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World Refugee Day: a new documentary series on finding hope away from home

Refugees in Jordan, Germany, and Uganda collaborate with YouTube Creators to bring their powerful stories to millions around the world.

The refugee crisis reached a shocking new milestone last year with the total number of people forcibly displaced around the world exceeding 100 million for the first time ever.

To mark World Refugee Day, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in collaboration with YouTube releasing a new film series that showcases the creativity and courage of refugees from three different regions of the world. The series was created and produced by Uncommon Creative Studio in association with Lief.

The stories are told through a moving documentary series called "We Were Here" — with Executive Producer Alma Har'el, the highly commended Israeli-American music video and film director, overseeing the entire series. Har’el is the visionary director of award winning films such as Honey Boy, LoveTrue and Bombay Beach.

In each story we see a refugee share their passion with a YouTube creator who shares this creative interest across outlets like music, toy making and permaculture.

These films celebrate the mark these creatives leave on the places and people they connect with on their journeys; through conversation, collaboration and making with influential YouTube talent in their creative fields.

The filmic series explores creative outlets such as music, toy making and permaculture. Each story leaves the audience with a beautiful insight into their lives and what has shaped their creativity along the way. The films will launch today on each YouTube creator’s channel.

  • The Musicians: In a village just outside Stuttgart, chart-topping DJ & Producer Jax Jones meets displaced Ukrainian - Ethiopian sisters Betty, Siona and Miriam, who form hip-hop trio Fo Sho together. Restarting their lives in Germany, they are overcoming creative and personal struggles whilst discovering the healing power of sisterhood and music. Working on a track in the studio together, we learn both artists share a common language searching for belonging.

  • The Toymaker: At Azraq refugee camp, in the middle of the Jordanian desert, YouTube inventor Simone Giertz meets Mohammad Waheed, a grandfather, retired construction worker and Syrian refugee, who is known as the toymaker of the camp. Together they set out to build a toy helicopter that they hope will fly, along the way overcoming creative and cultural differences to form a deep connection. An uplifting, heartwarming and emotionally-charged film about play and creativity, which also gives a rare insight into life in a remote refugee camp.

  • The Permaculturist: Spanning Wales, Uganda and Germany, this episode sees vegan chef, permaculture enthusiast, and YouTube creator Gaz Oakley meet permaculture expert Bemeriki Dusabe, a Congolese refugee who has been living in a settlement in Uganda for the last 16 years, where he has set up a his own foundation, teaching others how to grow their own foo

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For many, the enormity and complexity of the issues can feel overwhelming: it is easy to lose sight of the individuals affected by displacement and see only the scale of the situation. The “We Were Here” series aims to give people an opportunity to identify with individuals by connecting with something we all share — creativity.

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