A Bournemouth University graduate has seen his story hit national headlines, after he reunited two brothers separated in Afghanistan when their home was burned down.
Ed Lawrence has been working as a freelance journalist for BBC and ITN, focusing on finding stories in The Jungle, the refugee base in Calais, France.
It was here that he first hit upon the story of two young Afghan men; Noor and Alam. Ed said, “I was out there filming for ITN in May and when there had a brief encounter with an Afghan boy who mentioned that he had a brother in the UK. I didn’t think I would be able to help very much but I asked him about his background and his story and I gave the boy my number and told him to give me a call if he got in any trouble.”
As the story unfolded, Alam’s home had been set on fire and his father killed by a local warlord. Alam and his mother fled to Pakistan. When Noor returned home, he found his family gone so made the journey to Europe and, eventually, England. Neither brother knew of the other’s whereabouts, or whether they were still alive.
Ed, pictured hosting BU's UK election coverage in 2015, continued, “The boy kept calling me to ask me to find his brother. I actually found out that the boy, Alam, had met a man in Pakistan in a café and this man, on holiday visiting family from England, was flicking through some pictures on his phone and in one of those pictures was his brother Noor and then realised that his brother is alive and in England, so he made the journey to Europe by himself.”
Ed managed to get hold of the number of the man that Alam met in Pakistan and called him up to see if he could make a link that would bring him to Noor. Finally Ed’s contacts came through and he was given the contact details for Noor and arranged to go and meet him.
The story continued, “I called up Noor, living in London, and I asked him some details about his family and his background, all of the things the young boy had told me in the Calais camp, and everything matched up, so I headed to London to meet him in person.
“At first I didn’t tell him any details because I wanted to be sure everything matched up. Eventually I was confident enough to say ‘I think I’ve met your brother’ – I called the boy in Calais and put him on to Noor and asked them to check the details of the story with each other and, sure enough, it looked as though these two young men were brothers!”
The older brother saved some money and made the journey to go and visit his younger sibling in Calais, with Ed in tow to film the entire reunion for the BBC.
Ed concluded, “It has taken a few months to get together as we had to run a lot of checks to make sure that these two were brothers, we are confident in knowing that they are related. But I’m very pleased it all worked out and the story made it out there.”
Ed started freelancing for the BBC during his final year on his Television Production course at Bournemouth University, continuing to work freelance since graduating. His work takes him to The Jungle at least once a month.
Speaking about his course and offering advice to students currently studying at BU, Ed said, “My TV course did prepare me, it got my legs running to do this sort of work. A lot of the stuff I learned on my course taught me to get out there, find things and make films and that got me noticed by the BBC, who asked me to come and make some programmes for them during the final year of my studies.
“It was actually a University project that first got me involved in the whole Calais and migrant story back in 2012 and since then, because of the connections I have made, the broadcasters have sent me out time and time again. The course has been very helpful.”
The story was initially broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s flagship Today Programme and published on the BBC website, before Ed himself was interviewed by BBC World Service and BBC World News television.
You can read the story of Noor and Alam in full on the BBC website, with BU graduate Ed Lawrence credited in the byline: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-36768015