Humanity’s Heart, an initiative set up by broadcast journalist and filmmaker Tazeen Dhunna Ahmad, was launched on 23rd May at the London film premiere of independent documentary film Humanity Rising. The initiative will raise money for a collective of 9 refugee charities working on the front lines of the refugee crisis and will raise awareness of their outstanding but underfunded grassroots work.
Many of the charities supported by the initiative are featured in the film Humanity Rising, which touchingly explores in-depth personal stories behind the current refugee crisis. Witnessing a range of narratives, from refugees to camp volunteers to academics and faith leaders, the film aims to educate and inspire the public to see beyond repetitive news headlines, detached statistics and procedural politics related to the emergency.
Humanity Rising details a journey to the heart of what makes us human, following Ahmad’s journey through refugee camps in Calais, Lebanon and Greece, as well as relational spaces where refugees meet locals in the UK. After volunteering in the refugee camps, and struck by the impact the charities had on the lives of those in need, Ahmad set up the Humanity’s Heart initiative to help profile and sustain the vital (and often underfunded) work of volunteer-run charities working hard on the ground.
“This is the largest crisis since WWII, and with rising xenophobia sweeping across Europe I wanted to profile the vital work of volunteers who are at the coalface of the crisis, reaching out with humanity to those in need and providing inspiration over what can be done to remedy the situation. Through this project I’ve come to realise that in tandem with the extreme challenges faced by those fleeing wars and tyranny, the refugee crisis is also giving birth to extraordinary examples of humanity with thousands turning up to help refugees irrespective of media, religious and political biases. They are choosing to believe in the power of humanity above all else.”
At the screening of this relevant and timely documentary, three Syrians, Rahaf Al Ghalyoun, Dr Karim Hussein and Dina Ariss, detailed their own harrowing stories of leaving Syria and their journey within the crisis of our time.
The event also featured panel discussions with prominent volunteer and faith organisations exploring the rise in global activism, which included Mahmoud Mostafa Threshold Society, Jo Winslow Slater St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg New North London Synagogue and Sara Conway from Unity – a grass-roots local initiative of Jewish and Muslim women.
Donate to the Humanity’s Heart crowd funding campaign here.
About Humanity’s Heart initiative:
Humanity’s Heart is an online platform that was created to witness, share and inspire. It profiles the excellent work of established initiatives supporting displaced refugees. Through a series of documentary’s and short videos, Humanity Rising in the Refugee Crisis being the first, the platform aims to educate about the reality on the ground, provide a space to improve connections between charities and initiatives supporting the 20m+ displaced today.
About Tazeen Dhunna Ahmad:
“As a daughter of a migrant, a British Citizen, a mother of two and a believer in the power of humanity, I continue to be deeply moved by both the tragedies and the inspirations in this world.
The shocking images of the washed up body of Aylun Kurdi touched a deep sense of disbelief and powerlessness in me. The images triggered a decision to head to volunteer in Calais (The Jungle) with my brother and friends with an intention to serve and help in the crisis of our time. On return, I dedicated myself to witnessing and sharing on the alternative narrative focused on the humanisation of this crisis (lacking in mainstream media).
With the shock Brexit vote and observing the rising trend in racism and the Far Right across Europe and beyond, I reflected on curiosities such as “How are the arrival of refugees to the shores of Europe linked to the rise in Xenophobia?”, “What motivates volunteers to turn up and serve refugees in this crisis?”, “Will washed up bodies like Aylun Kurdi become a new social norm?” and “what spiritual lessons to humanity are emerging in the largest crisis since WWII?”
It was at that moment, I realised my background in broadcast journalism, finance, fundraising and philanthropy could be put to use.
Through our films, we bring you the voices of refugees, volunteers, ordinary citizens, government officials, academics and spiritual leaders and bring to light the complexities of what this crisis brings humanity. With a deep longing for my children and my children’s children to be part of a world where the unity within humanity is encouraged we share with you what we witnessed on our travels through Calais, Lebanon, Greece and parts of the UK and bring you inspirational humanitarian examples through the crisis of our time.
We also hold a space connecting those wishing to help in this crisis with those already helping on the ground and offer heartfelt gratitude to the team of volunteers and professional who have supported this project. The film is dedicated to all of humanity, especially those that have suffered an extreme loss in the largest humanitarian crisis since WWII.