It’s Refugee Week this week, a great time to think about the importance of supporting people who are or have been persecuted, and to commit to a welcoming stance towards ‘others’ whoever they may be. I get the Tate Gallery’s posts on instagram – this week they have featured art from their collections made by artists who were refugees. They comment, “these works are a small part of what we stand to lose if refugees lose our support”. They go on to say that they “stand for a world that welcomes”. Borders and persecution and war and famine and injustice are hard issues – it’s easy for us living here to put our heads in the sand about it all. But how glorious and liberating to work at finding ways to be open, to welcome, to see the possibilities in something new, to overcome fear of difference.
In my life, I have had some very important friends who have been refugees – Mahshid, from Iran, and Arefa and Teyba (and their family) from Ethiopia. I have learnt some Farsi from Mahshid, was introduced to the beauty of Persian poetry, and have eaten fantastic Iranian food, as well as exploring the meaning of life, particularly in our 20’s and 30’s. Getting to know about another part of the world (and hearing first hand about the revolution in Iran) and seeing our many similarities as well as our obvious differences was (and is) very important to me.
Arefa and Teyba have featured in this blog before (and here and here and here) – they are fantastic, kind, generous, wise women whom it is a privilege to know. And more people to explore life with and work out how to live.
I feel so fortunate to have had these people in my life – whatever support we offer refugees is reciprocated big time, by rich and dear relationships with fine folk, in my experience.
(Here are some pics of art made (mostly) by people who were refugees) (click to enlarge)