Tag Archives: summer of sanctuary

Sheffield NEEDS Lemlem

22 Jun

Thursday 21st June 2012 1pm, Sheffield.  People  gathered to bear witness to the gross injustice in the asylum case of Lemlem Hussein Abdu of Eritrea, 1/1/50 who is currently detained at Yarls Wood Immigration_Removal Centre, Bedfordshire.

Lemlem was born in a village in 1950 in what is now Eritrea   She was married at 12 and spoke Tigrinyan.  She lived a traditional life and was not able to read or write her native language.  Lemlem was surrounded by her family and friends. parents, children, grandchildren…  In 1978 her village was burned down.  Lemlem lost everything.  She fled.  She survived.

Lemlem’s story from then on is well documented – Ice and Fire Theatre Company have made an “Asylum Dialogue” http://iceandfire.co.uk/ of her life story and previous campaigns by the Sheffield community against the wrongdoing of the Uk Border Agency  have highlighted the details…  In 2007  Lemlem was deserted in London, with no money, no ID, no family, no friends, and no English with which to cry for help.  She was 55 years old, disabled and destitute.  

Lemlem came to Sheffied under an arbitrary dispersal order from the UK Border Agency: Against all odds, Lemlem  made a family: Lemlem made a home.

Lemlem is in detention for the third time in the UK.  The Uk Border Agency has booked flights to the Ethiopian capitol Addis Ababa for the third time, despite the fact that their establishment has now accepted that Lemlem Hussein Abdu is Eritrean by ethnicity, not Ethiopian.

Lemlem at demo apposing Eritrean Ambassador UK, Feb 2011

Lemlem talking at IT Club on Monday 18th June 2012 on subject of reporting to UKBA Tuesday 19th June 2012 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_MsrfLctuk&feature=plcp

Please contact the airline on their facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/flyethiopian – messages on their page will send shockwaves to the highest levels of their commercial sales team – it will hit them were it hurts, in the pocket.

They are a courteous and charming airline, and will be glad to hear your concerns about their customers and crew – airlines have stopped deportations before now.  Flight ET 701 to Ethiopia 21.00 June 24th 2012 Ethiopian Airlines, Heathrow – Addis Ababa.

Please keep up to date with campaign new and actions by joining the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/102878976433976/

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Please see Sheffield’s response to Lemlem being taken away from us:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APeHGS-NTmc&feature=player_embedded

Please keep trying for Lemlem, for peace, for love, for all of us

Happy refugee week Lemlem – Wishing you were not so terrified, brutalised, denied…

Sheffield Loves Lemlem

20 Jun

 

Lemlem is 62 years old and was born in Eritrea.  The village she comes from was a known support base for the Eritrean Liberation Front and consequently in 1978 her village was attacked by Ethiopian forces and burnt to the ground, leaving Lemlem with no surviving relatives.

Lemlem fled to Sudan and lived in a refugee camp, eventually achieving refugee status.  Finding herself with few opportunities as a refugee in Sudan, she applied for work as a domestic servant in Saudi Arabia and got herself a job with a family.  The family regularly visited the UK, and wanted to take Lemlem with them to care for their children, so they obtained an Ethiopian passport for her;

Lemlem is illiterate in both Tigrinya (native tongue) and Arabic (2nd lang), so never applied for, read or even held her own passport.  As Eritrea had gained Independence from Ethiopia in 1993 the passport was fraudulent in relation to her nationality at the very least.

In 2000, Lemlem’s employers visited the UK and took her with them. She had a fall and suffered a broken leg while looking after the family’s children:  She has never fully recovered. Her employers stopped paying her wages as she could no longer carry out some heavy physical tasks.  On a subsequent visit to the UK in 2007 the family abandoned her in a shopping centre with no money and no identification. She has sight and mobility problems.

Lemlem had no prior knowledge of the asylum system in the UK, but came to understand that she would need to register herself and file a claim for “asylum”, which she did.  She was refused.  Lemlem was sent to live in Sheffield, and despite her traumatic history and tragic absence of any living relative or friend, Lemlem threw herself into the Sheffield community, attending ESOL classes, conversation clubs and community groups with an optimism and generosity of spirit that amazed anyone that knew even the remotest detail of her past or current situation.

After her appeals against her refusal for asylum were turned down, Lemlem became destitute.  She became ineligible for any form of public housing or support; having nowhere else in the world to go, she became dependent on charities (notably ASSIST) and the goodwill and generosity of Sheffield people.

In July 2010 and again in October 2010 Lemlem was detained by the UK Border Agency, sent to a detention centre and flights were booked to deport her to Ethiopia, a place where she knows no one, does not speak the language and would receive no form of support.  She could not have survived there.  Thankfully on both occasions injunctions halted the removal orders and spared Lemlem at the very last minute.  No-one who knew Lemlem could bear the thought of her being detained again, never mind deported, so she did not return to the address from which she had been forcibly removed and did not report to sign at the UK Border Agency, the other location from which she had been forced into detention.

A fresh claim for asylum has been prepared for Lemlem by a devoted voluntary legal team.  Friends of Lemlem and those involved in previous campaigns were on standby for Tuesday 19th June 2012 when Lemlem would report to the UK Border Agency and re-register herself.

Lemlem spoke to Ian Nesbit at RASAG IT Club on Monday;

Lemlem

 

On Tuesday 19th June 2012 Lemlem Hussein Abdu, 62, Eritrean was detained by the UK Border Agency and sent to a detention centre.  She will be deported to Ethiopia on Sunday 24th June 2012, 9pm.

A protest will take place outside Sheffield Town Hall , Thursday 21/06/12, 1pm.  We will march to Vulcan House to protest outside the UK Border Agency offices.  They know we are coming and will be expecting a reasonable crowed and a bit of noise disturbance (they shut the curtains on previous occasions).  It is essential that this demonstration gets as many people as possible.

Lots of people will be busy at work and not around town, but if everyone could convince SOMEONE to go, it could make the difference.

Someone sharing the e-petition on facebook today wrote “AMIGOS,POR FAVOR: tirem um minuto para assinar esta peticao. E una historia distante para muitos de nos mas sera una assinatura que pode evitar uma sentenca de morte. Estejam onde estiverem, e isso que ira pesar. Va la, uma pequena contribuicao, um pequeno gesto mas una vida que se salva!!!”  – I wasn’t sure what it meant but Bing informed me that the last part means,” spare a moment to save a life.”

It really is that important.

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/groups/102878976433976/

City of Sanctuary

10 Aug

RASAG is currently working on several initiatives to expand the group and to take it to the next level.  we are working with a BBC journalist on a feature about the City of Sanctuary, where she will be using case studies to dispel the myth that asylum seekers and refugees come to England for an easy ride…  One of the RASAG members who has agreed to talk to the journalist is Lemlem Hussein Abdu, the Eritrean lady who was detained and had a flight booked to a country that she does not originate from, but was given a last minute reprieve in the form of an injunction that halted her flight.  The Manchester court granted the injunction at the last minute because a document was located and faxed from Saudi Arabia that proved that Lemlem was from Ertitrea, not Ethiopia, despite the fact that she had been issued with an Ethiopian passport (which is far from unusual as Eritrea was historically possessed by Ethiopia – the root of all of the war and troubles there in the first place).  With the help of key RASAG member and co-founder, Firas Sharefy, Lemlem will tell her story to the journalist in the hope that it will help give a greater understanding to the Sheffield community about the violence and persecution that people are subjected to before they take that enormous decision to flee their own country and seek asylum elsewhere.  Lemlem is yet to be granted leave to remain in the UK so the campaign continues.  Please go to Sheffield CDAS at http://www.sheffieldcdas.org.uk/, or contact SYMAAC at dignitynotdetention@yahoo.co.uk for more information, or write to Home Secretary Teresa May at Rt Hon Theresa May MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA to make your views known.

Another project involving people’s own stories that RASAG is assisting with is one mentioned earlier in this blog, Chris Stone at FURD’s “Shared Sense of Belonging” project.  Firas has joined the steering team for this project to help to guide the direction of the research that will take place.  This project promises to be very exciting. as it explores the sociological implications of what creates a sense of home, ownership or belonging for someone who has been driven from their own place of origin to a distant place that often does not welcome them, persecutes them and plunges them into a world of misinformation and uncertainty.  This project will particularly focus on how playing, watching and talking about football play a part in creating a sense of belonging and home in people from disparate backgrounds, but it will also examine the role of other sports and activities by way of comparison.   Several RASAG members are also interested in forming a five a side team to play football at FURD, which would be very exciting as it would be one of the few city teams that would be made up of people from different nationalities, rather than being a “DRC team”, and “Iraqi team” etc…  This unity between refugees and asylum seekers of different nationalities is one of RASAG’s great strengths.

More exciting plans in the offing include the creation of a RASAG identity card which would aim to give members a sense of belonging and ownership and could be used to enable them to interact with other community groups on an official level.  This idea came from the group when RASAG member Spag was asked to help with interpreting for an asylum case by Sheffield CDAS and was asked to show his RASAG ID – we had not considered the fact that  members would be offered opportunities based on their RASAG membership status before this point but it is a positive development.  We would also like to buy a laptop and some software so that we can start to create a database of our members and activities.

RASAG’s next event is planned to be a post Eid community meal where we will tell stories, perform music and provide attendees with food from around the world…  This event will be used to create a space for the group to meet with the wider community and to promote our activities and ethos.  We are all also looking forward to the end of Summer of Sanctuary celebrations planned to take place later this month – Summer of sanctuary funded our Legends project and in fact RASAG was formed to take part in this unique three month event.

Finally I am very pleased to announce that I have been offered the role of Communications and Administration Worker for Sheffield City of Sanctuary.  As the only member of RASAG who is not an asylum seeker or refugee I am keenly aware that this prospect is a real privilege and  an opportunity that is sadly not available to many of the group members who have hitherto been denied the right to work.  However, following the court judgment that asylum seekers who do not receive a decision within a set time should be given the right to work, I hope that this will be the start of many RASAG members finding gainful employment within the sector.   In my role at the City of Sanctuary I will be supporting a groundbreaking grassroots organisation  key to the sector of people seeking asylum in Sheffield.  I will be helping to advance the aim to promote a positive image of refugees and asylum seekers in the city and provide spaces for encounters between the community and the wider Sheffield population, which is also embedded in RASAG’s constitution.  Of course the work with RASAG will also continue.

As always, RASAG can be contacted of katelyn_mckeown@yahoo.co.uk, or at Learn For Life Enterprise on 0114 2559080.

Katelyn 🙂

Big Lunch!

9 Jul

Picnic fun by Jody Dorling

http://jddesign.yolasite.com/

The Sharrow Flea Market, Big Lunch and Chef of the Year Competition is almost here!  On Sunday 18th July RASAG will be holding an Eden Project Big Lunch at the Old Junior School, South View Road, Sharrow from 12-5pm.  Everyone’s welcome to come along, bring a picnic and enjoy the entertainments!http://www.thebiglunch.com/map/event.php?id=303b852f10a6dae210eceb97260f5792

http://www.facebook.com/katelyn.mckeown#!/event.php?eid=113963548647447

We will be providing a range of entertainments for the whole family to enjoy…  Sharrow Sure Start will be providing a craft table where younger children can enjoy making picnic and market stall themed collages throughout the day .  Musical Works will be putting on an African Drumming Workshop aimed at 8-13 year olds, but that the whole family can enjoy together between 2.30 and 3.30.  We will also have an open mike area for the grown ups to show us what they can do!

Elsewhere on the site the postponed Sharrow Chef of the Year (organised by Sharrow Shipshape) will take place between 12.30 -2.30 and local chefs will give cookery demonstrations and hand out samples.  http://www.sheffieldfoodfestival.com/event/sharrow-chef-of-the-year-rained-off-today/

At 4PM Side-by-Side theatre company wil be putting on a performance of “Comunicatease” in the main hall.  http://www.eventsheffield.co.uk/event/14990/communicatease-a-play-by-side-by-side-intercultural-drama

The flea market, that will mainly be made up of second hand stalls and car boots will take place between 11-3 pm.   Contact Jonathan on 01142508384 to book a super cheap stall – brand new stalls also welcome!

Pack up a picnic blanket and something to nibble – or just come along anyway!  Samples and salads will be handed out for free and there will also be food available to buy from local stallholders on the day!

Legends

29 Jun

As the Legends Project approaches the finale of this leg of it’s journey, appearances at Gleadless Valley and Sharrow festivals, it seems that the time to take stock is nigh…

Legends kicked off with a workshop on the 18th July and despite complications including court appearances, fork lift truck driving lessons, hospital appointments and illness, we had a marvelous time with singing, dancing and lots of storytelling!

Activities that we worked on included a storytelling circle where  we took turns in sitting in “the magic chair” and telling a story to the rest of the group – everyone chose their own tale and did this exercise by themselves – something many would not have felt confident to do at the start of the day.

The magic chair was the place to tell stories!

We also asked people to take a piece of flipchart paper to a quiet corner and write or draw something they would like to tell about.  This produced some fabulous results that formed the basis of our exhibition.  As I had hoped in the planning stages of the project, this allowed people to express feelings and ideas that reflected on the refugee and asylum seeker experience, with people sharing elements of the story of how they escaped their country and feelings about the injustice of their struggle for freedom.  There were also funny personal anecdotes and stories which expressed a dilemma, calling on the addressee to answer questions about morality and due cause…

We put the written stories on the wall and discussed them

We took a break to enjoy a meal together and stories continued to bound across the table, with magic amulets and language being particularly strong topics!

The next day some of the participants and our professional storyteller Roisin Murray set up a gazebo at Heeley Festival and entertained adults and children with our stories.

In the evening we went on stage at Assist’s One World Over Concert, where we enjoyed explaining the project, singing a song and telling some stories – the group felt great and really elated after this event!

On Monday 21st June the group entertained audiences at Central and Ecclessall library and we showed an exhibition of stories and photo’s which was of great interest to the attendants.

The exhibition of stories and pictures was well received in the libraries

After a week in the storytelling wilderness RASAG was out in force at the Heeley Institute Variety is the Spice of Life community lunch yesterday.  Nine participants entertained an audience of over 50 people with songs, stories and more stories!  City of Sanctuary’s film maker Andrew was there and we are all very excited to see the results of his filming.  This was our greatest event so far and the participants really came into their own, taking center stage and proving the personal growth that’s been achieved through the Legends project.  The aim of the Legends project was to give people a voice and to help them to interact with the community and it was a source of great pride to see this in action.

Next on the agenda for Legends are appearances at Gleadless Valley Festival on Saturday 3rd June at 11.50 and on Sharrow Festival’s Community Stage on the same day at 1.15.  If the Heeley Institute appearance is anything to go by, we’re going to take the crowd by storm!

Legends in the Library

16 Jun

Legends will be performed in Central Library, Surrey Street, Sheffield on 21st June 2010 at 12.30-1.30

We will perform at Ecclesall Library, Ecclesall Road Sheffield on 21st June at 17.30-18.30

Together at Devonshire Green

13 Jun

The launch of the Summer of Sanctuary  got a good old British summer soaking, but was a success nonetheless.  The quality of the acts was immense and we were treated to break dancing, flamenco and Temple music inspired Indian dance among other things.  Cool Runnings were there doling out tasty plates of curried mutton, chicken and ackee and saltfish, and FURD were in full effect with a TV showing the match and a much coveted football.   When the kids had finished decorrating the FURD gazebo with their rice and peas and I’d decided we were wet and muddy enough for one day, we set off leaving the die hards and volunteers to enjoy a kick about and some energetic rain dancing.  Unlike the sunshine, the Lord Mayor did put in an appearance, which I took as my cue to distribute the measley remains of the Legends flyers, with ubiquitous explanation of who RASAG are and what we are trying to do.

Although the Legends leaflet is now finished, to be revamped and reprinted tomorrow, I received in return a juicy stack of glossy flyers of the type RASAG can only dream of, for the Assist World Over Concert 2010, at which we are very proud to be performing, 19th June, Montgomory Hall, Surry Street Sheffield (http://www.cityofsanctuary.org/node/689)  Assist and Summer of Sanctuary’s Dan Stanley also gave me 15 free tickets for Legend’s non-performers to be able to attend the concert, which is really great.  The all-new Legend’s flyer is going to look great paired up with the World Over’s sleek number!

Togther was a positive event with a diverse mix of volunteers and attendees, all of whom came together to celebrate the Summer of Sanctuary’s ethos “Different Pasts, Shared Futures”.  Unfortunately, today’s typically British summer weather meant that it was more of a case of “Differents Pasts, Soggy Present”…  However, the Summer of Sanctuary and Refugee Week 2010 are now underway – so here we go, RASAG’s Legends coming soon!