Children create moving refugee film

Jasmine tree

Members of an after school club in St Fillan's have created a new animated film which examines the story of a woman's journey to Scotland

1st July 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

School pupils have created a moving film which highlights the plight of refugees.

A group of children, aged from nine to 12, have made a short animated film telling the story of a refugee escaping from Syria to Glasgow.

Under the Jasmine Tree premiered at the Refugee Festival last Thursday (27 June).

The 18 schoolchildren from St Fillan’s Primary School Migration After-School Club worked with a professional animator to create their stop-motion animation: 10 images for every second of their three-minute film. The children drew all the artwork, animated their film, and even created all the sound effects themselves.

Their starting point was meeting Syrian refugee Saffanna Aljbawi of Maryhill Integration Network. She read her poem about how she fled from her home with her four children and found safety in Scotland.

She said: “I wrote this poem to reflect upon my own story, and to clear any misunderstandings about refugees.

“The first time when I met the children, I thought they would feel bored with the subject of migrants, but I was surprised to see the opposite!

“I am really proud of those children. In my poem I’m trying to put my emotions into words. I like the way the film adds sound and colour to allow people to picture the story. I hope we can reach the listeners’ hearts through their ears.

“I can never forget the empathy and support of everyone who worked alongside me in this project. I would like to say thanks Scotland and many thanks to the people in Glasgow who offered the safe place to me and to my family.”

Christopher Divers, age 11, said: “I want people to realise how hard it is to leave your home and country and life behind, and come to a whole new place, having to start a whole new life. All the work that goes into it, and how little you have to go on.”

Sanwal Babar, age 10, explained: “I joined the Migration After-School Club to learn what’s really happening in the world. When I first heard the poem I felt quite sad. It was really touching, so we had to make a movie out of it. Saffanna deserves a smile and some human rights”

Teacher Monica Cohen set up the Migration After-School Club after volunteering at the Scottish Refugee Council. She said: “When I heard the Syrian refugee Saffanna reading her poem Under the Jasmine Tree at Maryhill Integration Network, I was blown away by her courage. I invited her to read her poem to the After-School Club. The children were extremely moved and we came up with the idea of creating an animation.

“I hope the film will encourage people of all ages to show compassion and understanding for refugees who have had to leave their family, friends and homes behind to find a safer place to live.”

Colin Chaloner, animator at the Glasgow-based social enterprise media co-op, said: “The children’s dedication to every detail was impressive.  They’re a really creative bunch.  One memorable moment for me in the animation workshops was seeing Saffanna teaching the children some phrases of Arabic for the sound effects of the film.

“My hope is that this film makes people stop and think about what it actually means to escape from the brutal war in Syria, leaving your home and your life behind, and travel to a new country like Scotland to start again from scratch. The images in Saffanna’s poem will stay with me for a long time.”