How does it feel to be a refugee? Hear their words

Refugees and migrants are living in derelict warehouses behind Belgrade’s main railway station. Photo: Miodrag Ćakić/Info Park

While the need to address the refugee crisis is at an all-time high, unfortunately so is the level of anti-refugee rhetoric and misinformation about refugees. Yet, they are ordinary people like you and me, who have lost everything. They’ve left their entire lives behind, often with just the clothes on their backs. They come here to start over. They want to make sure their kids can go to school. They want to work and they want to contribute to our communities. Just like us, they seek a life of dignity, freedom and security.

The I Hear You’ project is a video series that highlights the real life, word-for-word stories of refugees from around the world. It features 14 actors speaking and interpreting the words of refugees from Syria, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have fled danger and are unable to tell their stories publicly due to threats to their security.

Hear their words.

Margot Robbie - The law student

Margot gives her voice to a young student who cannot lose hope because one day she’ll be a lawyer.

She remembers her first year at college. She was 17. But then the college was bombed. She recalls her house, her teachers, her friends. She misses her best friend the most, she doesn’t know where she is now. More than the absence of comfort it is the lack of education that is the hardest for her. She would have liked to continue her studies, to present cases in court, to defend people in need of her help. She loves the law. She has lived in a refugee camp for four years, but she still hopes she’ll be a lawyer one day.

I want you to know that I’m very brave and courageous.

John Cho - The teacher

John gives his voice to a teacher who tells what it means to teach when there is nothing left.

There is no school in the camp. His young students have no books, no pens, no paper. So he improvises, uses simple tools, writes letters in the dirt instead of on a blackboard. Some children have been here in the camp for so long that they have never gone to a real school. When he spots a particularly bright student, the most difficult thing is to find a proper school so the child can continue to study. Sometimes, he manages to do it. He doesn’t lose hope. “One day, we’ll go back,” he says.

We are not like this, this is not us.

Gael Garcia Bernal - The poet

Gael gives his voice to a poet who lives in the memory of a lost love.

It’s been four years now but he remembers everything as if it had happened the day before. He was a student, but also a poet. Encouraged by a teacher, he began to write more, arousing the interest of a girl he was in love with. Although he read her his poetry he never revealed his feelings. He comes from a poor family, whereas hers is a very well-to-do background, he was convinced that they had no future together. Then one day he found the courage to tell her that all his poems were for her.

Sometimes the mind can’t function, and it’s the heart that takes over.

Time for solidarity

There are over 70 million people in the world today who have been forced to leave their homes because of violence, persecution and war.

Now is a time for solidarity and compassion, not a time to close our minds, our hearts, or our borders. We must stand together as one global community against the same intolerance and fear that drove so many people to flee their homes in the first place.