Earth Voices - Nabil’s Story

By Ella Trudgeon, Digital Content Creator and Illustrator 

Nabil Amini is a refugee from Iran and Afghanistan. He talks to our digital content creator, Ella Trudgeon, about displacement, nature, and how he’s reconnecting with his love for science.  

Displacement is threaded throughout Nabil’s life. He is one of the 84 million forcibly displaced people across the planet who have uprooted their lives in search of safety - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, 2022

Aged 3, his family fled Afghanistan and moved to Iran in search of safety and opportunities that could carry the family to security. There, they struggled to access education and healthcare due to their refugee status. 6 years ago, Nabil's family migrated to the UK in search of safe surgery for his brother and treatment for Nabil’s epilepsy.  

“My dad and brother came by boat, in a lorry. My brother was only 7 or 8 years old.”  

 




Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022 

I asked Nabil where home is. “Home is here,” he said, “I’m not thinking about the past or future.” 

Now that he feels settled, Nabil volunteers with Bristol Refugee Rights. This is where we met. He had kind eyes as he welcomed people into the community space at Barton Hill. For many asylum seekers, Bristol Refugee Rights is a safe shelter in an unfamiliar and dangerous world. The charity welcomes and supports people going through the asylum system and campaigns for the human rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK.  

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon, 2022 

Migration impacted Nabil’s childhood dream of becoming a scientist. He wanted to study biology to understand the environmental changes he was noticing, such as the dying trees that could no longer bear fruit. “I was there, I saw this happening, people noticed it, we felt it.”  

Unfair restrictions on refugees in Iran prevented Nabil from studying biology. He left his dreams of becoming a scientist behind, taking only his clothes and his memories.  

Nabil’s story of displacement is not rare. He spoke of how his friends had to move their lives because they could no longer access clean drinking water. Extreme environmental changes are already forcing more than 20 million people to move within their countries each year, and the increasing pressures of the climate crisis hint that these numbers will only grow. UNHRC, the UN Refugee Agency, 2022

According to the UN International Organization for Migration, forecasts range from 25 million to over 1 billion climate refugees by 2050. Without a doubt, climate change is displacing people today.  

Social injustice, such as political conflict and poverty, leave people less resilient against ecological threats and forced to move. The struggles of asylum seekers are exacerbated by climate change. Without shelter and resources, many displaced people become increasingly vulnerable to the extremes of the climate crisis.  

For example, in Bristol, asylum seekers without the legal right to work are vulnerable to homelessness. Bristol Refugee Rights offers advice, connects people with shelter, and supports people throughout the asylum process. 

 

Artwork by Ella Trudgeon and Nabil Amini, 2022

Now that he has found a home in the UK, Nabil has reconnected with science through art. His work integrates themes of nature and political conflict and brings light to the interconnection of climate change and displacement.  

Knowing the challenges of learning new languages in foreign lands, he believes art is the universal language that can connect us. Nabil’s art is interwoven into my portrait of him. He wants to communicate the responsibility that humans have to protect nature and each other in ways that are accessible and empowering. When we understand environmental and social issues, we can act to solve them. 

Having spent time learning who Nabil is, I see his own artwork as a beautiful expression of his gentleness, joyfulness, and generosity. He dances through conversation with a lightness that uplifts anyone listening, like soft brushstrokes that brighten a page. It’s easy to see his smiles, hear his laughter, and not realise the unimaginable journey his family has taken to reach safety. As our time together came to a close, I asked him what he wants Bristol to know about refugees. “We are not coming for fun,” he told me, “we are coming for survival.” 

In Bristol, we can welcome asylum seekers and refugees as valuable societal members that strengthen our communities and deepen our culture. Safety, education and healthcare are our human rights. Find out how you can support Bristol Refugee Rights to raise the visibility, voice and representation of asylum seekers and refugees in our city.  

This content was produced by our Digital Content Creator, Ella Trudgeon, as part of a placement funded by the West of England Combined Authority Creative Business Grant

About Ella Trudgeon:  

Ella is a multi-disciplinary Bristol-based creative, who makes work about climate and social justice. She is passionate about reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals through powerful, inclusive narratives that inspire collaborative action. 

Huge thanks to Nabil for sharing his story. Big thanks also to Creative Tuition for their mentorship and support. 

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