• Between Borders' team is made up of practitioners whose background crosses various fields, including international law, humanitarian practice, neuroscience, innovation, journalism, and theatre.


    The team is based primarily in London as well as Syria, Boston, and Amman.

  • Vanessa Thevathasan



    Before setting up Between Borders, Vanessa was a freelance journalist and researcher working with a range of media, community and non-profit organisations on armed violence reduction, Disaster Risk Reduction, peacebuilding, sustainable development, and human insecurity.


    She founded the Mental Health and Forced Displacement Consortium - a network of global partners working on mental health and displacement to facilitate bigger and more consistent collaboration between partners in the field. The Consortium is managed by Between Borders.


    Vanessa has a background in Law (LLB, SOAS) and International Relations (BA, Cambridge). She is on the board of Grassroot Diplomat.

    Mike Niconchuk



    Michael (Mike) Niconchuk has spent 7 years learning from post-conflict and displaced communities in Latin America and the Middle East, and has worked extensively with young people at risk of violence and conflict with the law. For three years, after the start of the Syrian conflict, Mike worked as an Emergency Response Coordinator in Za'atri Refugee Camp in Jordan, leading to various projects for violence reduction, youth leadership, and alternative education. Since then, Mike has worked with Syrian refugees across various stages of their migration journey - from Greece, to Germany, to Canada, and the United States - conducting research on the links between forced displacement, trauma, social cognition, decision-making, and social behaviour. Now, Mike works with various organisations leveraging insights from brain science to design and improving approaches to refugee inclusion, youth participation, and violence prevention. In 2016, Mike was named an Innovation Fellow at Beyond Conflict, where he continues to develop his research on the psychology and neurobiology of displacement, violence and marginalisation.


    Mike holds degrees from Tufts University and University College London, where he was also a Fulbright Scholar.

    Al-Rahim Moosa



    Al-Rahim Moosa has worked for the past five years with Focus Humanitarian Assistance, an affilitate of the Aga Khan Development Network. He has conducted research on the resettlement of Afghan refugees to Canada, including best practices and lessons learnt on the importance of pre-departure orientation in host countries, reconciling cultural differences between home countries and countries of resettlement, and the importance of religious centers as a means to facilitate cultural integration of resettled persons. In 2015, he designed and implemented a programme to support the Government of Canada's resettlement of Syrian refugees from Lebanon to Canada (based out of Beirut), and most recently has been providing technical and coordination support on emergency management to community-based civil society institutions in Syria. His areas of interest lie in the safe and secure passage of IDPs and refugees out of conflict areas, and mental health conditions arising from witnessing and escaping hazardous conditions.

    Joshua Stacey



    Joshua Stacey has worked as a Community Health Manager for Medair in Jordan, where he worked on psychosocial and SGBV projects with local and refugee populations. He has an MA in Social Anthropology from SOAS University, where he focused on the anthropology of humanitarianism and the social experience of male refugees. He has a post-graduate certificate in global trauma recovery, building upon 7 years of experience working with grassroots organisations in the MiddleEast.

    Jack Pilkington



    Jack Pilkington is a freelance researcher focusing on the impact of emergent technology on society. He has an MSC in Social Cognition from UCL where he examined the role of Twitter as an information source in the wake of natural disasters and safeguards intended to ensure the future development of AI does not endanger humanity.


    He is a firm believer that technological development should not exacerbate global inequalities and is excited to champion this cause at Between Borders, attempting to ensure the most innovative approaches in MHPSS are not only made available to, but actively designed for the displaced.


    Jack holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Manchester.

    Arabella Lawson



    Arabella Lawson has a background in languages, and a passion for theatre. She has travelled and worked internationally in various theatre groups and companies that use this art to engage audiences in human stories of social and political significance including Oneohone immersive theatre group and Peckham Shed theatre (Anyone Everyone Theatre>) She has trained and worked in the interactive techniques of Theatre of the Oppressed and Playback Theatre and spent three years working, acting and travelling with Theatro di Nascosto (Italy) making theatre reportage. This unique form of theatre unites journalism and theatre, sharing stories of people living in conflict and under oppression. Its power lies in the empathy it inspires and the solidarity created through sharing deep and painful experiences.


    Since 2014, supported by Funacion Promocion Social de la Cultura (FPSC), Arabella has been working in collaboration with a group of community volunteers in Za'atari camp (Jordan), setting up and running the community-led inclusive theatre group of children of abilities, Mark of Hope theatre troupe, which works to combat the isolation and marginalisation of persons labelled with disabilities, Mark of Hope celebrates the diversity of its members. It performs stories, be they stories with a message or not, with colour, joy and fun, and the group has become a place where boys and girls are welcomed into an atmosphere of inclusion, cooperation, friendship and a lot of laughter. As the group is led to an ever greater extent by the young men and women of the community itself, Arabella has witnessed the enormous value of creative ownership.


    Still in Jordan, Arabella is a member of Jordan's playback theatre troupe and continues to support Mark of Hope and Theatro di Nascosto.

    Roseanne Frascona



    Using the arts to express a political message is vital and his how Roseanne first came to develop her work. She has spent the last few years engaging with socio-political theatre: with AVA, on the film 'Our Girl' - which used real testimonies of girls who had been forced into marriage and The Bush Theatre on 'Nahda: Four Visions of an Arab Awakening', which asked: how can personal freedom and identity be conquered under the pressure of conflicting forces. Coming into contact with stories and realities has brought home to Roseanne, on a visceral level, both the need to engage with the issue of displacement and the impact that it can have on a person's mental well-being. She feels fervently that the arts can be used to tell these important stories and it can play a crucial role in initiating change. F

    Sarhang Hars



    Sarhang Hars started his professional media career as a co-founder and editor of the first independent youth-oriented Kurdish newspaper, 'Liberal Education,' in 2002. He has worked as a media development advisor and London-based Senior International Correspondent at NRT satellite channel. He has extensively covered the migration and refugee issues and stories throughout Europe.

    Sarhang was a speaker at TEDx Baghdad in 2013 to talk about his innovation to monitor the status of women in Iraqi media and was awarded the first prize at Hurilab competition for creating Amedia Watch.


    Sarhang holds an MA in Communications and Media studies from the Univerity of London and a BA in International Development Studies from the University of Toronto.


  • Between Borders is currently working towards securing sustainable funding and donor support. The independent work at Between Borders has been financed by the director since its inception in 2017.


    We are firstly dedicated to bringing the most critical issues from the team and our partners to evidence the need for MHPSS-displacement research and more creative engagement in dialogue, policy and practice for better understanding and action on mental health in crises.


    If you have any questions on current funding status or would like to see how you can support us, please get in touch with the director, Vanessa Thevathasan, at info@betweenbordersinternational.org.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

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