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New Refugee to Entrepreneur exhibition opens in London

Award-winning photographer Kate Holt’s Piccadilly exhibition is an eye-opening walk through the lives of Ugandan refugees and their fight for opportunity.

Tucked behind St James’s Church, Piccadilly, you will find a quiet break of green surrounded by old trees and public benches.

This spot, where busy workers come to eat their lunches and passers-by stop to read has been transformed into Opportunity International’s new exhibition – Refugee to Entrepreneur: All they need is opportunity.

You can’t miss the life size photographs of refugees placed in the Southwood Gardens. They fill the entire green space and act as a larger-than-life pop-up book. With each step a page is turned as the remarkable stories from refugees in Uganda keep you engaged and in awe.

Credit: Eden Sparke/Arete

The images, hard to ignore, show a snapshot into the lives of the refugees that photographer and journalist Kate Holt encountered on her last visit to East Africa – before covid struck.

The information provided alongside the images gives an insight into the determined and ambitious individuals projected on the posters.

Kate Holt says the refugees aren’t asking for much, just the power of opportunity, which is a key area of focus for the exhibition.

‘All the refugees we met had experienced traumatic events. But they all remain determined to make their lives better by running a business to improve their lives and those of their families.’

Opportunity International has spent 50 years developing and delivering financial solutions that enable people living in poverty to increase their incomes, send their children to school, and transform their lives.

The exhibition highlights what even the smallest of opportunities can mean to these individuals in need. The stories told on the posters show how financial loans and training can make all the difference to those attempting to make their way out of poverty.

Credit: Eden Sparke/Arete

Dreams of owning a small plot of land, to build a house, or open a local restaurant are just some of the personal takeaways that breathe life into the images taken by Holt.

Uganda is one of twenty countries supported by Opportunity International. The charity is working with the refugees in Uganda to provide them with financial loans and training that enable them to work their own way out of poverty.

The pop-up exhibition’s presentation of the human experience lived by refugees and the disproportionate lack of access they have to fair opportunities is both assertive and eloquent.

Credit: Eden Sparke/Arete

Holt says, ‘the stories we were told back then and what I learned from the people I met are more relevant than ever.’

It is impossible to leave the Southwood Gardens without thinking about how we ourselves can contribute to the global effort helping refugees in the current crisis we are facing.

If you want to immerse yourself in this experience tucked away in the heart of London, Refugee to Entrepreneur: All they need is opportunity is a free exhibition planted in Southwood Gardens, Piccadilly. The exhibition is open daily, from 8 am to 5.30 pm from September 20th to October 8th.

Want to find out more? Visit the Opportunity International website here for more information.