You’ve got 20 minutes to pack a bag and flee your home. What do you take?
This is a question we ask primary school children on our workshops as part of the Tendring Junior Ambassadors programme – and to be honest, your iPad won’t keep you warm at night! We’ve spoken to more than 600 children in Years 5 and 6 in the past year or so about what it means to be a refugee, and this week we were at Mayflower Primary School in Harwich.
The workshops are some of the most valuable work we do, and we witness the children’s empathy and openness grow with their understanding. We show them how refugees are people just like us that have been forced to leave their homes, and the children have the opportunity to speak to somebody living here as one.
The kids always adore 17-year-old Zak – they ask him questions, he raps for them, and he chats to them about his favourite cars. He also bravely tells his own difficult story – fleeing his home, leaving school aged 11 to work and support his family, the death of his brother during their search for safety. And then being bullied at school when he arrived in the UK as a teenager. It’s for this reason that Zak wants to educate younger children.
One of the stories Zak shares is that when the bombing began in Zak’s hometown and his family had to leave, he took his goldfish to the castle and released it in the moat. Unable to take the animals on the dangerous journey ahead, Zak’s friends also took their dogs and other pets to the castle, hoping the UNESCO World Heritage site would be the safest place for them – the Krak des Chevaliers is a beautiful 900-year-old castle close to the city of Homs.
The children even learn a little Arabic, and they have a go at writing their names in Arabic script – which reads the other way around! It’s an impactful session, and the kids are always incredibly engaged.
Please share this to let teachers and school staff know about our educational workshops. And if your school might be interested, send us a message!