#8ways you can support refugees in your community

#8ways you can support refugees in your community

Amanda Bailly | June 20, 2017

Photo Credit: Matej Povse

Two years ago, I traveled 2,700 miles across Europe with a Syrian family that was fleeing the war in their home country. Sham, a single mother, and her two kids crossed the sea in an inflatable raft, and together we traveled from the Greek islands to the German capital, where they started a new life.

I filmed the journey, and the result is 8 Borders, 8 Days, a feature documentary that is both an intimate story of this family and an immersive experience of their journey. The audience travels with Sham, Yaman, and Lulu as they run across Lesbos, push through violent riot police in Macedonia, and cross through the cornfields into Hungary by moonlight. But there are also moments of lightness and humor, when you’re forced to remember that these are two young kids, much like your own.

I made this journey because I wanted Americans to see the consequences of closing our doors to refugees. Sham and her two kids had applied to be resettled to the US, but with no reply to their application, Sham decided that a smuggler’s raft was the safest option available.

“You know you are crazy when you get in this crowded raft, but there wasn’t any other option available," Sham said.

We are screening the film in communities across the country to bring people together to talk about how they can be welcoming to newcomers - and why it’s so important to our shared future to do so.

We have witnessed moments of incredible kindness and generosity from new groups of activated Americans ready to make our communities proud places of welcome. They might not make many news headlines, but they’re out there doing the hard work of making their communities safe and tolerant spaces. These welcomers are building bridges between newcomers and long-time residents and helping newcomers feel a sense of belonging in their new homes. In doing so, they are making their communities better places for all residents.

On World Refugee Day, we at 8 Borders, 8 Days are launching an #8ways campaign to support refugees. Together with our partner organizations, including Welcoming America, we have identified eight simple pathways for people to immediately support refugees. One of those ways is to host a screening of 8 Borders, 8 Days. We invite you to bring members of your community together around the topic of welcoming, and sign up to host a screening. We make it very easy and support you throughout the process.

It is because of the strength, courage and resilience that I witnessed in Sham and her family that we determined to bring their story to the cities and town in the US that will benefit most from hearing the personal stories of the people affected by the immigration debate.

Together, let’s make our communities places of safety and dignity for the families who were fortunate enough to be resettled here. Will you join us?

Screen 8 Borders, 8 Days in your community

Hosting a film screening can encourage discussion, bring people together, and mobilize supporters for your welcoming work. Welcoming Week is an ideal time to screen this film as a part of your broader welcoming efforts.

If you decide to host, you will also receive a discussion guide created by Welcoming America specifically for the film. You can also invite the filmmaker, Amanda Bailly, to speak in person or via Skype at your event.

To learn more, visit 8borders8days.com/host or email [email protected].

About Amanda Bailly

Amanda Bailly is an American independent filmmaker based in Beirut, Lebanon.  In 2015, she followed a single Syrian mother and her two kids from Beirut to Berlin when they fled with smugglers. The film, 8 Borders, 8 Days, premiered in April 2017 and is currently touring the country in film festivals and community screenings. She also produces documentaries and web videos for human rights organizations, primarily Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and the United Nations.  Previously, she was a producer for Human Rights Watch’s multimedia team in New York.  She studied journalism and Middle East history at Boston University.

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