t felt that feeling before.

 

[00:34:41.230] – Sam

Yeah. So you feel now that you’re here in the UK that you can be yourself. You can present yourself in the way that you are and not have to hide. Would that be a way of describing it?

 

[00:34:53.430] – Sofyane

Yeah. You don’t have to hide. You can live your life as a normal person. You can just wake up in the morning, go to the supermarket, and nobody’s looking at you or nobody’s saying bad words to you just because, I don’t know, your voice is this way, or you walk this way, or I don’t know, the way you look, or maybe they have seen you somewhere on social media. Yeah, that’s the thing.

 

[00:35:19.640] – Sam

Yeah. I’m so pleased to hear that you’re finding that here in the UK. In terms of processing that, that must be a… It’s a very difficult thing to have experienced. I wonder if there’s anything… I know your work is very creative, and I met you through the Creative Writing Group here at St Augustine’s, but I just wondered if there’s been anything in your life that’s really helped you process those very difficult experiences that you’ve had and are also giving you newly found inspiration or support here in the UK. Is there anything that you’d highlight around that?

 

[00:35:57.120] – Sofyane

As you mentioned, processing that was really, really difficult for me. So I didn’t really realise how difficult it could be before arriving and starting my new life. But when I just got here, I started feeling like I lost my past, I lost what I… I lost everything that I had worked really hard for in my life. I’m starting from scratch, and my life is really difficult. And I lost hope. I don’t see the light anymore. Anymore. So I really had to get some support, like mental health support, or to put all of that out in a creative way. 

 

And also because moving here started my life from scratch, as I said, I didn’t have much to do. I didn’t have friends, I didn’t have any access to other hobbies that I like to do creative things. And here I’m involved in some activities, like the creative writing, that really helps me a lot to write in a good way about how I feel and And in a way that’s easy on me. It’s not really that difficult as if I was writing by myself. So it is really helpful. We also have a fashion project that I’m involved in that will be in September, so we’re working on it. And so many other creative things here at St Augustine’s.

 

[00:37:16.930] – Sam

Great. So you feel like you’re finding some creative avenues to rebuild? Would you say rebuilding?

 

[00:37:23.670] – Sofyane

Yeah, step by step. Step by step. I’m finding new interests, other creative activities to do, to restart, or as you said, rebuild.

 

[00:37:33.410] – Sam

Find that home, create home, I suppose. Would you say that that’s what’s happening?

 

[00:37:39.500] – Sofyane

To make that feeling stronger and to make some connection, friends, and feel the belonging more.

 

[00:37:51.950] – Sam

Yes. Just to finish, I just wondered, just on that point, maybe what your hopes and dreams are for the future. Is there anything Anything specific?

 

[00:38:01.840] – Sofyane

The only thing I wanted just to continue my life, not start from scratch. To just continue what I had built before to what I had worked for before and do things that I love and feel like I’m with my family, with friends at home. That’s the feeling that I really want so bad.

 

[00:38:21.570] – Sam

Brilliant. I’m pleased to hear that you sound like you’re on that journey of that being a reality here.

 

[00:38:29.330] – Sofyane

Yeah, I’m trying.

 

[00:38:30.700] – Sam

Yeah, absolutely.

 

[00:38:32.640] – Sofyane

I’m going to be there.

 

[00:38:33.890] – Sam

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on our podcast because we really appreciate it. I think this theme of home is important, isn’t it? Good to talk about.

 

[00:38:43.030] – Sofyane

It is really important. It’s something that I want to explain so bad, and sometimes I don’t know how to just tell people that. Because sometimes I tell my friends, I feel home now. I’ve never felt this before. They start laughing, they don’t get it. But you won’t get it because you weren’t in my situation. But it’s really important to talk about it. Thank you so much for having me. It means a lot to me to be able to express myself and to talk.

 

[00:39:09.770] – Sam

It’s our absolute pleasure. Thank you so much, Sofyane. It’s great to chat with you.

 

[00:39:13.860] – Sofyane

Thank you.

 

[00:39:15.420] – Sam

And finally, we have Hina, with the most beautiful and moving poem that she wrote with a fellow writer, Faith, called Home. Hina is very proud of being an asylum seeker. She describes asylum seekers as dream achievers and freedom fighters.

 

[00:39:32.220] – Sam

In her words, they are not victims, they are warriors. They fight the traumas, the fear, anxiety, stress, worry around acceptance and how they will be received, the rules and regulations. She says they wear this as an anklet, not a chain. And she believes that one day they will be freed from the cage of rules and regulations, breaking the stigma of asylum seekers, feeling the freshness of the air beneath their wings.

 

[00:40:00.090] – Hina

A conversation between thoughts of fear, (him), and reality and hopefulness, (her).

 

Home.
Her: Home is where heart is, so I am told. It’s where we share our laughter and where we shed our tears. Home is where the heart is, a place of warmth and light.  

 

Him: Home is an idea I easily carry and move around with depending on where life throws me in at that moment. And that moment, home becomes a journey of a thousand miles to the unknown, where no stench of death from wars.  

 

Her: It’s where we find our purpose and where our soul take flight. Let us fly up high to the clouds of wisdom and touch the sky. Make this world a better place, a place called ‘Home’. 

 

Him: This was it. I bleemed, home is finally here. But no, here home was the feeling of craving for acceptance, acceptance to belong. 

 

Her: heal yourself and heal the world. Come hold my hand, praising our dreams, a place of dreams of hope, built from bricks of love, prosperity and dignity! 

We are living, You, Me, and Us. 

 

Him: But! but Home became limbo, I waited for my status, I begin pitching tents. 

But this was not home either, they said, ‘Home for you is Rwanda. ‘ They told and they said.

 

Her: holding his hand and smiling. 

Come and cherish this home and loved ones, and hold them close each day. For home is where the heart is, and it’s where we long to stay. 

So let us be kind. 

For we never truly know

The struggles and the battles others undergo. 

For our human journey, we all need love and grace. 

Kissing his forehead, home is where heart is, and it’s where we long to stay.

 

(in Hindi)

Ghar sy nikle the hum

Leke Kuch khwab…..

Dhundnee apni Zindagi ke jawab.

Kahan socha tha mushkil Hoga itna Safar…..

Har pal Yaad ayega apna Woh Ghar,

Apni sy due bitaye lamhon Ka kese karenge ab hisab.

Ghar sy nikle the hum leke Kuch khwab!!!

 

(English translation)

We left home with some dreams…

Finding answers to my life.

Never thought that such a difficult journey would be…

Every moment I will remember my home,

How will I now account for the moments spent by my own self.

We came out of the house with some dreams!

 

Them together, holding hands in dignity and respect: 

Whenever in life we may roam, 

This is our place, our very own place, 

The place we call ‘Home’, our very own home.

 

[00:43:32.040] – Sam

It’s time to wrap up another episode of Calder Navigation. And as we do, we want to express our gratitude for joining us on this journey through Calderdale’s stories. We hope these conversations have moved you and reminded you of the power of human connection. 

 

Calder Navigation is part of the Welland Activator Project, aimed at combating loneliness in Elland and Calderdale. A massive thank you to our funders, Calderdale Council, Culturedale, and Reaching Communities from the National Lottery Community Fund, empowering us to continue our mission of fostering connection and combating loneliness through projects like the Welland Activator. A big thank you to Untold Creative for production support, too. 

 

Remember to subscribe to Calder Navigation on your podcast app, share it with others, and please leave us a review. Keep exploring and connecting. Until next time.

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