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The Wordart Gallery

On this page we showcase collections of videos, recordings, word art, photographs, and drawings submitted to this project by contributors from many parts of world. They use any medium and means accessible to them, mostly smartphones, to communicate their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Contributions are all from asylum seekers and refugees from many parts of the world.

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WordArt

Poems for Kuchingoro

Poems By Fegor Lois Onoworemu

Bio: Fegor is a volunteer teacher at Sharing Prosperity Primary School, New Kuchingoro IDP Camp. She is a passionate teacher and counsellor who is dedicated to cultivating supportive, stimulating, and inclusive environments that allow students to reach their fullest potential. Fegor has been able to provide exemplary guidance and ensure no student is left behind. She has over seven years of teaching and counselling experience, and the ability to contribute positively to the growth of any organization, as well as the willingness to learn. Her goal is to care for others and bring out the best in them. Fergo wrote this poem both for herself and also for the children she works with in the camp.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Take me back

Funmi wrote this to express her sense of loss and disconnection under lockdown. She was a headteacher in a Nigerian school before she came to the UK and has worked hard since she arrived, becoming active and deeply involved in lots of different community groups. She is currently studying for a Law degree at University of Wales, Trinity Saint David on a Sanctuary bursary. Under lockdown the meetings and connections are now online and despite Zoom she is feeling isolated again.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Poem of the day from Dino

Poem of the Day from Dino (not real name) Algerian undocumented man

Original in French 

Translated by Helen Hintjens

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Naked Truth

This is an extract from Vicky’s diary. She is an undocumented migrant currently living in the Netherlands.

Diary entry 30 May 2020

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Be thankful to be alive

This is an extract from Vicky’s diary. She is an undocumented migrant currently living in the Netherlands.

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Poem by Dino

The poem was written in French and translated into English. It was written in the second Dutch lockdown, as curfew was introduced, January 2021. Dino has been undocumented in the Netherlands for decades. He has given up all hope of regularisation.

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I will come back

Selina is a 75-year-old refugee. She has had spent over 18 years of her life in UK. She recently won the battle to stay legally in this country. She was homeless for a long time and survived because of the support she received from local charities in Swansea. Her mental and physical health deteriorated dramatically during this battle.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Let me live today

‘I felt a bit lost and depressed and then realised that I’m worth it!’

This young person is a failed asylum seeker who has been waiting for 8 years with her mum to gain her status in UK. She completely missed on education, work experience and ultimately her friends. She grew up in this country, but she was never able to do what other kids at her age are doing. She is deeply stressed but she reminds herself how worthy she is. She tries to distract herself with many other skills however she often feels drained.

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They let us go and we hugged each other tighter

This oil pastel picture was created by Afghani refugee and feminist Sweeta Durrani for International Women’s Day 2021. She entitled it ‘They let us go and we hugged each other tighter’ to demonstrate the love, and power of women’s networks of support both in Afghanistan and the UK – and also the world..

“This art marks International Women’s Day 2021 #IWD2021. We #ChooseToChallenge the hostile environment created by the UK Government.

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A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

“When the government imposed a Lockdown, I started sending a message to all my employers, requesting them that they pay me even half of my wages per hour if they decide not to allow me to come their house to work. I was surprised that only three of my employers had responded differently. Sad to say, the rest didn’t respond, though, they saw my message.”

1/3

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A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

2/3

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

A domestic worker negotiates with her employers

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

3/3

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

I’m broke, Mother

This was shared by Joy, a migrant worker who is currently living in the Netherlands.

“My daughter, who worked as a cashier in a fast food restaurant, lost her first job after a few months due to Covid 19. Since then she spent her own savings to buy personal needs she wanted. So she decided to do a creative way to earn some money during the pandemic by holding an on-line raffle draw. The prize was her own Michael Kors bag that I gave her as gift for her graduation last year. When I learned it, I called and asked her why. She said, I am broke, mother, and I need to survive!”

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Gold and Wood

This was sent by Dino, an undocumented man from Algeria, in The Netherlands for most of 25 years by 2020. Dino is not his real name.

Motto of the day
Some people look like gold, where others, in your eyes, are only worth a piece of wood. But there comes a time when you are close to drowning in the ocean of the trials of life, and you realise that piece of wood, which you instinctively cling to, is more useful and more precious than all the gold, which would only sink you deeper.
Greetings
Dino (not real name)

Subject: la devise du jour (the motto of the day)

certaines personnes te paraissent comme de l’or , tandis que d’autres ne valent , à tes yeux pas plus qu’ un morceau de bois .mais il arrive un moment ou , près de te noyer dans l’ocean des épreuves de la vie , tu t’aperçois que le moreau de bois , auquel tu t’accroches instinctivement , et plus utile et plus précieux que tout l’or qui ne serverait qu’à te couler d’avantage

salutations Dino

11.11.2020

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Bitter coffee and burnt bread

This is a story written under lockdown by an Afghan refugee about losing a father. It reflects her own sense of dislocation and loss, separated from her family and isolated in her new country.

On a cold, snowy, foggy winter morning a little girl, near a wood-burning stove, which had been set on fire like a red boar, was warming her little hands. And she enjoys the pleasant burning of the wood like her mother’s embrace, it made her feel safe and secure. The rustling sound of papers that her father was eagerly looking for could be heard from behind. The girl felt that her father was late, he had to leave the house sooner. Although she did not know what he was looking for, she wanted to help and create a miracle with her small hands. How great it would be if she could find the lost paper. She wanted her father to feel joy and give him a gift, albeit a small one. As she approached him, the papers scattered onto the ground. Her father raised his head and his military hat fell on the girl’s shoulders and then fell to the ground. She panicked, fear gripped her, stopped her from moving. She was stuck for a moment. Her father bent down and found the paper he was looking for. Without saying a word, the father took the hat and put it on his head. The mother’s voice shook the girl’s stunned body again, saying: “Go with your father, to buy bread from the bakery.” The father put a cigarette in the corner of his mouth and with the smoke coming out of it opened and closed his eyes halfway in pleasure. The girl accompanied her father to the bakery. The father wrapped warm, fresh bread between the newsprint and handed it to the girl. As soon as he wanted to leave, he placed his heavy hands on the girl’s small, childish shoulders and gave her a warm kiss on the forehead, playful said, “pader-jaan, go home soon it’s getting cold” The girl laughed lightly and went on her way. The girl went to turn the door handle and involuntarily turned her head and eyes to follow her father. He turned to the right side of the alley and disappeared from sight. Still, years later, the black boots of her father are still lying in the snow. She can still hear the sound of the crunching of snowflakes underneath his heavy, steady footsteps. The father has been gone for years. But the smell of bread, the burnt smell of the sides and corners of the bread, the traces of cigarette smoke left in the air behind the broad and masculine shoulders of her father. She feels it all. The little girl drinks bitter coffee to remind her of the bitter smell of her father’s cigarettes, the bitter smell of burnt bread, the intersection of her frightened eyes and her father’s warm kiss in the scorching cold of winter. Sweeta Durrani

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

Poem on Life

In this poem a highly qualified refugee from Pakistan writes of her isolation and loneliness under lockdown lamenting that she is unable to develop her potential.

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Facing the elements in a cold covid climate is facing change

by Carlos Ibarra-Rivadeneira Another year and still in COVID lockdown. Riding my bike is, for me, the best option for staying active. But cycling during winter in Wales teaches me many different lessons, especially when one cycles and sees the same locations day after day. As the weather changes so do we. One day warm and rainy and next day bitterly cold and sharply chilling. Why go out in the bitter cold and feel discomfort? What have we to gain? Everything, I say. Determination to face the elements, to bear whatever weather comes, to brave life’s ironies.

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Contrast

During the dreary, cold grey winter months, when nature brings us rare and beautiful moments, like an impressive, stunning, unexpected sunset, the contrast offers us the chance of a moment to reflect on and appreciate what we already have as well as what we wish for.

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Are you scared?

A different perspective on wearing face masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in public places or at work. Refugees are forced to leave their homeland due to threats to their lives. Therefore, they are always anxious. This refugee, who is also a key worker, feels good about wearing a mask. It’s not just a protection from the virus but from other possible threats – even threatening looks or aggression because of the colour of your skin. When the world is in lockdown, it’s the safest moment to go out for refugees and asylum seekers.

Click through to view all of our contributions, each with an interesting story to tell.

It’s so rare that refugees have a real and present platform to express themselves fully and without constraint. This project is not just about asylum seekers or refugees it’s an archive that is being co-created with them and for them. It’s a living archive that will always remain and remind future generations of this very strange moment in time and it will show them how people suffered but also how they worked together to gather and collect these stories of their lives – it’s a living museum.

Sophie De Marco 🌈

Asylum Seeker & Refugee Advice Worker, Asylum Rights Programme

Ethnic Minorities & Youth Support Team Wales (EYST Wales)

Regarding my hopes and dreams, my dearest wish is for the whole world to enjoy peace and safety, ending all wars, and for every child in the world to have the right to life. And my dearest wish for our beloved Syria is that after so much devastation and destruction of our homes, our lives, our history and  our culture, that we will be able to leave a Syrian footprint in this world to show the true extent of our culture and our love for the world. And finally, I wish to integrate Arabic and European Culture in my next artworks and I thank this project for supporting me as an artist.

Hassan Al Tabbaa, Graphic Designer, Painter, Sculptor

So many families have had to choose between phone and food during lockdown. Without access to the internet children miss out on schooling, doctor’s and solicitors cannot be contacted, families cannot stay in touch and social isolation has a devastating impact on mental health. This is digital poverty.

Thanuja Hettiarachchi and Kelly Wearing, Asylum Rights Support Workers

Moria Camp, Lesvos, Greece

Photos by journalist Katy Fallon, who reported on the destruction of Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesvos in September. The graffiti ‘Human Rights Graveyard. Welcome to Europe’ sums up the grim reality: tens of thousands condemned to misery in prison-like conditions, just because they want a safe and better life.

Diary reflection on Time

Vicky’s hand-written diary entry dated 21.06.2020 starts by asking us as readers to: think about what you really care about. She ends with:

Now is the time and chance

It’s never too late

Don’t forget to always visit yourself.

Helen commented: The effect is pretty poetic. Something between prose and a poem, perhaps.

Thank you NHS and frontline workers

“My daughter who is staying at home and is unable to go to school due to Covid-19 has seen this poem somewhere online and thought she would write it down and colour it. She has been inspired by the hard work of all frontline workers and told me that she wants to be a nurse when she grows up so she could look after people”.

Eid celebrations in Corona times

The 2020 festival of Eid-Ul-Adha (30 July- 3 August) was scuppered due to last minute government lockdown policy in parts of Northern England – home to many of the largest Muslim populations. The announcement was made just two hours before Eid celebrations. This meant that for many Muslims Eid celebrations were cancelled, leading to much disappointment. So why the government left it so late unclear – like many of their policies.

World view challenged

Sergio is a black American citizen but born and raised in Venezuela. He migrated looking for a better future for his family. He is a mental health professional and reflects about COVID and lockdown impact in his clients specially BAME communities.

Thursday Clapping found us new friends

“It was a good experience for me. Before the pandemic I didn’t have any idea about my neighbours. Now we are clapping NHS each Thursday, and while clapping I met with my neighbours. Each week they prepare something for my children. One week squash and haribo. One week they gave colouring books and pencils.”

Out Out

A satirical combination; material of a well- known comedian and UK government policy. UK government communication has been the subject of fierce attack from many corners. In particular, the mixed messaging which has been very confusing for British citizens who by and large have abided strictly by the rules. However, as the lockdown has eased, we can see the effects of this mixed messaging in the behaviour of the public where some ignore while others stick by the rules. Further confusion has arisen as Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in their lockdown policies. As fears of a second wave rise, the government need to communicate more clearly.

Nation / Imagination

Pandemic graffiti seen in South Wales during COVID-19. This project shows how our imagination has been unleashed during lockdown. Living with the anxiety of uncertainty and more time on our hands has forced us to think about our lives – past, present and future. But it also makes us think about how we live together and how this virus transcends national borders and how we need global solutions more than ever. Narrow xenophobic nationalism helps no one.

This is not Europe: an apology

On the external borders of Europe, tens of thousands of refugees’ lives are suspended in limbo while they await their asylum claims to be processed. Greece, Italy and Spain have had to bear the brunt of pitiful European migration policies while European Member states, with few exceptions, turn a blind eye to their problems. The European Union was set up to espouse certain values. The Europe that is keeping refugees caged like animals in camps like Moria is not the Europe envisaged when the EU was set up.
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