Sand & Vision 2018 Sahrawi Refugee Project

By Olive Branch Arts

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How you can help us:

Please show solidarity with the Sahrawi by supporting our project & giving voice to a forgotten people. Choose an amount to Pledge & receive a Reward!

Every reward over £20 gets you a ticket to our legendary cabaret fundraiser on Sunday 7th October at Brasserie Toulouse Lautrec in Kennington from 6.30pm.

We look forward to seeing you then, but please remember if you can’t make it you can still donate (any amount welcome), share on Facebook/Twitter and/or send our project good vibes.

The Olive Branch Team 2018 are Becky, Emma, David, Matt & Jess & they work as volunteers, every penny raised goes directly to the cost of running our project.

A little bit of history:

Many of you know about the amazing work our artists at Olive Branch Arts have been doing in the Sahrawi Refugees Camps... here's a quick refresher for our regular supporters & an introduction & welcome to new friends.

Olive Branch Arts work creatively with refugee communities here in the UK and abroad, we are committed to building relationships across communities to promote love, dignity and care for all people who seek refuge. We have been creatively engaging with the Sahrawi refugee community since 2010; running annual youth-theatre residencies, working creatively and therapeutically with elders in the Land Mine Centre and with children and staff from the Special Needs Schools in the region.

In 2017 we launched our first photographic training on the camps for young photographers led by award-winning photographer Emma Brown. By offering participants a safe place to come together and learn new skills we aim to develop confidence in young refugees to enable them to visually document their own stories and reduce the isolation of a remote refugee community through the sharing of photography.

We are committed to bringing our participants stories back to the UK and Europe to enable them to be seen and heard by a new audience. We have to date exhibited our 2017 graduates work in Sahrawi Refugee Camp (Oct 2017 Smara Cultural Centre), London (Jan 2018 London School of Economics Refugee Week, Feb 2018 Trash Gallery, April 2018 South Wales University Storytelling Symposium & June 2018 Poplar Union), Thessaloniki (April 2018 PPLG Conference 2018), Helsinki (May 2018 Social Forum of Finland), plans are being made for Brussels (European Citizen Action Service). Three of our graduates have since been employed as official photographers for the Frente POLISARIO the political party of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

This years project:

We will run an intensive second level photography training for young people exploring the question “How do you photograph freedom?” Part of this training will include a creative/therapeutic exploration of feelings & experiences the young people hold whilst living in exile.

A variety of music workshops will take place including the establishment of a small community choir which will explore the sounds of freedom.

We will exhibit photographs from last year across the camp on public buildings & hold an exhibition & musical performance to showcase visual & audio responses to this years exploration of ‘Freedom’.

We already have our UK launch booked in as part of the global movement Fair Saturday.

The projects take the young people out of their everyday lives & offer some respite from an extremely difficult & challenging living environment. Our engagement shows them the outside world is interested and aware of their story and gives them a creative outlet to process their political and social experience. The Sahrawi strongly believe in the power of art & culture as a means of bringing their plight to an international audience and our projects arm them with the tools and skills they need to do this.

About Western Sahara:

Western Sahara is the last colony in Africa & the protracted territorial dispute between the Moroccan Kingdom, which claims sovereignty & the Polisario Front, the Sahrawi liberation movement that seeks independence. The majority of Sahrawi’s are refugees today in the South West Algerian Sahara, one of the harshest deserts in the world. Despite extreme hardships over more than 40 years in exile, the community has managed to build a democratically run nation in exile where women play a prominent role, defying Western preconceptions of Arab-Muslim societies. This community continue to live & fight for freedom peacefully, with courage, dignity & strength.

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Team Members

Becky Hall

David Stothard

Emma Brown

Jess Symonds

Matt Smith