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Moving short film highlights the challenges and triumphs of forcibly displaced and stateless people searching for home


Moving short film highlights the challenges and triumphs of forcibly displaced and stateless people searching for home

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Emtithal Mahmoud, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR's Journalist Mentorship Programme join forces to tell poignant stories of flight, healing and renewal.
10 June 2022
Studio location. Goodwill Ambassador, Emtithal (Emi) Mahmoud filming for the Concepts of Home Project
Goodwill Ambassador, Emtithal (Emi) Mahmoud filming for the Concepts of Home Project.

GENEVA – Poet, activist and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Emtithal Mahmoud has produced a powerful short film, “Concepts of Home,” to highlight the challenges and triumphs that forcibly displaced and stateless people experience every day in their quest to rebuild their lives.

Emtithal, known as “Emi,” worked with 10 inspirational individuals to produce the 15-minute film, which focuses on their interpretations of “home” and first-hand experiences with displacement, loss and rebuilding, as well as the joys of being welcomed, reuniting with loved ones – and of welcoming others.

The project is the result of a unique collaboration between Emi, the IKEA Foundation and UNHCR. Emi worked with participants in UNHCR’s Journalist Mentorship Programme to explore concepts of home, empathy, healing and what it means to be an advocate for change.

“I want the video, the mentees’ own words and my words to evoke feelings of home, feelings of family, feelings of loss and redemption, feelings of resilience,” Emi said. “I want people to feel that and to be inspired.”

Those featured in the video include Sudanese student Radwan I., who lives in a camp for internally displaced people; Mireille Kayeye, a PhD student who fled Burundi and is now living in Melbourne; artist Ekaterina E., who left the Soviet Union at 16 and has been living in the United States as a stateless person for nearly three decades; and journalist Hala Haj Taleb, a Syrian refugee now living in Dubai.

The UNHCR/IKEA Foundation video was launched as an installation at H22 City Expo, an exhibition centre in Helsingborg, Sweden, on 30 May and will run to 3 July. In addition, Ingka Group, the largest IKEA retailer, is lending its exhibition space at the design festival Salone del Mobile in Milan to show the video between 10-12 June, in the run-up to World Refugee Day on 20 June.

A former refugee, Emi hopes that those seeing the video will be able to imagine themselves sitting opposite the participants as they bravely discuss reconciling memories of home with the sense of displacement, loss and grief.

“A lot of people don’t think they can relate to someone who is displaced or a refugee or a former refugee like me, or a stateless person or an internally displaced person,” Emi added. “In the end, we all want the same things: safety, home, happiness, success, freedom.”

For many participants, it will be their first time sharing their experiences with a wider audience.

“Regardless of whether someone is stateless, displaced or a refugee, the things that we treasure the most are all very much the same, namely our connection to home and our families,” Ekaterina E. said.

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The UNHCR Journalist Mentorship Programme supports forcibly displaced, stateless people and others who want to tell their own stories or the important stories of today by providing training in advocacy and journalism.

The IKEA Foundation is a strategic philanthropy that focuses its grant making efforts on tackling the two biggest threats to children’s futures: poverty and climate change. It currently grants more than €200 million per year to help improve family incomes and protect the planet from climate change. Since 2009, the IKEA Foundation has granted more than €1.5 billion to create a better future for children and their families.

In 2021 the Foundation decided to make an additional €1 billion available over the next five years to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Film available here:

Photos available on Refugees Media: