Refugees in Poland bring attention to plight of asylum seekers with theatre

24-06-2005

"Journeys in a New Homeland" is the title of a play written by a Cameroonian refugee, Simon Mol, and shown to Polish audiences by a team of refugee-actors seeking asylum in Poland.

The play opens with a symbolic argument between a drummer and guitarist. This, in turn, leads to a widespread bloody conflict.

[Excerpt from play] Voice 1: Stop talking nonsense! Voice 2: No, you are talking nonsense. Voice 1: Oh, sacred sound of the guitar. [Laughter]

As a result of the chaos in the country, the main character - played by Vivien Myambone, who arrived in Poland from Burundi 7 months ago - is forced to leave her homeland.

[Excerpt from play]: Voice 1: I said, Lilly, wrong, wrong, here. Voice 2: But where do I go. What about my children. Voice 1: I said go! You know what the hell. Voice 2: But where do I go without my children, please.

Then she finds herself in a new country where, just like in the case of other characters, a long difficult journey is awaiting her before she can be granted a refugee status. Simon Mol, the author of the play and a refugee himself, says that even though based on individual experiences, the story has a universal dimension.

"I think it's very, very universal because this is what asylum seekers go through everywhere. In fact, I think it's even worse in some other countries right now at this moment, because the issue of, you know, granting refugee status on this is a priority in European policy particularly. But even as far off as Australia and the U.S., you know, people are tightening the security rules and so it's a very universal thing. The main character, the protagonist is a woman. This also has a special significance because women really suffer a lot and the process of leaving their country forcefully. So, this has a special message that a woman had to flee her country because of war."

The actors are all amateurs coming from 7 different countries. Simon Mol: "We have people from Chechnya. We have one lady from Belarus. We have Poles as well here - about six of them. We have one guy from Pakistan. I am from Cameroon, the president of the Association; from Liberia. We have a volunteer from England, who is also taking part. So, you'll find about seven different nationalities involved. So, it's a very, very dimensional play."

To regulate the situation of refugees, Poland has signed an agreement on abolishing visas for refugees. However, the agreement covers 19 nations, purely European ones, most of which are members of the European Union, while most refugees seeking asylum in Poland come from Africa or Asia.

24-06-2005