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Introducing Lamp Lifeboat Ladder [VIDEO]

Jayne Fleming

Our international project director and creative inspiration Jayne Fleming describes Lamp Lifeboat Ladder and why it is such a unique and special initiative in this video.

The name ‘Lamp Lifeboat Ladder’ comes from a Rumi poem, ‘Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.’ The name was chosen by survivors of torture and sexual violence in our project. The project began many years ago in Haiti and has grown into a project operating in Europe and the Middle East.

We are a team of lawyers, doctors, advocates and other experts who speak 11 languages and who live all over the world. We are so proud that Reed Smith LLP has been a champion of this project for many years, and we are very grateful for this support.

At Lamp Lifeboat Ladder we use the word ‘survivor’ rather than ‘refugee’, because most people who’ve been forced to flee their homes don’t like being associated with the word ‘refugee’ as they find it humiliating and shameful and feel objectified by it. We use the term ‘survivor’ as they have survived so much – from being forced to flee their homes, treacherous and often violent journeys, to living in camps and to the country they will resettle in and rebuild their lives. 

Lamp Lifeboat Ladder’s pilot project is built upon a public private partnership with the Government of Canada. We identify people who have experienced torture and/or sexual and gender-based violence who are currently in Greece and Jordan to be resettled in Canada.  We work with very vulnerable people, often with women who have fled gender-based violence in their countries of origin and often also on their journeys as well in transit countries.

A unique element to Lamp Lifeboat Ladder is that we provide holistic accompaniment to survivors in our project, whereby we immediately work with survivors to identify what their needs are. They may need medical care, safe accommodation, access to education, or therapeutic support and we help them to arrange this. We will then start to work on their cases, but only once they feel safe. The level of trauma that many of the survivors in our project have experienced means they may require extra support and rehabilitation, which we are able to provide. We walk alongside and support survivors from when they first enter the project for two years or until they achieve the level of independence and self-reliance they are happy with. 

Another unique aspect to Lamp Lifeboat Ladder is that we are survivor-led and survivor-centred, which means that survivors define, guide and lead the project; and all of our activities have the needs and desires of survivors as their focus.  We have a Survivors Council in the project, where 13 torture survivors teach us how to design and build our project.

Lamp Lifeboat Ladder is privately funded, which also makes it different from other resettlement programmes.  We raise money from private donors, Reed Smith attorneys and other individuals who want to support survivors in their resettlement journey and in rebuilding their lives.

If you would like to donate to Lamp Lifeboat Ladder, please visit our Donate page.

About the author

Sophie McCann

Sophie McCann is a program director and advocate with experience in international development and human rights advocacy in the UK and internationally. She specializes in refugee and migrants’ rights and community-based mental health and gender programming. Sophie is part of the Lamp Lifeboat Ladder team focusing on organizational development and communications.

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