Blog entry written by Shatha – volunteer, community leader and active member of our women’s group; and Lisa
On March the 12th we hosted in collaboration with The Feminist Library a day to celebrate International women’s day. On this day, we celebrated the collective achievement of the quilt and the Zine. The quilt was displayed in the South London Gallery. It was a proud moment for all refugee and migrant women in the SLRA community. The quilt is not only a reflection of the emotional and physical struggle the migrant women were facing during the lockdown but it also represents resilience, strength, and hope.
As a migrant woman who is going through the immigration process, I have always suffered from immense restrictions. When the lockdown first was announced, the isolation that I already felt had extended to physical isolation. Luckily, the women’s group provided another platform to keep us connected. During those challenging times, the zoom calls had become an essential part of our weekly routine. We had access to maintain the much-needed peer support, stayed connected, and learned how to cope with times of uncertainty. But most importantly, it created a safe space for us to reflect on our pain, struggles, and hope in a creative way. Each of the women, regardless of her background, presented a piece of herself. And thanks to the hands that sewed it together, we have the most diverse piece that represents togetherness.
On the 12th of March, we hosted a panel discussion to share these experiences with people interested in the stories behind the quilt. We aimed to create a similar atmosphere has we had in the our online sessions. Therefore, Tamara started with introducing one of our favorite games: ‘Who is in the room?’. She asked a question for example who lives in South London and everyone who does, needs to stand up. At the end, some of the participants even asked some questions. Then Shatha continued with sharing our experiences of the women’s group on Zoom. Everyone closed their eyes and Shatha guided us through a ‘normal’ women’s group session. You can read this here. After this introduction, the panel discussion facilitated by Rebekka started. First, Fatiha shared a poem that she wrote during lockdown explaining her feelings of the time. Then four of our really active women – Fatiha, Amanda, Mavis and Fatimah – answered the questions asked by Rebekka, shared the stories behind their quilt pieces and their experiences of lockdown. At the end, people from the audience could ask questions.
This event not only allowed us to celebrate the creative project that will forever remind us of overcoming yet another hardship but also took a moment to look back and reflect. Listening to the women who participated in the panel discussion has been incredibly empowering. Hearing their stories and the battles they had to fight to gain the most basic rights gives everyone a better hope for the future. A future in which we can all co-exist peacefully and safely.
If you want to read more about the quilt, the stories behind it and the work of our women’s group, you can get our own Zine. More information here.
Big thank you to all our fantastic volunteers who helped us on the day.