By Rhianna Hurren-Myers
Over the last 5 years we have seen an unprecedented amount of politics and policies
revolving around the issue of refugees. An infamous example is Donald Trump’s recent ‘zero
tolerance policy’ in the United States towards any individual seeking asylum. Out of the
2,500 children labelled as, “unaccompanied aliens” and separated from their parents who
faced jail on arrival, 528 remain alone. This seems an unprecedented amount for the US to
handle, but, in reality, 84% of refugees are hosted in developing nations including Turkey,
Pakistan and Lebanon. Regardless, the issue of refuge and asylum remains a global issue.
In the annual global trends report, the UN Refugee Agency stated 2.4 million refugees fled
their countries in 2017 to escape either conflict or persecution. Furthermore, an individual
became displaced from their home every 2 seconds. The clinical views adopted by both
politicians and media sources towards refugees can leave the public blinded from the true
and real horrors asylum seekers leave behind. However, developing the courage to leave
your home and crossing the seas in incredibly dangerous conditions is often only the first of
a series of challenges an individual will encounter when seeking asylum.
A student-led campaign is bringing this conversation right into the heart of Cardiff city.
SolidariTee fundraises legal aid for refugees through selling artistic and meaningful T-Shirts.
Founded in 2017 by student Tiara Sahar Ataii from Cambridge University, after her own
experiences as a translator and interpreter in Greece, the campaign has so far raised
donations of nearly £48,000, an impressive amount for just two years. For Tiara, her dream
was to conduct a successful and direct response to the growing negative and xenophobic
discourse surrounding political policies and events. This, she believes, is directly caused by
media sources transmitting misinformation and disinformation – or ignoring the global crisis
altogether. Since 2017, Tiara’s initial vision has spread to not only hold teams across 25
British universities, but has also crossed international waters with developments in France,
Australia and the United States. SolidariTee’s first two campaigns supported Advocates
Abroad, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) delivering legal aid to refugees in Greece.
Now their support has widened to include the promotion of sustainable and long-term
volunteering alongside a diverse range of NGOs. The confirmed list for 2019 is one all
SolidariTee ambassadors are excitedly waiting to be announced.
For 2018/19, the limited-edition T-Shirts have been created by Sudanese artist Dar Al Naim,
who hopes these designs continue to grow awareness of the major humanitarian crisis
surrounding forced migration. Available in both black and white and black and teal, this
year’s designs focus on the journey refugees make across the sea. The ocean provides a
beautiful and poignant vision of freedom and hope, but, nevertheless, where the individual
remains swept up in a global problem much bigger than anyone could ever fully
comprehend. They need our help.
“The Sea, you see, is not just for holidays but the only road to freedom from death and
destruction for thousands of people – struggling everyday” – Dar Al Naim
Alice Abrey, the chair of SolidariTee’s new Cardiff team is hugely excited and optimistic
about its future in Wales:
“I love SolidariTee’s approach to fundraising which not only enables people to support
financially but also visually. Actions speak louder than words, as they say, and what better
way to spread the word of SolidariTee’s work and spark conversations about the plight of
refugees than by wearing this year’s bold designs on a T-Shirt. I’m hoping our team can
make a real impact within Cardiff and help such a worthwhile fundraiser grow even bigger!”
Wearing a T-Shirt is a powerful way to show visible support for a refugee crisis that, in many
ways, remains so disconnected from us in the West. Show solidarity with SolidariTee’s
campaign and buy one today for £10.
For more information check out the ‘SolidariTee National’ page on Facebook,
‘teesofsolidarity’ on Instagram or @SolidariTeeUK on Twitter.