Living Realities” is a multi-form, socio-political art project that reveals the lives affected by people who have left their home countries in a search for a new one. The project touches on the identities, journeys and adaptations faced by these individuals. These themes are diversely represented through dance, food and discussion.

Eva Valentová, the host of the discussion for “Living Realities” welcomed all to the event and said that it was important to hold this discussion at this facility because as a dance studio, it’s a place that represents movement, which reflects the theme of the Living Realities project.

The Passage of Flight” photography exhibition is a collaboration by journalist Nermin Ismail and photographer Simon van Hal. The images show the struggles faced by these migrants after their arrival in new countries and how they integrate into the new society.  

The panel discussion for the evening was hosted by Anna Grušová, the founder of the NGO Sdružení pro integraci a migraci (SIMI), an organisation that was established after working with Yugoslavian refugees. Magda Faltová, who is the current director of SIMI and Gerd Fleischer, the founder of Selvhjelp for Innvandrere og Flyktninger (SEIF) or elf Help for Immigrants and Refugees. SEIF is a leader in the fight for the rights of battered women in Norway.

The women speakers have personally experienced forms of oppression and persecution, each from conservative cultural backgrounds which drives a more empathetic approach to their work.,  All the speakers mentioned the difficulty of working towards getting their voice heard. Fleischer laughed and said,

“I learned my lesson in South America; I learned to be tough.”

The discussions included comparing the general changes in working with migrants over the last 25 years and working in the human rights field.

The current negative opinions of migrants and general decline of interest of oppressed groups raised concerns with all three women. It was agreed that the migrant crisis of 2015 divided public opinion  and contributed towards  the negative view of migrants  in the Czech Republic.

However, Grušová said there are positive stories too, and we must disseminate positivity instead of losing hope.

SIMI is teaching people to become more open minded by holding lectures at schools, workplaces in addition to  holding cooking workshops. Faltová said that food plays an important role in integration between  cultures. “People just start to talk and compare, ‘oh you know my mother made this very similar thing’ and they find out that it’s from the other part of the world, but the mothers are the same.”

Despite the decline in work with Non-Governmental Organisations, Faltová said, “The future doesn’t look very pink, so it is important to do it and continue doing it because there are less and less people who want to get into this fight.”

Further information about future events on the Living Realities events.

Photo courtesy of Michal Hancovsky | Studio ALTA