Strangers No More (2010)
40min · Documentary, Short · 24 September 2010
In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from forty-eight different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin School fleeing poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. The film follows several students' struggle to acclimate to life in a new land while slowly opening up to share their stories of hardship and tragedy: Mohammed, a sixteen-year-old refugee from Darfur, witnessed the killing of his grandmother and father before escaping alone through Egypt to Israel. Having never been in a school before, his sharp mind and tremendous determination enable him to make up the years of study he never had. Johannes arrived at Bialik-Rogozin after spending most of his life in refugee camps across the Middle East. His father struggles to obtain a work visa while twelve-year-old Johannes struggles to adjust to attending school for the first time. After a slow start, his teachers realize that he is nearly blind in one eye and take him to an eye clinic. With his new glasses, before long, he is reading and writing - and helping other newcomers to adjust. After the murder of her mother, Esther and her father fled South Africa with nothing, in search of safety and peace of mind. At Bialik-Rogozin, they are welcomed with clothing, food and counsel on beginning a new life. Esther's teachers try to relieve the trauma of a nine-year-old girl who believes her mother will return. With tremendous effort and dedication, the school provides the support these children need to recover from their past. Together, the bond between teacher and student, and amongst the students themselves, enables them to create new lives in this exceptional community. Upon graduation, Mohammed provides the finest evidence of the school's ultimate success -- declaring his dream to return to Darfur and build a school for the children of the village he once fled.
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