As the world descends into a grim reality with the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the globe with no signs of slowing down, many people are finding themselves in situations they might not have thought of before.
One such person is Hassan Akkad, an award-winning Syrian filmmaker, who is working as a hospital cleaner for the NHS in London. The 32-year-old who arrived in the UK in 2015, made an appeal for people all over the world to embrace diversity at this crucial time, reported The Independent.
Honoured to join an army of cleaners disinfecting Covid wards our local hospital after receiving training. London has been my home since leaving Syria, and the least I can do is making sure my neighbours and the amazing NHS staff are safe and sound. #StayHomeSaveLives pic.twitter.com/7XkBwSiXW8— Hassan Akkad حسان عقاد (@hassan_akkad) April 7, 2020
First going viral with a tweet that he posted on April 7, the young filmmaker then found himself on Good Morning Britain. The tweet that got the attention of 89.6k people on Twitter read, "London has been my home since leaving Syria, and the least I can do is making sure my neighbours and the amazing NHS staff are safe and sound."
Hassan used his Good Morning Britain opportunity to further an important message. "The nurses, ward hosts, cleaners and the porters are the spine of the hospital. And they are from everywhere, the Caribbean, Chad, the Philippines, Spain, Poland," said Hassan, in tears as he spoke.
"I hope if this teaches us one thing, it teaches us to be kinder to one another despite where we come from. I hope this changes us for the best," he added.
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Behind the scenes with Ayham, a super sweet boy from Aleppo who is the lead the actor in the short film @adnanshortfilm which I produced recently. Adnan is about trauma, creativity and the rather more difficult journey refugees embark on after arriving to their destination. Proud of Ayham, this film and the people who helped make it. We will have a screening soon and let you all know about it x 📸 @pasco.photography
"The horrible news I was hearing about nurses and doctors at the front getting infected motivated me to take on the job because I knew disinfecting and cleaning would help," he said. He subsequently signed for NHS' volunteering scheme. “Britain for me is home now, and I’ve already lost my home in Syria. I don’t want to lose another home," he said tearfully.
Hassan, who has never worked in a hospital before, served as a teacher in Syria before seeking asylum in the UK as a refugee and taking up documentary film-making.
As a teacher in Syria, Hassan starting attending peaceful protests. “My activism led to me being detained and tortured – twice – and I eventually had to leave,” he shared.
He then undertook a long journey through Europe during the refugee crisis in 2015, filming everything on his way. His work was featured in the BBC documentary Exodus: Our Journey to Europe, which went on to win multiple awards – including a Bafta and an Emmy.
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