The Human Impact

Asylum tales: London museum hosts a tour with a twist

What connects a brass medallion to Leonardo da Vinci’s diary, a Japanese sake kettle and an ornate wooden pulpit that once belonged to the Sultan of Qa’itbay?

All are housed in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and all were chosen by Sudanese asylum seeker Marwa Fedail on one of a series of special tours giving new meaning to old treasures.

For an hour, Fedail showed visitors different objects she relates to her life in the spotlight as a daughter of Darfur rebel leader Jibril Ibrahim, and her medical training in the far-flung reaches of Sudan.

The tour, in aid of Refugee Week, was a chance for 26-year-old Fedail to indulge two of her main interests – art and storytelling. “I like history, I like history of art, I like art in general, and I like to tell my story,” she told AlertNet.

“I consider it a symbol of a shelter or a cocoon to hide in,” Fedail said of Phoebe Stannard’s brass medal with an engraving of a person curled up inside.

A refugee, an amputee, a marathon runner: Abdifatah’s story

Abdifatah Dhuhulow takes a break from some training in London’s Hyde Park, February 17, 2012. ALERTNET/Shanshan Chen

For someone who struggles to run a few metres before collapsing with a stitch, I’m constantly amazed by the skill of long-distance runners, and used to think crossing the finishing line of a marathon was the height of physical achievement — until meeting Abdifatah Dhuhulow.

An amputee, Abdifatah lost his left leg due to injuries sustained as a young boy fleeing the outbreak of civil war in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu in 1991.

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