Animated film captures moving story of refugee pupils’ journey from Syria

Animated film captures moving story of refugee pupils’ journey from Syria

The moving story of two Syrian students at Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre has been made into a powerful animated film to help others understand the plight of refugee families fleeing war and oppression.

The film had its premiere on 20 June at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, as part of an evening celebration for Refugee Week (18-24 June), delivered by Gulbenkian, in partnership with Kent Refugee Action Network

The experiences of sister and brother Rand and Omar, their parents and younger siblings, have been captured in animation by SCREEN31, Gulbenkian’s film-making group for young people. Rand and Omar were invited to meet with the group to develop the film and record their story which they had shared at a school assembly earlier this year.

The family experienced many hardships and horrors following the outbreak of civil war in Syria in 2011, including bombings, intimidation, violence, their father’s imprisonment, illness and starvation. Fleeing to Lebanon did not improve their circumstances as they then suffered further intimidation and prejudice, with the children often too frightened to go to school. It was only when the family was offered re-settlement in the UK, under the British Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme, that their fortunes changed and they could begin to believe in a hopeful future.

“Rand and Omar have flourished since joining Homewood School three years ago,” said Hannah Jones, Assistant Vice Principal and Head of World College at Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre. “They have taught us all how people can overcome even the most challenging circumstances with a positive attitude and sheer determination; they are a delight to work alongside.”

“We are really pleased that young people participating in SCREEN31 have been able to engage with Rand and Omar and they have worked really hard to do justice to their moving story,” said Eleanor Cocks, Head of Creative Learning at Gulbenkian.

Rand, who has recently passed her English as a Foreign Language exam with merit, helped to introduce the film at the celebrations with her mother and brother Omar watching proudly in the audience, along with the Principal of Homewood School & Sixth Form Centre Sally Lees.

Rand and Omar’s family is one of a number of Syrian families resettled in Kent by Ashford Borough Council. Rand and Omar are amongst eight Syrian students who attend schools within the Tenterden Schools Trust, which includes Homewood.

The film can be viewed on YouTube by searching for ‘The Story of Rand and Omar’.