BECKY FINLAY HALL
Becky trained as an actor at London’s Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, and has worked extensively as an actor and facilitator with some of the UK’s leading Community Theatre and Arts companies. Responding to the growing need for a level of psychological support in much of Olive Branch’s work she completed an MA in Drama and Movement Therapy at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Becky runs a private practice for individuals & groups in North and South London. She is also Head of Creative Arts Therapies for the charity www.playforprogress.com. She has presented work at The Sesame Institute, University College London, London School of Economics Refugee Week, PPLG Conference Thessaloniki, Storytelling for Refuge/Storytelling as Refuge University of South Wales, Bristol Fair Saturday & Rebel Tuesdays.
MOHAMED SULAIMAN LABAT
Mohamed is an artist and poet who lives & works on the Sahrawi Refugee Camps, exploring & creating art to impact and inspire change in his community. Recently he built, by hand, Motif Art Studio. Using discarded materials he created a space for educational and artistic endeavours.
Mohamed is involved in a number of projects collaborating with local & global artists & organisations; all his work focuses on the power of the arts and its relationship with political & social change.
SAHRAWI PROJECT MANAGER
David trained at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, and has recently completed an MA in Theatre for Young Audiences at Rose Bruford College. As an actor he has toured nationally and internationally, and performed in repertory seasons across the UK including a season at the National Theatre.
In recent years, he has focused on creating work for, by and with young people. He is a highly experienced director and facilitator, working creatively with young people across a wide variety of settings, including hard to reach groups or those identified as at risk. Recent projects include the roles of Drama Practitioner and Curriculum Advisor to The Challenge Network – a leading UK National Citizenship Service provider – and as Assistant Director on ‘Tales from the River Thames’, a co-production between NIE and the Unicorn Theatre.
Sam is a London-based poet, part of the Hammer & Tongue collective. His work has been published by Influx Press, including the book Settled Wanderers, a collection of his own poems and translated poems from his time with Sahrawi refugees, begun during his first visit to the camps with Olive Branch Arts. He has now stayed on the camps on four occasions over the last six years, and continues to maintain contact with Sahrawi friends from the camps through email and social media, He has hosted and spoken at events and demonstrations promoting the cause of Sahrawi self-determination, written articles for newspapers, and spoken about Settled Wanderers on the Tariq Ali show on Telesur TV and on radio stations including Soho Radio and the BBC World Service.
Settled Wanderers can be purchased from the Influx Press website.
Emma is an award-winning portrait and humanitarian photographer. She has been working alongside Olive Branch Arts and documenting their work with the Sahrawi refugee community since 2012. As a visual storyteller, Emma is intrigued by the poetic character of people and looks for the beauty in imperfection and small, seemingly unimportant and everyday things. Her calm and meditative approach to photography enable her to go almost unnoticed, allowing her to create lyrical, humanistic images.
Emma’s photograph of two Sahrawi women collecting their rations on Samara refugee camp has recently won the UN World Food Programme Food for Life category at the Food Photographer of the Year Awards 2017.
Matt is an established London musician and workshop leader; Matt has been working in the city for nearly 20 years. He has worked as a session musician with Island records, had his work performed in Trafalgar Square and held numerous long-term Jazz residencies. He continues to teach with the Roundhouse, Mousetrap Theatre projects and has had his life profoundly changed by his visit to the Sahrawi camps.
He delivered music workshops in Lalandala School, produced a soundtrack with Sahrawi musicians for the photography exhibition and performed with Sam Berkson at the first Sahrawi Hip-Hop festival.
He looks forward to continuing the struggle for Sahrawi independence.
CHAKER MOHAMMED, ZORGAN LAROUSSI, LEJLIFA MAHMOUD
L-R: Chaker Mohammed, Zorgan Laroussi, Lejlifa Mahmoud. Our translators and the father figures in our Sahrawi families. An integral part of the Olive Branch team since the beginning, we couldn’t run the projects we do without their incredible translation skills, boundless enthusiasm and ability to make anything happen anywhere.