#ICAMEBYBOAT campaign humanizing asylum seekers in Australia

Liberal political rhetoric uses their stance against people-smugglers to justify their policy against humanity.

We’ve heard the prime minister word-slay the actions of the ‘people-smugglers who are preying on vulnerable people,’ with no mention of their own unwillingness to help them.

Blanka Dudas, has had enough. After fleeing her own home at the age of 19, during the Balkan wars, she has successfully built a life for herself as an Australian migrant for over 20 years.

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Blanka Dudas, behind the scenes at the #ICAMEBYBOAT campaign shoot.

Blanka, a professional make-up artist, is the driving force behind the soon to be launched #ICAMEBYBOAT campaign, along with photographer Lucas Allen.

“I’m doing it because I feel like the mainstream media and politics here have done their best to dehumanize asylum seekers and refugees. I was a refugee myself and I can sort of put myself in their shoes. We need to try and humanize these people again, and say ‘hey these are people just like us’.” Blanka told YR in an interview.

#ICAMEBYBOAT has so far raised over 75K through the local crowdfunding platform Chuffed, with an expected launch in April 2016. You will soon see beautifully designed posters pasted across Melbourne alongside a gallery exhibition, featuring photographs of integrated asylum seekers, by photographer Lucas Allen.

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“[I thought] if we photograph them and put part of their story on the poster to show that they are people living here, they are working here, they are sending their kids to school. They are basically just like us except they had the misfortune of being born in an area that is really troubled.” She says.

The campaign has received a barrage of attention from individuals and media, even the likes of AJ+ made a campaign video.

 

And it’s been endoresed by none other than vocal Greens leader, Adam Bandt.

 

But Blanka says she’s not just preaching to the choir. Her designs have a specific target.

“I thought that the more minimal the posters, the more official they look, the more likely they will get the attention of the people who actually think asylum seekers are a problem.”

“We have tried to stay away from the political debate, we want to present it as a humanitarian case.”

The message is simple.

“There is no argument about this, these are people and they need help, and once they are given help, they are contributing and they are making Australia better.”

There are hundreds of thousands of displaced people around the world and with globalization becoming more than just an online reality, the politics of seeking asylum needs to change.

“I saw a campaign in the UK called ‘I am an immigrant’ and I thought that something positive is really needed at this point [here in Australia].

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Behind the scenes at the #ICAMEBYBOAT campaign shoot. Source Blanka Dudas

Sourcing individuals to feature in the campaign has been the biggest hurdle.

“I did think that part would be easier. I thought getting funding would be difficult… People have suffered a lot so they’re not really that keen to be telling their story, they just want to forget about it and move on.”

“We printed out flyers on the weekend and we went to Dandenong. My little boy, my four year old, was handing out flyers. My little activist!… I guess he’s the cutest one so people cant refuse him.”

“This weekend we’ll probably go to Footscray and do the same. We’re trying to find diverse suburbs where we will hopefully find people who might want to join us.” She says.

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Behind the scenes at the #ICAMEBYBOAT campaign shoot. Source Blanka Dudas

As the interest grows, so do the number of participants, but they are always looking for more brave people to join.

“We are hoping to get more women, as we have quiet a lot of men. We’ve got people from Vietnam, Hazaras from Iran, someone from Iraq and Sri Lanka. It would be great to have more diversity, people from African countries, Burma, Pakistan.” She says.

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Behind the scenes at the #ICAMEBYBOAT campaign shoot. Source Blanka Dudas

Having raised so much money through crowdfunding Blanka says she determined to make this project the best it can possibly be.

“It has fully taken up all of my time, my son walks around the house saying, I came by boat, I came by boat.” She smiles and continues, “[but] I have met some amazing people through it and if it makes one bit of difference then it was worth it.”

If you are interested in donating to the campaign you can do so here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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