This month, students and staff at the Academy of St Francis of Assisi will be coming together in memory of the millions of people murdered during the holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.
In the run up to Holocaust Memorial Day, the academy plans to combine past and present and look at how ethnic groups still face prejudice and discrimination today.
Head of history, Miss Kate Allen identified that within the student community are Roma children and families. Roma or Romani originated in the Punjab region of northern India as nomadic people and entered Europe between the eighth and tenth centuries.
Hundreds of thousands of Roma people were killed during the holocaust. Miss Allen wanted to incorporate this part of history into the curriculum and reached out to students who identified themselves as Roma to find out more about their heritage.
Many students told their stories of how they are still persecuted in countries across Europe for their Roma background, for example, not being allowed into shops and being bullied in school in their home countries. They identified links between the persecution of Jews and other minorities in the early days of the Nazi regime and of discrimination that still goes on today.
Students then used their imagination to draw pictures relating to a story about Raymond Gureme, a Romani holocaust survivor. The drawings were then incorporated into an animation video with voiceovers by several students. The video was created by animator, Linda Bennett.
Miss Allen said: “Every year, we commemorate Holocaust Memorial Day and think about all those people who needlessly lost their lives.
“There is so much be learnt through our vibrant community at ASFA and by looking into the history of Romani people and Raymond Gureme, it will help our students gain a better understanding of the Holocaust over the next few weeks until the Memorial Day on 27 January.”
The animation can be viewed on BenoToonz YouTube channel.