I am now a Palermitan!

Kadija J. about the thankfulness for the support she received in Palermo.

Kadijatu J., Palermo 2019 © Minor

When I arrived in Palermo, I was sick and crazy. They rescued me, they took me to the hospital, cured me until I got myself back. This is big love: Someone who doesn’t know you, is not your parents, gives you food, a place to sleep – that is big love. I am very happy for the people in Palermo, for the entire Palermo and entire Italy. I don’t have any places to go, I am not going anywhere. My place is Palermo. […] I am now a Palermitan!

Kadija J. in an Interview in Palermo, 11. June 2019

Kadija J. has lived in Palermo for over two years. Because she suffers from a chronic heart-lung disorder and medical supplies in her homecountry Guinea was not sufficient, she and her husband came to Palermo. They have a son who they had to leave behind in Guinea. Kadija wishes to be involved in cultural mediation within the refugee community.

During the Giocherenda Workshop Kadija told us about her reasons to come to Europe, her visions and how she reforges a new life in Palermo and supports other refugees in doing so.

How were the films and interviews in Palermo made?

Diawara B. and Diallo S. from Giocherenda held a three-day workshop with six participants in Palermo: Glory M., Fatima D., Ismail A., Kadijatu J., Marrie S. and Mustapha F. Mixing different approaches and games, the group exchanged personal experiences and shared them in the black box in front of the camera. Furthermore, Fatima D., Ismail A. and Mustapha F. consented to being portrayed in short films by the We Refugees Archive film crew beyond the workshop. The portraits deal with their lives in the city.

Giocherenda is a professional organization led by, for and with young refugees in Palermo that offers storytelling games. Its aim is not to help refugees and support them, but the opposite: refugees bring locals together for the sake of exchanging their experiences with refugees.

The word Giocherenda stems from the Fula language Pular, primarily spoken in Guinea, and connotes solidarity, interdependence and strength generated from people getting together. Phonetically, it resembles the Italian word “giocare” (to play), which inspired the collective to develop games for the sake of producing narratives and personal memories.

Refugees’ perspectives

In the interviews, the film crew consciously abstained from screenplays and standardized questions. Instead, the refugees directed the course of the interview and discussed only those topics they were willing to speak about. With We Refugee Archive’s mission in mind, the participants’ personal experiences in Palermo and their visions for the near future was the rough focal point. Thus, experiences during and personal trajectories of forced migration to Europe were shared and discussed at the individual’s own will and not required nor elicited on demand.