PAT APPAUL PHOTOGRAPHY

Oasis

A couple of years ago, after I had returned from a few years living in Iraqi Kurdistan I was lost and adrift in Cardiff, South Wales, my home. It was a strange time to be home, the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean had hit full swing and was getting a higher level of media attention due to the people specifically fleeing the Syrian civil war. As a photographer that wanted to move in some way towards being a documentarian, I felt this was my opportunity to start some form of career or portfolio, this would be my break and step into the next phase of my life.

It wasn’t. I was broke, I had no connections, no idea of how to make contacts, a very limited grasp of Arabic (enough to order tea/falafel/shish and ask where the police were) and a high level of anxiety attached to finding my self back in Wales after being denied entry to the country I was working, and therefore out of a job I was hugely passionate about. It was at this point during a conversation with a dear friend (Becky), that Oasis came up. Oasis is a Refugee day centre east of Cardiff’s town centre that provides a safe space for refugees who were navigating the bureaucracy of UK residency. 

It was a place for people to develop community and connections, to share stories and dreams, to share food and culture and slowly become accustomed to being safe, free and welcomed. I immediately went to volunteer and shortly after began to take pictures.
Although I was looking for images to launch some form of career, what I found instead was an international family on my doorstep, a family despite the immense and unfathomable tragedy it had suffered, had a sense of joy, love, and playfulness.



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