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'Mediafugees': New Website Invites Refugees From All Over To Share Their Own Stories

A silhouette of John Nyembo walks against a blurry background in a black-and-white photograph
Célia Dehouche
Mediafugees, courtesy
John Nyembo, pictured, talked about his experience in Canada after being granted asylum in an essay for the new website Mediafugees. The site is just over a month old and aims to provide a platform for refugees to tell their stories in their own words.

The plights of people forced from their homes have been reported all over the world, but one journalist in Montreal has decided to tell these stories by creating a platform for the refugees to tell the stories themselves.

"We are really into, you know, displaying stories from all around the world because we believe the refugee issue is a global issue," said journalist Camille Teste, co-founder of the new website Mediafugees.

Teste recently spoke to VPR about why she felt it was important to create a space for refugees to tell their stories in their own words and pictures.

Listen above to the conversation between Teste and VPR's Mitch Wertlieb.

"Nowadays everybody has something to say about exile — so journalists, politicians, researchers," Teste said, adding she feels that can result in a lack of attention to those experiencing it firsthand.

"How can we hope to improve the refugee issue if we don't give voice to people actually in the situation?" she said.

People like Mohamed, who fled Iraq with his family and whose story is told in installments on Mediafugees.

"It's really moving," Teste said about Mohamed's story. "It's just a normal man with a normal family. He has a pretty good job in Iraq. .... He was going to have kids. And then because of the war, everything collapsed. So he had to leave."


"How can we hope to improve the refugee issue if we don't give voice to people actually in the situation?" — Camille Teste, co-founder of Mediafugees

Mediafugees is just over a month old. Visitors to the website are able to leave comments, and Teste said the response so far has been positive. Teste said she credits that to the fact that the stories told "are pretty human."

"I mean, you can relate to the stories," Teste continued. "Definitely. You and I, we can relate to the stories."

Teste said one goal of Mediafugees is to feature stories told in a variety of different ways: "Maybe a bit of radio, videos — why not drawing as well?"

Additionally, Teste said, the platform wants to remind others to keep putting people dealing with hardship "at the center of the conversation."

"We also would like a refugee person, you know, to become the head of Mediafugees," Teste said, "because we really believe if we do that, we're going to be very accurate."

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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