Life Before I Was a Refugee

Jaz O'Hara, Founder of The Worldwide Tribe, an organization that uses creative storytelling to bring a personal, human perspective to the issues that people want to know about, while investing in grassroots projects that make a direct difference to the lives of those in need.

Having spent time in a refugee camp in the port of Athens, we asked some of the people we met what they did before they were labelled a ‘refugee’ and put together this film.

Our producer Megan Majd would like to introduce you to the people in this film:

“The man with the blue glasses is from Afghanistan. He lost his entire family and started crying to us as we interviewed him. As I was walking away he told me to wait and pulled out a big floppy hat from the back of his tent for me. He made sure I took it and wore it because it was a hot day.

The young girl is only 20 years old. She is from Iraq and was 6 months pregnant when we met her. She had no money for clothes for her baby. We later found out she had her baby safely in a refugee camp in Athens

The man at the end was fascinating, and very poetic. He told us how the Taliban was after him, how they came to his house and killed his brother thinking it was him. His father had called him to tell him he could never come back home. As if this wasn’t enough, he told us a story that has stayed with me every since. Not long after his brother was killed, he was praying in a mosque. Three terrorists came into the mosque and began shooting people in the back of their head as they prayed in a row. When they got to him, someone threw a rock at terrorists. While they were distracted, our friend was able to reach over to the man who lay dead next to him, and wipe his blood on to the back of his own neck – pretending to be dead. This quick thinking meant he was the only person in his row to survive. 162 people died in the mosque that day.

My message in this film is this – The people in this video are just like us. They are engineers, drivers, mothers, students. They lived normal lives until war and violence changed everything. They are now living under bridges and in camps, they don’t have a choice. But we do. We can choose to educate ourselves and understand where these people come from and what they’ve been through.

These are the faces of the refugee crisis."

The refugee crisis is not slowing down. The things that are causing people to flee their homes – wars, persecution, death – are not going away. But we must not allow ourselves to fall silent. We must speak up for the people who have lost their lives, and stand alongside those who continue to seek safety and freedom. We must raise our voices and make sure that these atrocities are heard. We cannot allow them to fall on deaf ears.

We must remember that these people are just that – people. They are more than statistics. Each and every single one is a life lived, just like ours. They are brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. They are doctors and gardeners and engineers and business owners and homemakers. They are just like us.

Please, keep talking, keep saying these things out loud and keep asking people to come together and show their support. Our voices will not fall silent.


A film by Finlay O’Hara
Original Score, Audio Editing and Mixing by Alex Hollingsworth
With Thanks to Megan Majd