Get Familiar: Gevluchte Kunst
Photography by Hugo van Noort & Olivia Witmond
Gevluchte Kunst is an initiative from Simone van Ommen, Anna-Sophie Kummer, Josephine Kleinendorst and Hasan Al-Raheem. They believe in creating a positive image of people with a refugee and/or status holder background and are achieving this by creating awareness about people with a refugee and/or status holder background.
How did all of you meet?
All four of us study at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam but follow different studies. Anna-Sophie and Simone both study at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute in the direction of Branding, Josephine does business administration and Hasan does engineering. We all started an external minor in September namely the minor Entrepreneurship at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, that’s where we met each other. The first thing that came up when we met, was that we wanted to create something where we could give back to society.
What is it that made you want to start this project?
When we met, we already had the intention to work on a social problem. When Hasan shared his story with us, we were so touched that this became our motivation. Hasan fled in 2015 from Iraq to Holland but is now fully integrated. He has come a long way to get where he is today, and he is not the only one. He felt alone, did not speak the language and could not come in contact with others in the country. He wanted to work, but didn’t get the opportunity to do so. You can listen to his story on our Gevluchte Kunst Youtube channel. The current media highlights a one-sided picture of this group of people. You need to hear the story of these people from themselves, to know what they have had to go through. We, therefore, find it necessary to give these people a stage and thus contribute to a positive image of Dutch people about this group of people.
What have you been able to do so far?
As we were put in touch with people in asylum seeker centres, we got to know more about them. problems they have to deal with. We noticed that we couldn’t solve those problems in the short term, but we could help them in another way. We wanted to create awareness about these people by spreading their stories. So that’s why we set up a platform on Instagram where we could give them a stage, so people could hear their voice. We also did this through a podcast, where. In each episode, we engage with someone with a refugee background. Here we go deeper into what they have been through, where they are now and what their future goals are. We also designed two products, to raise more money so that we can do more for them in the future.
How will this project expand once you are all done with school?
Although we have to go back to our studies, we believe in our vision and mission and strive to achieve this goal. Our biggest dream is that we can work together with the refugees to show their talents and turn this into art. Next to that, we hope that we can help refugees who just came into our country with nothing, with their migration process. Hopefully, in the future, we can expand to other countries, so we can make a change on a global scale.
Why do you believe these stories are typically overshadowed in Dutch Media?
We have the feeling that the media only shows this group as a problem and not as people who can contribute to our society. People mostly forget that they also built their lives in their home country, did the study or had a job. This group of people are often seen as "fortune seekers" because they left their unsafe country. They didn’t choose to leave everything behind. And most of all, we saw that people just want a little bit of help to feel welcome and build up their lives in Holland.
The media framed their stories, although they don’t know anything about it. Because the stories we share are not our personal stories, we feel it is important that people tell their own stories. We only offer a platform for these special and impressive stories. A lot of the people we meet do not want to focus on the negative things in their life. Although people must be aware of the facts, hope is a very good drive for them. future. It is very inspiring to see how they adapt and adjust to a new life.
Do you believe this is the case all over the world for migrants?
Yes, we heard from the people in the asylum seeker centres that they also experience this in. other countries where they have stayed for a short period. From our point of view, we live more and more in a society where people are focused on their own lives and opinions and look. away from other people's problems. We want our generation to open up more to other people, without being immediately prejudiced.
How would someone start an initiative like this in their community?
First of all, follow @gevluchtekunst to hear their stories and to know what else we are going to do. Next to that, it is very important to get in touch with the people. There are a lot of platforms that can bring you in contact with refugees, so you can find a way to do something for them in your community. It is important to open your eyes, listen to the people and get inspired. That is a small step you can take. We are all humans with different backgrounds and for that very reason, we can learn so much from each other.