On October 3rd the opening night of the Stay With Love exhibition at The Sound Lounge in Tooting saw a very diverse group of 75 join in to celebrate the exhibition. There were teenagers, families and young children from the asylum-seeking and refugee community who are served by CARAS. There were many of the CARAS team of staff and volunteers, and lots of TTT volunteers. All have been contributing to the creative and expressive work that makes up the exhibiton.
Plus there were friends old and new from the wider community – it was a great welcoming mix from many countries!

Carrie was our MC for the night. She welcomed everyone and reminded us that the offer to ‘Stay With Love’ had been written in July on one of the pallet-benches made in the Youth Club. That’s a poignant invitation for a young refugee to make.
We saw the delightful CARAS Youth Club short film: two minutes capturing the experience of sharing and value that many of us have enjoyed as volunteers over the past two and a half years. We’ll add a weblink asap.

Hannah White, co-founder of the Sound Lounge, celebrated the work and good humour of the young people from CARAS who are doing certificated training as coffee baristas and as sound engineers at the café.

We shared poems and prose linked to the experiences of living in and valuing a new place, of changing perceptions and of new languages and relationships. Here is a poem read and written  by Resina Chowdhury:


To move away from a land

We must break ourselves off it completely. 

The split leaves a wound

a loss of memory, huge and gaping

which nothing material can fill. 

O Mother of a false birth, 

you were not ready for me. 

Where was the milk to offer your baby, all drained of blood? 

Dying, I was taken to where

the milk was plentiful

where there was blood to give, rich and warm

and we survived, 

more or less, weaned by another. 

But cannot forget those who held us before. 

What is the treatment for the loss of a culture? 

To see oneself continue in history? 

What can be said when the spirit is forgotten? 

When a life is not nurtured

because it is not understood? 

Still we seek out a tongue that will define. 


Teach me who I am. 

Give me knowledge to recover myself. 

Give me understanding to fill the loss. 

Give me strength to withstand hostility. 

Give me love to endure.  

We had live music of many kinds –

Dermot and Gerri led half an hour where the children 
used all the percussion instruments we could find. 
They were the backing band for extempore songs with words taken from some of the CARAS participants’ statements about their heroes or ambitions.
David sang about Cristiano Ronaldo, Carrie sang
‘I Want to Be a Dentist’, Emiliano drummed…all fantastic!
Shonar Spiral from London played two gutsy songs.

Fadhil Alfadly and Kaspar King from Iraq rapped in Arabic over iPhone tracks and live drumming. One of the children stayed on to accompany their songs: she was very composed.

Dermot played a solo set as conversation continued until it was time to tidy up and head home after a lovely evening together.

Please visit The Sound Lounge and enjoy the exhibition any time the café is open. There are two interactive pieces alongside the wide range of creative work done by the Youth Club, the Family Groups and the ESOL classes.
There’s a comments book set up, you can take a CARAS or TTT leaflet and please get in touch with CARAS or TTT if you want to know more, or if you want to find out how to volunteer. 
Please take a #StayWithLove sticker or two and ask your friends to visit!