Actress Emma Thompson is speaking out in support of refugees, relating the challenges her adopted son Tindy Agaba has faced in his life as a refugee.
According to People, The Cruella star wrote in an essay for The Times of London how her son “has flourished and grown in a million different ways” since coming to Britain, but that he also experienced “shocking incidents” as he started his life anew in the UK. When Thompson met Agaba as a 16-year-old at a 2003 Christmas charity event she created with the Refugee Council, he didn’t speak much English, resulting in him and Thompson speaking in “a combination of sign language, laughing [and] smiling.”
As he learned English, Agaba began to tell her of his life, including being kidnapped and being forced to become a child soldier.
“When a person has been ‘othered’…when their status and motives have been doubted in the press and by voices of government, their humanity is often reduced in other people’s eyes,” she wrote. “[They] all too easily become seen as a burden at best and at worst as grasping interlopers.” She wrote that The Refugee Council is “a wonderfully practical organisation because it combined a raft of services (like a sort of Citizens Advice Bureau) for the people who might not have any access to the resources they needed and also who required a lot of different kinds of support, ariving as they so often did with nothing but the clothes on their back.”
“Witnessing Tindy growing up has been a continual lesson in the day-to-day challenges that refugees and asylum-seekers face–from language and not being able to express yourself or to say what you need, which is a very vulnerable position to be in, to finding the right kind of schooling, to facing everyday racism,” she continued.
She described how Agaba is now employed in England's Criminal Investigation Department, married to an "extraordinary" wife and maintains "wonderful friendships."
Through Agaba’s experiences, Thompson illustrated how refugees are often pillars of their adopted countries.
“[Refugees] can become not only hugely useful members of society but peculiarly gifted ones…They have an unusual resilience and they see this place, this country, in a very original way. And they take nothing for granted unlike, let’s face it, a lot of us who haven’t come here under those circumstances. So what they have to offer as citizens of this country is often profoundly valuable.”
Thompson is currently playing Miss Trunchbull in the film adaptation of the musical Matilda. Filming is currently in progress and features No Time to Die star Lashana Lynch as Miss Honey and Rocketman star Carl Spencer as Magnus the Escapologist.