A video posted by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency depicting the struggles faced by the refugees across the world, is bound to haunt you. In the video, renowned Hollywood actors perform a poem ‘What They Took With Them’. The poem asks a simple question, “If you had to flee your home, what would you take?”
Hollywood superstar and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Cate Blanchett performed the rhythmic poem along with fellow actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman. Along their brilliant oratory, the real pictures and footage of refugees accompanying the text will give you goosebumps and leave a huge lump in your throat; and, if we may say, it will definitely move you to tears.
Exclusively released on Facebook, the video urges people to support and sign the #WithRefugees petition to help ensure refugees a better life.
The poem has been written by Jenifer Toksvig and was inspired by accounts and first-hand testimonies from refugees, who have been forced to leave their homes and items they took with them while they tried to escape the devastating wars.
According to UNHCR, one of the primary sources for the poem was Brian Sokol’s photography project, ‘The Most Important Thing’. Many of Sokol’s photos, along with firsthand accounts from the refugees he photographed, have been featured in the film.
Twined with footage of bombings and children wailing along with all the stories, the film portrays the devastation of the war. From house keys, wallets, official documents, and passports to jewellery, sewing machines, toothpaste and photographs – you will be painfully surprised at their list.
One of the daunting lines recited by actors was, “There’s nothing but the sea as a way to get out and be free.” Images of refugees fleeing war zones in overcrowded boats have already shown the helplessness of them. The painful picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi washed ashore still haunt us.
The items taken by refugees are varied and too some extent sometimes too mundane and which might seem rather unnecessary. One such account says how a man had only brought a cup with him, he said people get tired and angry when asked for something every day and eventually would say no. “I’d have ashamed to ask every day for a cup, just to take a drink of water….But now I have my own cup. It gives me independence, no matter where I go.”
In another experience in the video they say, “I carried my virginity, out at the sea, we rubbed ourselves in vomit so the pirates wouldn’t touch us.”
The video posted on UNHCR’s Facebook page on September 8 has been viewed over 200, 000 times, at the time of writing and shared over 5,000 times.
The #WithRefugees campaign for which the special film was made wants to help “counter xenophobic rhetoric and send world leaders a clear message to do their fair share to find bold, humane and innovative solutions for refugees.”