Daniel Farey-Jones
Jun 21, 2023

Uncommon creates series connecting refugees with YouTube creators

‘We were here’ emerges from a partnership between YouTube and the United Nations.

Uncommon creates series connecting refugees with YouTube creators

Uncommon has created and produced a series of three short documentaries, in association with Lief, that each show YouTube creators and refugees bonding over a shared interest: music, growing food and toymaking.

The agency also created the dandelion branding for the series, which is called "We were here" and debuted on YouTube yesterday (20 June) to mark World Refugee Day.

Charlie Gatsky​, chief production officer at Uncommon, said: “The power of these films is the message it shares — one of solidarity — focusing on what unites us rather than sets us apart.”

The three YouTube creators, who have a collective audience of six million subscribers, are DJ and producer Jax Jones, vegan chef and permaculture enthusiast Gaz Oakley, and inventor Simone Giertz.

The important job of finding the refugee contributors was undertaken by documentary casting directors and Bafta nominees Six Minutes.

Jones met displaced Ukranian-Ethopian sisters Betty, Siona and Miriam, who form hip-hop trio Fo Sho, in Stuttgart in “The musicians”, directed by Laura Checkaway.

Oakley joined up with Bemeriki Dusabe, a Congolese refugee who teaches people in Uganda how to grow their food in a self-sustaining environment (known as permaculture), in “The permaculturist”, directed by Mahmoud Al Massad.
Giertz was paired with Syrian grandfather Mohammad Waheed, who makes toys at Azraq refugee camp in the middle of the Jordanian desert. They build a toy helicopter together in “The toymaker”, also directed by Al Massad.
The team behind the project include Honey Boy director Alma Har’el overseeing the series as executive producer and Checkoway on board as series director as well as the director of “The musicians”.
“Refugees leave so much behind to find safety, but they carry with them their creativity, and we have to work harder to give them the opportunity to pursue their passions,” said Dominique Hyde, director of UNHCR’s Division for External Relations.

“UNHCR is delighted to partner with YouTube to spotlight the creative energy of refugees, and we are privileged that these refugee creators have allowed us to share their stories. We extend our thanks to YouTube and the three content creators for helping bring these experiences to their audiences.”

The title of the series, “We were here”, refers to the idea of the films celebrating the refugees leaving a permanent mark of their creativity in the midst of transit.


Campaign UK

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