Maudie Fraser. “I am a Refugee”
Customers and staff were given a fascinating talk by Maudie Fraser. After volunteering on Lesvos, Maudie, a recent graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, joined a refugee family and travelled the Western Balkans route, living as far as possible as a refugee. Aiming to counter the ‘Otherisation’ of refugees by westerners through transgressing the familiar/foreign binary and placing herself in the position of the ‘Other’, she hoped to dissolve the notion of refugees as different – their own species, almost.
Her blog, I Am A Refugee (https://medium.com/@I.am.a.refugee), where she documents the journey subjectively and from a humanistic perspective, seeks to question such perceptions, as well as to provide valuable information and insight to aid efforts throughout the route.
Now back in the UK, Maudie is involved in numerous projects connected to this issue, and is participating in the campaigns for the EU to provide safe passage to Europe and for the UK to accept more refugees. She is continuing to raise awareness of the human face of the crisis and to challenge prejudicial ideas through her blog, by giving talks in schools, and in partnership with a conflict artist. She maintains contact with Lesvos and will be returning during the winter for more hands-on volunteering and to deepen her understanding of the ever-changing situation.
“I made some friends from Iraq today; twelve bombs land on their city daily. I made some friends from Afghanistan; they have lived beneath the barrels of ISIS snipers. Passing through the mountains of Iran, thousands of dead bodies formed part of the scenery, and thirty of their forty companions disappeared when rebel gunfire scattered the group. My new friends have spent years studying; they had friends, and family, and homes, and careers, and dreams. Now they have a rucksack.”
I am on a bus with 100 Iranian refugees, speeding North through Greece towards Macedonia. When written in so many words, this is a surreal situation for a 22 year-old from England to find herself in…
Where will we sleep tonight? Will we have shelter? Will we have food? For the first time in my life, I do not know the answer to these questions. My companions have faced this same unknown every night for the last days or weeks of their journey. “How many hours to Macedonia?” they ask, clueless and disconcerted. I wish I could answer this, and a thousand more questions they have, but now I, too, must simply sit and wait…