Women supported by migrant services in Portsmouth take part in empowering photoshoot
WOMEN from all different places across the world with different life experiences have come together to share their stories and empower themselves with a photoshoot.
The group, supported by the British Red Cross migrant services, is made up of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants fleeing violence and conflict, who now call Portsmouth home.
To highlight their different stories and help the women build their confidence, the team at the Red Cross contacted Jen Sanchez, owner of Dimples and Daisies Photography and The Liberty Lounge, to help create a collection of empowering photos.
Shamila Dhana from Zimbabwe was one of the women who took part in the project and is a Red Cross AVAIL ambassador (‘Amplifying the Voices of Asylum seekers and refugees for Integration and Life skills).
The 37-year-old, who recently became a mother, said: ‘It was very emotional to hear everyone’s stories and nine out of the 10 women who took part said they had experienced gender violence.
‘Jen created a very safe space for everyone to share their life story but it was also incredibly uplifting because the photoshoot gave everyone a chance to see themselves as the beautiful woman that they are.
‘When you are an asylum seeker or refugee money is tight and sometimes looking in the mirror can be difficult and something like a photoshoot is something you would never think you could do but the Red Cross and the City of Sanctuary project to connect people has helped bring those barriers down.’
For the shoot, each woman wore clothes that represented them and their culture.
Jen said: ‘Everyone can connect with someone because we have those universal experiences like love and loss but hearing about things you know about but hope never happen, like sexual violence and FGM (female genital mutilation), is harrowing.
‘Sharing their stories was so important to me because often we are desensitised to issues facing refugees because phrases like ‘swarms’ and ‘taking our jobs’ are used but we are all human. I think anyone going through what some of these women have gone through would try and escape and make a better life for themselves elsewhere and I think they are incredibly strong for doing that.’