House keys. Face whitening cream. A turban. A half-baked loaf of bread. A cup. Memories.
These are a few of the articles itemised in Jenifer Toksvig’s poem What They Took With Them, inspired by the first-hand testimonies of refugees and performed above in an incredibly powerful dramatic reading lead by UNHCR goodwill ambassador Cate Blanchett.
The video, a Facebook exclusive created by the UNHCR, also drew inspiration from photographer Brian Soko’s project The Most Important Thing, which was similarly made in collaboration with the United Nations refugee agency. Together, they document those precious and practical items that some of the 65 million displaced persons across the world have taken with them in their pursuit of asylum.
Actors Keira Knightley, Juliet Stevenson, Peter Capaldi, Stanley Tucci, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kit Harington, Douglas Booth, Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Gaiman also feature in the short, which urges viewers to sign the #WithRefugees petition demanding international governments to ensure that exiled refugees have access to schooling, health and shelter ahead of a major UN summit beginning next week at the New York headquarters. At the time of writing, over 971,000 signatories had contributed their names.
Tile and cover image: Facebook