SolidariTee Week of Action 2021
At SolidariTee, we recognise that knowledge is the first step towards meaningful change. That's why we started 2021 with a full week of action from 1st-7th February, bringing both students and non-students together in support of refugee rights. We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who got involved - scroll down to read about the events we held during the week.
Monday 1st February - Day of SolidariTee 2021
On our annual Day of SolidariTee, we encourage everyone who owns one of our tees across the world (all 30,000+ people!) to wear their SolidariTees on the same day. By doing this, we not only raise awareness of the injustices faced by refugees and asylum seekers, but also prove that we, as a movement, truly do stand in solidarity with refugees worldwide. As the saying goes, an ocean is nothing but a collection of droplets, and that's something we really stand by. One individual t-shirt may not be able to change the world but together we can, and will, make meaningful change for all those affected by forced displacement.
In the evening, we'll also be streaming live music and comedy on our main page, in addition to a talk on our work and the power of legal aid from SolidariTee's executive director Alexa.
Thursday 4th February 8pm - SolidariTee Pub Quiz!
Virtual pub quizzes are a SolidariTee favourite, so we couldn't not organise one during our week of action!
Throughout the week, our student volunteers will also be organising a variety of events, all held online or remotely. Despite the current pandemic, our volunteers are showing time and time again that with a little determination and creativity, anything is possible - from talks and panel discussions to sponsored runs and virtual cooking classes. Initiatives such as these are commonplace amongst SolidariTee teams throughout the academic year, but in this week we wanted to concentrate our activities such that all 750 of our student volunteers are working together, across campuses and borders, providing as many opportunities to join the fight for long-term change in the 'refugee crisis' as possible, no matter where in the world you are.
Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th February - SolidariTee Conference
Seeking Solutions to Injustices Against Refugees
Bringing together a diverse lineup of speakers, and covering topics from the media’s depiction of refugees to the impact of forced displacement on mental health, the SolidariTee Conference will provide an interdisciplinary, action focused weekend exploring solutions to one of the most pressing issues of our time. United by a commitment to refugee rights but with differing areas of expertise, our programme of accessible talks and panel discussions will allow people with all levels of prior knowledge to connect virtually.
Tickets are available now and can be reserved on a donation basis, with a £5 suggested minimum donation. 100% of the proceeds will be used to fund grants for NGOs providing legal aid to asylum seekers. We believe strongly that access to education should be without financial barriers, so if you wish to attend and this minimum donation would not be possible for any reason, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Several of our speakers have lived experience of forced displacement and seeking asylum, though we have also brought together NGO workers, academics, journalists and filmmakers from a variety of backgrounds, and are very aware that several other speakers are not among those with lived experience. Whilst we have tried to invite as many speakers with varied experiences as possible, we also did not want to reduce anyone to merely their experiences, to suggest that there is one singular refugee narrative, or to model any one way of accepting and honouring lived experience; this kind of tokenism is something with which we disagree strongly. We recognise that speaking about refugees and displacement without including those who have lived experience of forced displacement is problematic, and as such we wanted to emphasise the importance of continuing to centre refugee and asylum seeker voices wherever we can, both now and in the future.
Scroll down to view our speaker lineup and full schedule.
Saturday 6th February 7pm - Queens of Syria documentary screening
Queens of Syria (the documentary) tells the story of fifty women from Syria, all forced into exile in Jordan, who came together in Autumn 2013 to create and perform their own version of the Trojan Women, Euripides’ timeless Ancient Greek tragedy about the plight of women in war. Not one of them had ever acted before.
The Trojan Women Project has been creating joint therapeutic drama and advocacy projects for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Europe and the UK since 2013, and the documentary, directed by Yasmin Fedda, has won numerous awards worldwide.
SolidariTee Conference - 6th and 7th February 2021
Shelia is the executive director at A.Ss.I.S.T., a legal aid NGO based in Chios
Confirmed speakers include:
Anila Noor is a refugee-activist, TEDx speaker, and researcher based in the Netherlands. As an Advisor and expert consultant, she works with different institutions on designing engagement projects related to inclusion and diversity. She graduated from Erasmus University Netherlands and now holds board positions including at ENS and Ayslos, co-founder of European Coalition, and is a member of Kaldor Centre of Emerging Scholars Network Australia and core team member of steering committee of Global Refugee Led Network. She also initiated New Women Connectors, a movement mainstreaming the unheard voices of migrant and refugee women living across Europe.
Dr. Daod is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who grew up in Israel in a small Arab Palestinian village in the Galilee. He specialised in child and adolescent psychiatry and graduated from psychoanalytic school. In 2015, he flew to Greece for a humanitarian rescue mission where he co-founded Humanity Crew and has been working with refugees ever since.
Currently, he is an avid refugee mental health activist and researcher who has spoken in countless conferences and media outlets all over the world advocating for the importance of mental health support for refugees. In 2016, Essam and Humanity Crew were awarded "The Defenders of Refugee Rights Award". In 2018, he became a TED Fellow and Speaker.
Sophie Kloos is the Director of Asylos, an international volunteer network that provides country research for asylum procedures. Asylos matches one researcher with one asylum-seeker at a time, ensuring that their claims are substantiated with evidence. Sophie previously worked with the Programme Management Unit of the UNDP Joint Migration and Development Initiative as well as with Refugee Rights Turkey, where she offered basic legal counselling to asylum seekers. Sophie holds a MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and an MA in International Relations from Yeditepe University, Istanbul.
Nav Sawhney is the founder of The Washing Machine Project. Whether it’s building lifesaving cookstoves in rural India, being a trustee of an international development charity, Engineers Without Borders UK, building clean water systems for an orphanage in Namibia or volunteering his time at a local homeless shelter for migrants in London. He has always been passionate about helping others, with a particular interest in International Development.
Dr Mina Fazel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, and a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist in the Department of Children’s Psychological Medicine at Oxford University Hospitals. Her work focuses on finding ways to improve access to mental health services for children and young people, especially the most vulnerable populations. She has been working for over a decade developing mental health services for refugee children and is also interested in researching how mental health services can work within schools to reach and treat children who might not easily access services otherwise. In her clinical work, she is part of a team helping children and young people with chronic health difficulties and pain at Oxford Children’s Hospital.
Mary is a campaigner with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, a charity that provides immigration advice to people who would otherwise not have access to justice, and campaigns for a fair and just immigration system. Their vision is of a system in which the benefits of migration are celebrated and shared, with no community, migrant or non-migrant, left behind.
Tiara Sahar Ataii
Tiara founded SolidariTee in 2017, having volunteered as an Arabic/Farsi/French/ German interpreter in camps in France, Germany, and Greece. Executive Director until spring 2020, she oversaw the expansion of SolidariTee from her dorm room to the largest student-led charity in the UK. She is also the winner of the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs Award, the Diana Award, Vice Chancellor’s Award for Social Impact, and Undergraduate of the Year. She now works at the UN in humanitarian programming in the MENA region.
Tiara Sahar Ataii
Katy is a freelance journalist based in Greece, covering migration & social affairs, writing for Al Jazeera, the Guardian, and the Independent.
Mathilda Mallinson is a journalist and filmmaker specialising in displacement. She has worked in refugee camps in Europe and Africa, reported for the Financial Times and Evening Standard, and directed video campaigns for Choose Love. In 2020, she co-founded Refugee Media Centre, a network of displaced media spokespeople, and has since worked with the BBC and other national outlets to improve refugee source use.
Billy Holzberg is Lecturer in Social Justice at King’s College London. Billy’s research examines how the intensification of nationalisms across Europe is fuelled by sexual, gendered and affective politics. He has worked and published on the sexual politics of border control, transnational anti-genderism and the colonial entanglements of sexual violence activism. Billy holds a PhD from LSE’s Gender Department and has been a scholar of the German National Merit Foundation and a visiting researcher at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality at Columbia University in New York.
Phil is the Managing Director of European Lawyers in Lesvos (ELIL), an NGO that provides free legal assistance to asylum seekers on the Greek islands of Lesvos and Samos through its team of Greek lawyers and volunteer European lawyers.
Phil has been running ELIL on Lesvos for almost five years and, prior to that, worked in London as a lawyer for six years.
After a career in senior management positions with the Australian government (federal and local) and with non-government and activist organisations in across the globe, Sheila is now a resident of Chios, Greece. Sheila has a Bachelor degree in Asian Studies and post-career studied public policy and politics. Since November 2016, Sheila has been volunteering on Chios, initially with a response team and then working with local lawyers in emergency legal aid. In September 2018, she led the establishment and development of the Asylum Seekers Information Services Team (A.Ss.I.S.T.).
Charlotte Eager is an award-winning filmmaker, former foreign correspondent, novelist, and producer for film and theatre. Currently, she is working on an adaptation of Euripides’ Trojan Women titled ‘The Trojans’, with a mixed-gender cast of Syrian refugees living in Glasgow. Prior to this, in additional to extensive production, directorial, and writing credits, she was Executive Producer on the multi award-winning documentary ‘Queens of Syria’, which we will be screening during our conference; afterwards, Charlotte and her husband and co-producer, William Stirling, will be speaking.
Melis Omalar is a German-Turkish Journalist at Guiti News. She has worked with refugees in London, Paris, and Berlin in various roles.
Currently, Melis leads the English Team at Guiti News, where European and exiled journalists write and work together on each news story to bring a different, more diverse perspective to stories surrounding migration.
Matt Mahmoudi is a scholar, researcher, and organiser in technology and human rights, using critical digital ethnographic methods to examine the justice implications of digital tools developed to purportedly “integrate” vulnerable migrant populations. He co-founded NoTechForTyrants as well as Declarations: The Human Rights Podcast. In his day job, he leads Amnesty International’s work on banning facial recognition technologies and is co-author on the recently published Oxford University Press book Digital Witness.
Gunilla Hamne is a Trauma Tapping Practitioner, Shiatsu therapist, and founder of 'Peaceful Heart Network'. In 2006, alongside professor of psychology Dr Carl Johnson, Gunilla travelled to Rwanda and Burundi and developed 'Trauma Tapping Technique'. Inspired by the results, she helped to found Peaceful Heart Network with the aim of empowering survivors of war and genocide by teaching and spreading this powerful yet simple treatment to heal the memories of the past.
United Nations and TEDx Speaker Jaz O’Hara is the founder of The Worldwide Tribe, which raising awareness about the refugee crisis whilst also supporting those caught up in it through projects such as wifi installation, football tournaments, art projects, and much more. Writing for the Huffington Post and working for Amnesty International’s ‘Collective’, Jaz has worked tirelessly in camps across Europe and the Middle East to tell the stories that otherwise go unheard, driven by her own personal family history and gift for storytelling.
Abdul is a Syrian refugee based in London but currently in Hong Kong. He was the senior Syria researcher at Airwars between 2016 and 2019, where he tracked Russian and Coalition airstrikes in Syria. His recent work is on issues related to integration and identity of refugees, as well as being a visiting lecturer at LCC. His award winning podcast, Integrate That!, discusses issues that refugees raise but are not discussed in mainstream media.
Three days after arriving in Greece from Afghanistan in 2019, Zabihullah Jamili began volunteering with Fenix Humanitarian Aid, working as a translator, interpreter, eye clinic assistant, and dental assistant. Since then, Zabihullah has offered translation, interpretation, and cultural mediation services, helping people through the hardships, difficulties, heartaches, and traumas of becoming a refugee through his work as Coordinator for Translation and Cultural Mediation.
Moh is an asylum seeker from Syria, currently working as Project Coordinator of a brand-new computer lab on Chios. Moh launched the project with Action for Education in late 2020, developing his own digital literacy curriculum for asylum seekers and refugees. He built on his prior experience in Syria where he worked on several journalism projects, recording and reporting on the siege of Damascus and the events of the War. He aspires to formalise this experience in the future by completing a degree in data science, to use his skills to continue to support others.
Jodie Spencer is the Location Director for Action for Education on the Greek island of Samos and is recently involved with the advocacy group "Europe Must Act". She has worked with refugees in Greece for over a year, with previous experience in Skaramagas Camp, Athens. Prior to her work in Greece, she was a secondary school teacher in London and spent six months in Bangkok working for a child protection NGO.
Nour is an architect and computational designer who currently works as a Researcher and a Regional Liaison (MENA) at Forensic Architecture. Her role at FA involves conducting spatial research and using architectural tools to investigate violations of human rights. As a MENA liaison, she teaches FA research methodologies to collaborators in the region as a means of supporting grassroots activism. She is part of FA’s Evros team, which investigated various cases of violence and pushbacks against refugees and asylum seekers along the Turkish-Greek borders.
Dr. Siyana Mahroof-Shaffi is a London-based General Practitioner specialising in Mental Health. She travelled to Lesvos as a volunteer in October 2015 to assist with the medical needs of refugees in Camp Moria. Noticing a serious dearth of medical NGOs on the ground, leaving people without access to vital healthcare, Siyana decided that she couldn’t stand by while desperate people who had fled their war-torn homelands fell through the cracks. Thus, she founded Kitrinos Healthcare: a charity which is now serving thousands of refugees in multiple locations across Greece.