Students chart a perilous journey to freedom

Published: 8 March 2017 at 14:30

Animation by Anglia Ruskin students

Anglia Ruskin animation documents gay refugee’s attempt to start a new life

The attempts of a gay Syrian refugee to escape persecution and start a new life in Cambridge have been turned into an animation by students from Anglia Ruskin University.

The piece, by second-year BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation students, was commissioned by the BBC and tells the true story of a Syrian, given the name Samar, who decided in 2013 to flee his war-torn home country where he risked being killed for being gay.

After spending two years in Turkey, he continued his journey to Western Europe, initially boarding a dinghy to Greece in 2015. Eventually, he sought UK asylum and was helped by a charity who rehouses refugees and now stays with a family in Cambridge.

However, he knows he can never return to his homeland because his family would not accept his sexuality.

The three-minute animation tells of how Samar’s father rejected him and the perilous journey he then faced between countries, followed by the difficulties he faced in gaining asylum.

The animation also shows the acceptance he found in Cambridge and the family who took him in, but also the trauma of hearing of the problems facing his home country and the story of a schoolfriend who was killed for denouncing ISIS.

The students who worked on the piece were Tara Wood, Katherine Thomas, Josephine Lingard and Phoenix Hall.

Dr Nanette Hoogslag, Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Illustration and Animation course, said:

“The animation produced by our students is a terrific accompaniment to this Samar’s extremely harrowing and moving story.

“There is a real sense of pride that he has found acceptance in Cambridge and has been able to start a new life here, and the students on the Illustration and Animation course enjoyed working on this project immensely.”

The animation can be viewed here and the story has also been translated to be used on the BBC’s foreign language stations.