The City of Refuge was made to tell the stories of the three hundred Syrian Refugee families living in El Cajon, California. This documentary narrates our recent visit and we wish to raise awareness around the ongoing refugee crisis. According to state data, San Diego has welcomed more refugees than any other region in California. Most of them come from war-torn Syria: some leaving life-long friends, others leaving their own mothers, fathers, children, all leaving their homes.
Throughout our journey, we were able to meet refugee children and their families, one of these families invited us to their home. At first, it was overwhelming, our limited knowledge of Arabic did not prepare us to carry a conversation. We were introduced to each member of the family, and Hatem, our guide, helped translate and pitch the idea to the family.
Asmaa, the mother, was the first to agree, encouraging her children to participate. Although they were shy at first, they slowly started opening up. Notice their unwavering determination to speak up for themselves, their families, their Syria. Despite their tumultuous pasts, they strive to give back to the world, to teach and educate other members of society—to become part of something larger than themselves. The interview concluded with Asmaa, bringing a pot of Arabic coffee and although we were not used to the bitter taste, we were grateful for their generous hospitality.
It is upon us to play a vital role in not only welcoming but crafting relationships with these children and their families. Organizations like the Arab Youth Collective require us to take control and lend a helping hand. Whether it is through student-led workshops, teaching children how to read and write, or through community initiatives, AYC is currently one of the active forces in building the Syrian refugee community. MSA West’s Olympics event (5/22/17) seeks to give college students the opportunity to also help build relationships with the Syrian refugee community in San Diego.
A heartfelt thank you to the Arab Youth Collective for leading the initiative in providing resources to the Syrian kids and giving us the opportunity to meet and film these families.
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Shot on Canon XA10 / Canon REBEL T3I -- RODE NTG-2
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