Altair Guimarães

Teenage Refugee Turns Comic Book Hero

Comic book "Over Under Sideways Down" is the moving story of a young refugee who fled home in fear for his life and went on to secure a place at university and won a part in an award-winning film. It tells the story of Ebrahim Esmail who was exiled from Iran when he was 15 following the murder of his father. The illustrations detail the painful lows of Ebrahim's experiences — from traveling on foot to Turkey with no food or water, to being carried for 15 days in the back of a lorry to the U.K. But it also charts highs, such as winning a place on his dream course at London's Brunel University and being cast in "Leave to Remain" — a film about asylum seekers by BAFTA-winning director Bruce Goodison. Esmail, now 19, tells Thomson Reuters Foundation how he kept going and shares his dreams for the future. The novel was commissioned by the British Red Cross for Refugee Week 2014.


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The Resilience of Children

The future of our communities lies in protecting our most vulnerable yet most resilient members: our children. But often, children are the first victims of war and poverty. Many face horrifying events and live with the trauma for the rest of their lives. Despite this, some children survive these events to become leaders of their communities and voices for peace.

Storytelling Across the Globe

Virtual reality experiences, comic books, and architectural mapping are all forms of storytelling being used by artists and activists around the world to raise awareness of social problems. From calling out sexual assault in India to documenting war crimes in Gaza, these modes of communication are connecting people to issues across the world.

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Taboo Health Issues

Many communities around the world see disease and mental illness not as something to be treated, but as something to be feared. As a result, many suffering from curable conditions are stigmatized within their communities. But through education and organizing, some people are challenging these stigmas and addressing previously taboo health issues.

Green at What Price?

In the name of environmental restoration, the Ugandan government is expanding the country’s forest reserves in order to sell into the global carbon credit market. But this program comes at a high human cost as the state is displacing long established villages, forcing people to relocate, and jailing those opposing the program.

One Man, One City, Three Evictions

Rio de Janeiro has experienced several waves of development in the past century. For Altair Guimaraes the changes have affected him directly. Brought up in a favela, he has been evicted three times as a result of Rio’s developments. As Brazil tries to gain global recognition and increase tourism, locals like Altair are forced to relocate despite property titles. Now, their struggles are becoming a symbol of a global phenomenon.