The Portsmouth ROOTS group is a community of local refugee and asylum seekers who help to shape the content of and participate in Journeys Festival International Portsmouth, produced by ArtReach. This wonderful group of volunteers worked together to create a modern definition of a refugee.
We are called many names, and given many descriptions, but honestly we all share the same name – we are – HUMAN. We have come from far far away. At times we walked, we ran, we swam. We have met people who took away everything we had, and also met people who gave us a helping hand. We are doctors, teachers, engineers, footballers, shop owners, hairdressers, carers, nurses each of us holding a skill.
We have arrived in this country cold and weary. We have lived in London, Cardiff and other places now finally Portsmouth. This is now our City, our home, our Safety. We can see the navy ships strong and mighty, as they pass by Southsea pier, reminding us of the protection and safety of the city. We recognise a place of worship as well as the signs we saw back home like McDonalds, Coca-cola, we can even buy our traditional rice and flour! We recognise the Red Cross emblem; they helped us along our journey and are in this city. We can do many things in this city; learn English, ride a bike, visit a gallery, theatre.
We are afraid of the Home Office. We are afraid of the letters we receive and the reporting we have to do at the police station. Our fear has no time limit as we all wait for a letter of good news or not from the Home Office. As we wait, our children grow up in this city, new friends we make in this city, new skills we learn in this city.
We are refugees, asylum seekers people running away from war, persecution, gender violence and many other unspeakable acts, but first we are humans, seeking a place to call home, a sanctuary with dignity.[