BIASAN – Humanising

Humanising is group exhibition by refugees and asylum seekers from BIASAN in Bradford, jointly curated with artist Mussarat Rahman.

The exhibition is about humanising people rather than showing them as victims, showing the amount of positive emotions, mental health and wellbeing such as: joy, love, passion, happiness, pleasure and other expressed.

The emphasis of the exhibition is about engaging the BIASAN (Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support & Advice Network) community into an exhibition, which gives the group a platform which shows their positive contribution to British society and how they are involved in communities, actively taking part in social hubs and diverse networks. Read more about the artists whose work is featured underneath the images.

About the Artists

Afaf El Suad
I come from Alexandria in Egypt. I lived there for 25 years with my whole family including my parents, I lived by the Sea, and the beach was just outside the door. As the beach was so close, we used to get up early, that’s me and friends and go straight to see what the fishermen had caught on the day. I’d buy the freshest catch and cook it as soon as I went home.  That’s what we all did in Egypt. It was just a way of life: sun, sand sea and beach.
I did have a job. I was a Nurse for 15 years and I loved it. Sometimes when we finished our shifts and we’d just sit and drink black tea together.  There was a time when I used to go out a lot with my friends, and go eat at street food vendors who did delicious Egyptian food but I would say that as I am Egyptian.
I always remember the weather as lovely and hot, with sometimes little soft lovely breezes. But I’ll always remember the Beach, and the Sea. I could see both stretching out for miles: Sitting there I used to get lost in my thoughts for hours, very idyllic. I like the UK but I miss my life in Egypt.  I’ve accepted my life here. I can’t go back, to what and how? I think it’s impossible but I can still dream.

Ahlam Dukhanie
I am Ahlam. I am originally from Iraq but I have moved a lot since my days in Iraq.
I had a daughter but she’s dead. My daughter was 8 years old when I lost her. Armed raiders broke into my house and shot her in the head. It was the worst time of my life. After that I left Iraq, and I moved to Syria where I stayed for a long time, roughly 7 years, trying to find and build my life.
In 2015 I applied for the vulnerable peoples programme and through the UN and I got accepted into the UK. When I arrived, I ended up in different places but then I settled in Bradford and this is where I’ve built a life. I love the UK, I love living here. It’s so different, and I’ve got a lot of friends now. I’m not working but I volunteer a lot and I also study at the local college. I thank the UK for letting me in. It’s let me re-build my life again. But I don’t want to remember my old life, it’s gone now, away with the memories I don’t want.

Aliaa Shather
I am originally from Baghdad in Iraq. I used to be Electrical engineer which was very common for women to be in this role in Iraq. Before the war, the government actively encouraged women into many roles: driving, engineers, teaching, pilots, architecture, all roles were open to women. But when the war came everything changed. Many things changed for everyone and it was harsh. I accepted the changes, whether I liked it or not, I had to survive.
I lost all my family in the war, except one sister who was married who stayed.  It wasn’t safe for me to be a lone woman in Iraq, I was vulnerable to attack and intimidation by unsavoury people but it’s how it was for all women there so I left the country. I moved to Syria as a refugee. I registered myself onto the United Nations programme and I was successful. I lived in Damascus for about 9 years where I studied, lived and worked in many different roles including: hairdresser, teacher, beauty therapist, and as a secretary. I loved living in Syria and I loved my life there. It was cheap, quiet, safe, and the atmosphere and the city life was like a dream. I enjoyed my time there, and I have very fond memories of my life and how it used to be.
I then moved to Lebanon for a while and then I ended up settling back into Damascus again. I came to the UK through the UN programme, 2 years ago and I ended up in Bradford. I wasn’t happy here at first. It’s not Iraq or Syria, but I do like it here. It’s a great country and I’ve seen quite a bit of Yorkshire and made great friends, friends who I can rely on and know they will be there when I need them. That’s important to me.

Anju Patel
I am Anju. I am originally from India, Gujurat- Surat. I was born and bred in India, where I was raised a Hindu, that is my religion. I was taught to read and write Hindi and I am very good at it. I still have family in India. They are still living, thriving and happy.  I practically go to visit them every year.
I left India in 1992. I came to the UK to get married.  My husband was born and bred here in the UK. I was happily married for two years but eventually our differences made us grow apart and I left him. I ended up applying for citizenship alone which is not what I expected.  I thought I would be applying as a happy couple but that didn’t happen. Not in my life. Since then my life has had many turns and I’ve ended up living the best years of my life alone. I’ve lived my life accordingly.
I did return to India, many times in fact. My family still live there and I miss them.  India and UK are worlds apart. India is hot and sunny. You can go to the market and pick up fresh ingredients every day, fresh food on the markets, eat street food. All the juices are freshly squeezed and just yummy.  My clothes from India are bright and sunny, just like the sun. And when I wear my saris I twinkle like a star! My Indian heritage means the world to me, it defines me and I am proud to be an Indian, a Hindu and just be me.

Deaf Women’s Society
The Deaf Women’s Society is a community support group for Deaf Women’s particularly in Bradford and West Yorkshire.  This particular project has been set up to empower local Deaf women, enabling them to have the confidence to socialise and engage with other deaf women. We have a session which runs at the end of every month. Here we get together, provide tea/coffee/snacks; provide educational courses/ training, various social activities, and other at request.

Falak Desouki
My name is Falak Desouki, I am from Syria, Aleppo to be exact. I was born and raised in Aleppo and I was married in Aleppo, My husband was from Aleppo too, and he was called Mahmoud Al Bakour.  My fondest memories include taking my children to karate, with my closest friends.  I loved walking in the park, the shops were beautiful and I loved the street food as it is amazing! The food that is famous for Syria or Aleppo is “ Kuba, and kebab, Yabrak” (Kuba: burger made from wheat, meat, onions, nuts, spices: ground spice, black pepper, cumin. Yabrak: food from a tree: Leaves:  wrap in the leaves, puut rice, meat inside and roll it up and you eat the leaf aswell.) I lived in a flat, 2 bedroomed flat, it was on the 2nd floor, so my views were limited due to it facing the back streets instead if the front. Street life was busy in Syria and I enjoyed it very much and the smells were very comforting.
Since I have moved to England, my life is very different now. I am a widow now, and still a mother to 4 children.  My son Mohammed came to England with me, one son is in Cyprus, and my two daughters are still in Syria, married with their own families and I miss them very much!
I came to Bradford, 3 years ago and it is now my home. I have lots of friends here, who also came to England at the same time as me. We are in touch regularly and also meet in various groups such as BIASAN. My life is has changed dramatically since I left my home, but I have a new home now and I’m still getting used to the country, particularly the weather.

Hui Jie Huang
I’m from China, and my name literally means “Clever”. I lived a simple life in China. But due to personal circumstances I had to leave. I’ve been in the UK for four years now and I live with my little boy Kevin, who is around two years old and I’m just a housewife.  I’ve been learning English and I go to English classes at Bradford College, which is not so far from my house, so I catch the bus down. There’s childcare available so I can study and learn in peace.
I do like Bradford.  I’ve made friends through the groups that I go to, which is really helpful for me. They provide us with lots of things and goods, particularly for my son, as children’s toys and clothes are expensive and I don’t have a lot of monies for those things, so these things help a lot. Bradford people are very friendly and the streets are clean too.  It’s very different to where I grew up in China. I do miss China but I live here now. I don’t mind the UK; it’s just different that’s all. Lister Park is beautiful, with the Mughal gardens, Gallery and the play area, and it’s my favourite place in the world. So much to do and it’s so peaceful.
I love reading Chinese books. I’d like to read English books but I haven’t mastered the English language yet. Ooh and I love cooking Chinese foods!  I don’t need to ask what to put in as I already know what the ingredients are.
And this is my life.

Iqbal Ahmad
I am widowed with three children, two girls and one boy. I am originally from Baghdad, Iraq. Baghdad was beautiful before the war, but now it’s a shadow of its former glory. The War started in 2004. I was a housewife, looking after my children, the house and my husband. My husband worked to support us, he had a really good job, a building contracts manager and the money was really good. So we lived a good life, accustomed to certain luxuries which my husband paid for. But when work dried up, we ended up moving to Syria, which was in 2008.  Syria was a beautiful place a stunning place. Life was busy, comfortable and safe, and money was good too, I loved it.
In 2014, the War came to Syria. Life changed dramatically. It became incredibly difficult to survive. My husband ended moving back to Iraq where he was killed in 2016.  I decided it was time to leave as life became too dangerous to stay, so we applied to the UN resettlement Programme and ended up being resettled in the UK. We’ve been here two years now and were still rebuilding our lives. UK living is different and I’m still adapting but my children are finding it easier than me.
But it’s safe, especially for my children.

Maha Al Jaffan
I am from Syria, Damascus “the oldest city in the world”. I love Damascus. It’s where I was born and raised, so were my parents and my grandparents before them. It was our family heritage.  My grandparents owned a big house which they sold when my dad got married. They gave him the money to set up on his own, to start his own family. He bought a house in the rural are of Damascus, “ Daria” where I was born and raised. You could get there easily by bus. There’s a good few routes which take you can take through the rural areas. It’s mostly farmlands and orchards with fruit trees. It’s very famous for its grapes.
I lived there for 28 years and I loved my life there too much. There was a beach nearby, and the views were fantastic.  It was a beautiful idyllic life. When I used to get up in the morning I used to make fresh coffee.  I would invite all my neighbours over, and we’d grind the coffee together. We’d listen to Ferooz- a Lebanese singer, with the fresh scent of Jasmine blowing on the breeze, mingled with the smell of freshly ground coffee in the background.  I was studying until the revolution started in 2012, then I left for the countryside. We had to move deeper into the countryside, somewhere safer, to my Uncles house which was very peaceful until the war reached the countryside and we had to leave.
I’ve seen 500 people killed by Assad’s army. Eventually things became too dangerous to stay and I along with my sister were relocated to the UK. We came through the Vulnerable Peoples programme through the UN. But we left our parents behind with one of our sisters and we miss them.
I have settled in the UK now. I keep in touch very regularly with my family via Facebook and other social media apps etc. I’m not used to the cold and find that difficult.  But I have access to ingredients that are similar to Syrian food dishes and that makes me very happy as it reminds me of home.

Marjan Hussain - download as image

Sima Dawa - download as image

Tabarak Hussain
I live here in the UK with my Mom and Dad. I am an only child so I am very much loved by both my parents. We came over from Baghdad in Iraq in 2016. We came through the UN Resettlement Programme and since we arrived here, we haven’t looked back.
Iraq was constantly at war, so it was a very dangerous to be living there, you were lucky to survive because of the bombings. Food was very expensive, and my dad worked hard but the cost of living was very high. My mom was at home most of the time; she was a housewife and took care of the house, looking after me and my dad. She cooks Dolma a lot, an Iraqi dish, which you can buy here in the UK, but it’s still not as good as what we make traditionally in Iraq.
As a family, life is good here, but more than that, it’s safe. We are safe.

Yusra Al Maghribi
I am 21 years old and I am originally from Syria, Aleppo! I loved it there, it was very nice, beautiful and I still have family there. My elder brother is still there and I worry about him a lot. I miss him and Aleppo. It was my home.
I am from a family of 6 brothers and sisters, and I am the 3rd youngest in the family. I am now in my early 20s, am still young and ready to explore my life! Especially now I am in the UK.  Living in Aleppo was different, I didn’t go out much, but that was just me. It was quite safe to walk around on a night and parties finished late, sometimes around 4am! I left my friends behind and am now making a life in the UK.  But I’m not complaining as I like it here. I think there are better opportunities for young people than maybe Syria.
I haven’t forgotten where I came from but I am building my life and need to think of my future now.
I came to the UK in 2014, through the UK Gateway program.  When I first arrived here, In Bradford, I couldn’t speak much English. It was hard to communicate with others, even with those trying to be helpful. It was hard but then I started at Bradford College. I enrolled on a course, a beginner’s class of English language. I now have my Math’s and English.
I enjoy England, I like living here. It’s good for my whole family. We have a good life here and enjoy living here.

Self Portrait: I Am Refugee
I am Refugee
You say
But not what I say
I am seeking refuge
Wherever it may be
A safe place
A roof over my head
A place to rest my weary bones
I'm human first
Regardless of what you think
Yes it stinks
All the hoops I have to jump through
To prove myself
But for what and why
Just hear my words
My plea
As I am Human first