Speaking for Ourselves

Working to tell migrant stories

Working to tell migrant stories

Tara Higgins and Aaron Cruz

 Migrant Voice -
 Migrant Voice - Working to tell migrant stories

Chaher works as a contemporary artist, writer, and filmmaker. He took the time to chat with us and touch upon life and his work in London.

Born in Damascus, Syria, Chaher first came to the UK 12 years ago to be part of a programme called the “Vincentian Volunteers”. Within the program, he worked alongside a group of young men and women from all over the world and committed a year of his life to the service of vulnerable people.

Chaher’s placement was at a drop in Centre for Families and Children of disadvantaged backgrounds in London’s Westminster area. He says that his participation in the programme allowed him to grow spiritually, emotionally, and professionally: “The year was an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God, and to grow in understanding of ourselves and others, especially those who are poor”.

At the programme’s conclusion, Chaher decided to continue his education in the UK. He acquired his Hotel and Catering Management Diploma from the Institute of Commercial Management in Bournemoth, and subsequently worked in hotels across various departments for a few years. It was not until he did a course in TV presenting and Professional Communication that Chaher gained a passion for writing and filmmaking, which he has since fuelled in various ways.

Now at the age of 30, Chaher does a radio show based on migrants’ lives in the UK. He is also working on both a documentary and a ballet script production. The documentary is on refugees and asylum seekers in Britain. He writes on a freelance basis, most frequently in a blog called Feelings In Brief where he showcases writings and art. Through his work, Chaher hopes to focus on and bring attention to the issues many migrants face when coming to the UK.

Today, Chaher resides in southeast London near Greenwich Park. He enjoys being surrounded by nature and prefers the quiet area to the more crowded sections of London. The not so bustling atmosphere allows Chaher to partake in hobbies like painting, yoga, and swimming.

Chaher really appreciates the diversity and open-minded environment within London. He believes the city has much to offer on a cultural level, in terms of museums, galleries, and theatres. “London is a diverse and multicultural hub, everyone is free to express and do what they feel like. There is no one to judge you and no one interferes with your life unless you want them to!”

Even as Chaher praises London’s sense of diversity, he still thinks migrants are climbing an uphill battle in adjusting to life in the UK. He strongly disagrees with the new Immigration bill, saying it will cause much harm to migrants and community cohesion. Chaher is driven to document the migrant experience through his work, and hopefully be a part of making that better future a reality.