I’m a refugee, get over it!
T-shirt printing workshop for refugee women and children from Afghanistan
Amal recently supported a T-shirt printing workshop led by Bradford artist Mussarat Rahman for newly arrived Afghan families living, for now, at Cedar Court Hotel. The group, supported by Horton Housing Association, had requested a workshop specifically for women with young children. Keeping it light and accessible was the goal. Mussarat’s experiential printing workshop was the perfect fit, providing an opportunity to explore creative outlets while addressing issues such as migration, belonging, journeys and social acceptance.
As the session began, a few women hesitantly joined, willing to try something new. Twenty minutes later, the room was packed, and we had run out of T-shirts! The participants wanted to create more than one to give to their family and friends. Everyone was suddenly animated, the children and women playful with their use of colour and the words they chose to convey their messages. During the session, guided expertly by our brilliant artist, the strong ecology of support that existed among this group was evident. Women described their collective experiences of Bradford so far, as well as the lives they had left behind. This served as a reminder that these sessions provide insight and opportunities for Amal to learn something new and to create more opportunities for refugee families.
Later, when our Bradford Community Engagement Manager caught up with the group facilitator, it was inspiring to hear that she had received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the workshop participants. Much more had been gained than T-shirt printing skills in those couple of hours. In the strange in-between world of life in a hotel, it had been a chance for this group to celebrate their own sense of community and forge their identities for themselves – “I’m a refugee, get over it!”
This workshop was part of Amal’s Creative Visualisation Programme. This allows community participants to take part in creative taster activities, encompassing a variety of art forms and giving them an opportunity to participate in activities they do not often, if at all, have the chance to experience. We speak to people about what they might be interested in trying and then work to pair them with local Muslim artists who can provide an opening into that creative practice. The hope is that this will lead to more regular and fulfilling engagement, that it will seed the unleashing of a creative potential that might otherwise go unexpressed.
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