For the past couple of years, the news has been inundated with horrifying stories about the refugee crisis. It has been hard to ignore the shocking images of the lifeless bodies of small children washing up on the shores of Europe, as families risk their lives to travel thousands of miles in flimsy boats with the desperate dream of living in a safer country.
Western media has closely documented the journeys made by people leaving their homes in countries such as Syria and travelling to Britain, but not a great deal has been reported on how those who survive the brutal trips actually manage to rebuild new lives for themselves.
Park Theatre, in Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, explored the stories of young Syrians who left their war-torn villages and started afresh in London.
On Sunday (January 22), there was an evening of music and storytelling at the theatre and the audience learnt more about the ancient culture of the city through Syrian eyes.
The tales had been sourced from true first-hand accounts and interviews and were voiced by young Syrians living in London.
The three main focuses were on Ali, who left Syria as a child and crossed the Mediterranean before seeking asylum in the UK, Massa, a young woman filled with nostalgia for her childhood in Damascus and Firas, a translator who dreams of opening an Arabic language café.
The readings took place in a very intimate setting. The evening had sold out and people were turned away due to a lack of seats being available. However, there were only a few rows of chairs set out in front of a very small stage.
The room was eerily silent as the stories unfolded and you could almost hear a pin drop as the audience, which included MP for Hornsey and Wood Green Catherine West, listened intently to the tragic tales of those who had endured so much heartbreak and devastation at such a young age.
The evening was harrowing and it was sobering to think that although these young people have new lives and have found jobs, permanent accommodation and even romance, London will still never truly be home for them. Secretly, they pine for their old lives, even though the place they used to call home doesn’t exist anymore.
For more information about the Syrian Voices project, visit: talkingsyria.com