Lights, camera - action on asylum-seekers

7th February 2003 at 00:00
YOUNG asylum-seekers in Glasgow have gone into the film production business to make children across Scotland aware of the problems facing school-age refugees.

Colour Blind is one of four films about asylum-seekers to be shown tomorrow (Saturday) at Filmhouse in Edinburgh on the theme of "children on the margins". The story, set in a Glasgow secondary, covers issues such as bullying, racism and tensions between the sexes.

The video is the result of a Glasgow project set up by Save the Children involving students from diverse backgrounds, including Scottish children, and was jointly funded by the charity and the European Refugee Fund.

It follows a survey last year of 738 children from asylum-seeking families in the city by Save the Children and the council's education department, which found that school was a highlight for many.

Shakha Sattar, aged 15, a Kurd from Iraq who was a scriptwriter and plays one of the leading roles, is a pupil at Glasgow's Cleveden Secondary. He appreciates the opportunity he has been given at Cleveden to mix with other young people and have a formal education which will lead to qualifications.

He has also experienced the downside of being an outsider:

"I hope that this film will help to reduce racism when asylum-seekers and refugees arrive in schools."

Mohamed Omar from Somalia, the film's cameraman, stressed the need to make Scottish pupils aware of the problems faced by young people such as himself and the importance of making them feel welcome.

"Meeting Glasgow kids of my own age has helped me to develop as a person and attending school in Glasgow will help to ensure that I have a future," he says.

Heather DeVilbliss, one of the Cleveden pupils in the scriptwriting team, was the film's production assistant. She volunteered to take part because she was friendly with some asylum-seekers and felt that the film would lead to a better understanding. "Most Scots people don't understand the challenges and obstacles facing them in a new country," she says.

Richard Morran from the development staff at Save the Children believes that the video, which has already been ordered by seven local authorities, is an excellent teaching aid for personal and social education because it is set in a recognisable Scottish setting and person-alises current issues around asylum-seekers and immigration.

Copies of the video are available from r.morran@scfufk.org.uk, price pound;5.

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