NEWSLETTER: Making an impact with the power of personal stories

At FilmAid we believe that when people speak up and are heard, their experience, their existence, and their demands can no longer be ignored.  In this newsletter you'll learn about the different ways that FilmAid, with your support, has been making an impact in the lives of refugees. Through media training, life-saving information campaigns, film-based workshops, and by engaging the community in its own development, FilmAid is working to build community resilience and expand opportunities for youth in two of the world's largest refugee camps. 

But first, we need to tell you about the first TEDx in a refugee camp and FilmAid's role in celebrating the creativity and contributions of refugees. 

 

Taking the STage and telling her story at TEDx kakuma camp

Two young women from FilmAid's programs recently stood up on the world stage to tell their own stories at the first ever TEDx in a refugee camp. Follow the links below to listen to Aminah and Mercy tell their stories of struggle, survival and self-determination. 

aminah rwimo TEDx

Aminah Rwimo, Filmmaker 

"I faced my fear. I made a film. I found my voice... This is my calling. It is my passion. I want my voice and the voice of other refugees to be heard."

Aminah Rwimo is an award winning short filmmaker, winner of the Best Director prize at the 2015 FilmAid Film Festival, and is currently working as a film training assistant at FilmAid Kenya. Aminah fled the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2009 after losing her entire family to violence. Aminah identifies herself as a survivor of sexual and gender based violence, and has chosen to use her filmmaking talent to tell the stories of other young women whose lives are too often destroyed by the violence of more powerful men. 

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Akuot Mercy Marang, Musician

"Alongside my work fighting for women, I’m also pursuing my dream as a singer. I want my music to bring hope and joy."

Akuot Mercy Marang was one of two musical artists who was chosen under FilmAid's Finding a Star project done in collaboration with hip hop producer Wyre. Finding a Star helped Mercy launch her professional music career, and gave her a platform to push back against negative stereotypes about refugees in Kenya.

At 15 Mercy was forced into marriage to a violent 56 year old man. She finally escaped from Uganda to Kenya along her own personally constructed Underground Railroad. Her courage is what led her to the safety in Kakuma Refugee Camp. And it is her continued courage in fighting to end forced marriage that provides hope for other girls, everyone of whom has a right to pursue her dreams free from sexual violence.

Aminah’s Speech starts at 25:00. Skip ahead to see Mercy’s speech which starts at 3:42:00.

TEDx Live Screenings for the communities in Dadaab and Kakuama 

FilmAid livestreamed TEDxKakumaCamp in its entirety in six locations in Kakuma Refugee Camp and four locations in the Dadaab Refugee Complex, ensuring that community members could experience the event live, as it unfolds.

 

UPDATES on the impact of Filmaid's core programs 

When personal stories reach a mass audience individual ripples can turn into waves. The same thing occurs within individuals, families and communities when people lead by example, work through consensus, and speak out on behalf of those less powerful.

FilmAid's impact at the community level can only be glimpsed through the numbers. But behind every campaign, every short film, every theater performance and radio show there are individuals from the communities we serve using their stories, their skills and their ambition to make change in their own lives and within their own communities. 

Continue reading to find out how FilmAid's Media Training and Skills Development combines with our Life-saving Information Campaigns and intensive Film-based Workshops to foster resilience and the ability of individuals and the community at large to advocate for its needs and the needs of most vulnerable. 

Mastering THE sKILLS TO MAKE Change

 Graduates from FilmAid's 2017-2018 Media Training Course

Graduates from FilmAid's 2017-2018 Media Training Course

Every year FilmAid conducts a year-long Media Arts Training Program where students like Aminah learn the fundamentals of filmmaking and journalism. 

This year, 120 students took part in our program, a 40 person increase in enrollement over last year. Also this year, FilmAid has begun conducting its first Master Class in Kakuma Refugee Camp where media arts students who’ve finished their first year can continue to refine and professionalize their filmmaking skills. Of the 80 who completed the first year course in Kakuma, 50 have signed up for the Master Class.

FilmAid also conducts Theater Trainings that harness the skills of refugee youth to support social marketing projects promoting community well-being. Over 100 youth have taken part in our Community Theater Training.

Engaging the Community in its own development

 FilmAid's Kenya staff building their skills and their team spirit. 

FilmAid's Kenya staff building their skills and their team spirit. 

FilmAid hosts yearly Community Outreach Trainings where FilmAid's national and refugee staff learn a range of vital work and leadership skills. So far in 2018, over 70 staff members from the refugee community have participated in our Community Outreach Training.

Life-saving Information Campaigns

 FilmAid conducting registrations for its Bulk SMS Messaging Service for Refugees in Kakuma. 

FilmAid conducting registrations for its Bulk SMS Messaging Service for Refugees in Kakuma. 

One of FilmAid’s core functions is to develop and distribute life-saving information. Every single day FilmAid's over 130 staff are in the communities sharing information about the recognition and prevention of often deadly diseases like cholera, HIV, and malaria. Additionally, we ensure that refugees know their rights and are able to leverage those rights to access all of the camp's services from health to education to economic opportunity. 

Over the past year FilmAid's campaigns have used a multi-platform distribution strategy that leverages channels FilmAid itself developed and maintains. Our approach ensures that the right message reaches the right person at the right time. 

  • FilmAid sent 19 emergency alerts through its own SMS network reaching 37,000 households in both Dadaab and Kakuma who subscribe to our service.

  • FilmAid distributed 130 separate announcements using loud speaker trucks broadcasting critical information in 6 languages and reaching on average 70% of the camps’ populated areas. 

  • FilmAid held 140 Film-based events reaching 153,000 people. FilmAid's in-person events are a platform for delivering reliable, life-saving information on topics like how to prepare for and deal with flooding, how to protect sources of clean drinking water, and how to protect children and the elderly during cholera outbreaks.

In an crisis, having good information can be the the difference between life and death, and we take our responsibility to provide quality information as quickly as possible very seriously.

Film-Based Workshops - Building community resilience by spreading knowledge

 FilmAid Workshop in Dadaab Refugee Camp.

FilmAid Workshop in Dadaab Refugee Camp.

Film-based workshops are our most effective means for helping translate our communities’ knowledge of their human rights into action. We’ve led workshops on topics spanning from sexual gender based violence and girls’ education, to food preparedness and cholera prevention, and those who participate in our workshops leave equipped with the knowledge to take advantage of their rights and incorporate healthier practices into their day-to-day lives.

Over the last year, 686 film-based dialogue sessions conducted have led to 20,477 exposures or face-to-face interactions with community members. Each of these was led with the express purpose of teaching habits and practices that promote healthier physical and social lives.

Notably, 59% of our workshops’ participants were female, and this is important to us because although our workshops touch on a range of themes, we are especially interested in empowering women and girls. Through workshop series like Girls First and Women in Health and Leadership, we seek to give women and girls the knowledge to be advocates for their rights. Women in the camps are particularly vulnerable, and we help them become strong and resilient.

 

MOBILE CINEMA & Psycho-Social Support

FilmAid is also known for its mobile cinema screenings. Events that bring family films to the camps and provide welcome psycho-social relief.

Since September we have organized 139 screenings for refugees’ entertainment, including films like Air Bud, Mickey Mouse and Tom & Jerry. We also screened pan-African favorites like A Piece of Land, Yellow Card and Whom Do I Turn To.

One of our screenings, Soul Boy, is of particular interest. It’s a 2010 Kenyan drama filmed in Kibera, written by Billy Kahora, directed by Hawa Essuman, and developed under the mentorship of German director and producer Tom Tykwer. The film features FilmAid Kenya’s Director of Creative and Content who plays “Angry Man.”

FilmAid and the first TEDx in a refugee camp

FilmAid is proud to make two exciting announcements about TEDxKakumaCamp, the first TEDx event ever held in a refugee camp. The theme is “Thrive, a celebration of the resilience, creativity and contribution of refugees.” We are thrilled to be a part of TEDxKakumaCamp and further our core belief that a community that speaks for itself is a community that can change and heal itself. 

FilmAid will live stream the first ever TEDx event in a refugee camp on June 9 at 10AM (GMT+3), in 10 locations, six in Kakuma Refugee Camp and four in the Dadaab Refugee Complex. 

You can watch alongside the Kakuma community at

 

two beneficiaries of FILMAID media training programs will take the stage as featured speakers.

Aminah Rwimo, Award Winning Filmmaker AND FILMAID FILM TRAINER

Aminah Rwimo, 24, is a 2015 FilmAid Media Training alumnus, and a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. After completing FilmAid’s year-long media training course, Aminah launched her own career as a successful filmmaker. Her films have won numerous film festival awards including: best picture, best screenplay, best actress, and most recently Aminah herself won an award for Best Emerging Filmmaker at the IOM Global Migration Film Festival in Geneva for her film “It Has Killed My Mother.” Aminah is currently a FilmAid Media Training assistant teaching over 50 students how to use film to tell their own stories, and advocate for their own needs. Aminah is also hard at work on her second short film script and has founded an independent production company in Kakuma called Exile Key Films.

Aminah has inspired me, and I know her talent and tenacity will inspire the world when she speaks at TEDxKakumaCamp.”
- Stella Suge, FilmAid Kenya Country Director

Akuot Mercy Mareng - Musician, Activist and Advocate FOR ALL WOMEN

Akuot Mercy Mareng is a talented musician, outspoken advocate and refugee from South Sudan. In 2017, while on stage in Kakuma performing at a World Refugee Day event, Mercy’s outstanding voice and stage presence drew the attention of FilmAid as well as Kenyan hip hop producers Wyre the Lovechild and Jua Cali. A short while later FilmAid teamed up with Wrye to launch the Finding a Star initiative which is supported by the US State Department’s Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migration. Mercy’s single "Anavonifanya" was produced and released as part of Finding a Star. FilmAid’s students helped produce a highly successful PR campaign that has helped catapult Mercy into the national spotlight in Kenya with appearances on TV and features in the leading national newspapers. Mercy will be speaking about her experience of forced marriage and her passionate commitment to using her music to advocate for the rights of women and girls.

FILMAID PROVIDING LARGE SCALE, SIMULTANEOUS SCREENINGS OF TEDx

250 high-profile guests from around the world will descend on Kakuma to attend the event in person. An additional 5500 refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps will be able to watch the event live through large screenings hosted by FilmAid and other agencies.

We are excited to provide large-scale screenings of TEDxKakumaCamp in Dadaab and Kakuma Refugee Camp so the refugee and host community can be inspired by the creativity, courage and contributions of the speakers, especially the four young refugees who will tell their own stories.
- Keefe Murren, FilmAid Executive Director

GET INSPIRED: WATCH THE FILMAID DOC BELOW TO DISCOVER THE HUMOR, HUMANITY AND DETERMINATION OF THE KAKUMA COMMUNITY

FilmAid documentary about the diversity and creativity of the Kakuma Community. Made possible with support from DFID and UKaid.

Be inspired by young refugees fighting to lift up their communities

Choose to inspire. And be inspired in return.

This holiday season, FilmAid invites you to be inspired by the optimism and defiant determination of refugees using film and other media to lift up their own communities.

Be inspired by the creativity of FilmAid's 120 students and 140+ refugee and local staff who bring life-saving information, psycho-social support and much needed hope to their own communities every day.

Be inspired to support young refugees like Sarah in the video below who uses film in her fight for girls' education and an end to discrimination. 

Be inspired by FilmAid's over 10,000 Mobile Cinema Screenings and 1000s of Film-based workshops delivering critical information about human rights, public health,  economic opportunity and conflict resolution.  

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Be inspired by FilmAid’s campaigns to end discrimination against refugees through national TV broadcasts in Kenya, public relations campaigns, and high profile events celebrating the creative contributions of refugee youth, especially women, girls, the elderly and disabled.

Give the gift of inspiration this year, and be inspired in return And stay tuned for more stories of FilmAid students and staff inspiring their communities to continue to fight for peace, justice and future filled with hope. 

Newsletter: Finding Stars & Fighting Stereotypes

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A Message from the Executive Director

Like many of you who are receiving this email, I am feeling overwhelmed. From the Korean Peninsula to the islands of Puerto Rico; from the devastating terrorist attack in Mogadishu to the recent tragedy in lower-Manhattan, there are new crises every day that demand our attention, our empathy, and with more frequency, our outrage.

At FilmAid, we believe during times of compounding crises like these, the power of film is not just important, but absolutely essential. 

Storytelling, photography, and filmmaking provide more than the spark that ignites social change. They are the fuel that keeps us fighting in the face of any obstacle. 

"The real challenge is not simply to survive... It's to survive as yourself undiminished" - Elia Kazan

The stories below are each about FilmAid students and staff using art and storytelling to not just survive, but "to survive as ourselves, undiminished."

Thank you for remaining steadfast in your solidarity, and strong in your support of refugees half way around the world who are struggling to lift up their communities.

With gratitude, 

Keefe Murren
Executive Director | FilmAid International

 

Life-Saving Information: UPENN and FilmAid

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Collaboration is the Only Solution

FilmAid initiated a powerful collaboration with UPENN this past July. Together 8 UPENN students and 16 FilmAid students produced a comprehensive “welcome kit” video for new refugee arrivals in Kakuma and Kalobeyei refugee settlements. The project was built from the ground up as an opportunity for youth to meaningfully collaborate and learn together while delivering life-saving information to displaced people in dire need.

FilmAid Executive Director at UPENN

The project with UPENN culminated in a presentation at the Perry World House on UPENN's campus. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Populations, Refugees and Migration, Anne Richard along with Professor of Cinema Studies, Peter Decherney and FilmAid Executive Director Keefe Murren hosted a presentation of the "welcome kit" along with a virtual reality project that the UPENN students produced during their time in Kakuma. Three UPENN participants joined the discussion as well, with Sonari Chidi summing up the inspiration behind the project by celebrating the resilience and creativity of refugees themselves: “People don’t consider that refugees had a full and vibrant life before they became refugees,” Chidi said. “This experience of being a refugee isn’t all that they are. They’re so much more than that."

Photo: Courtesy of Peter Decherney, UPENN Cinema Studies Professor.

 

Stories not Stereotypes: a FilmAid Documentary

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In October, FilmAid Kenya premiered a documentary in prime time on one of Kenya's biggest broadcasters. A Journey Through My City is a documentary about Kenyans and refugees building communities of mutual support and respect, as told by the the communities themselves. The film follows Anne Nyandeng, a young woman recently arrived from South Sudan, and Ignatius Lokitare, an older, visually impaired man from the Turkana community. Anne and Ignatius take the viewer on a tour of the diverse  communities they call their own, and introduce us to the many ways that both the Kenyan and refugee community are already benefiting from working together as neighbors.

The documentary was produced by FilmAid for a UK funded program called  SPARK (Support and Protection for Affected Refugees in Kenya) which seeks to integrate refugees into Kenyan society through skills training. The goal of the documentary was to show how these different cultures - refugees and Kenyans - can both benefit from their unique ingenuity and creativity.

FilmAid’s production team spent 6 weeks researching and filming the stories with the different communities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei, to capture the true power and potential of the people living both in and around the camp. With our Kenyan and refugee production team, FilmAid was able to compellingly push back against stereotypes that create obstacles in the search for solutions. 

Funded by the Department For International Development (DFID).

 

 

Indie Spirit Lives on in Kakuma Refugee Camp

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Move over Tarantino, Here Comes Amina

If the spirit of indie film is to get your movie made no matter what, then you can't get more indie than Amina Rwimo Hortence.

Made with her own money, in a refugee camp, and with her friends as cast and crew, her film, It Has Killed My Mother is a testament to the indie spirit, and to Amina's singular strength and talent. Amina's film is a love story between a young man and a young woman. Their love turns tragic when the birth of their first child takes the life of the young mother because of the effects of female genital mutilation. Through the compelling story and characters, the film is an emotional and defiant call to end violence against women and girls.

Amina started her film career as a student in FilmAid’s Skills Development program in 2015 and has worked as a Film Training Facilitator with FilmAid ever since. In 2016, Amina and her filmmaking partner Adbul Patient started their own independent production company, Exile Key Films. With their skills and ambition they are earning an income making videos for NGOs, events, weddings and more. It Has Killed My Mother is their first original production. 

“If it was not for the training I got from Filmaid I couldn’t have achieved what I have today. The training I received made me who I am.” - Amina Rwino Hortenc

Amina's film won the top prize for best film, best screenplay and best actress at the Slum Film Festival. The film will soon be featured at the Global Migration Film Festival being show around the world in December. 

 

 

Ending Discrimination through Hip-hop and Soul

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FilmAid launched its inaugural talent scouting program, Finding a Star, to push positive images of refugees in the media, and give opportunities to FilmAid trained youth to use their videography, public relations and music production skills. FilmAid teamed up with popular Kenyan hip-hop artist WYRE to engage young, talented musicians and FilmAid’s Media students under the Media Entrepreneurship Training Program. FilmAid staff and the stars themselves have appeared on TV and in the national press promoting the project, and showing that refugees can contribute to their societies.


Click here to view the music video for South Sudanese refugee Mercy Akuot's new hit single, Anavyo ni Fanya ni Hisi (The Way He Makes Me Feel). 

Click here to view Turkana hip-hop artist, Scooby Lincos' song Kazi Tu (Just Work).

FilmAid's Finding a Star project promotes youth economic empowerment through music and video production, with FilmAid students learning music journalism, public relations, video production and entrepreneurship. Finding a Star has encouraged and engaged young musicians and media professionals to create new opportunities for themselves. Read more about the project here.

Artists from Dadaab use creativity to combat early marriage and protect girls.

ART FOR CHANGE - CHILD FRIENDLY MESSAGING

By Eric Sande, FilmAid Journalism Trainer, Dadaab

 Artists work on mural paintings in Dagahaley Camp, Dadaab

Artists work on mural paintings in Dagahaley Camp, Dadaab

Dadaab Refugee Settlement provides an expansive canvas for artists to express themselves. Moving through the vast camps that house roughly 250,000 people, you can be overwhelmed by the dust and haze, but if you're lucky you may catch a glimpse of lively and strikingly colorful  works of art on the public walls that line camps.  These large-scale murals are the work of refugee artists who were supported by FilmAid's team of fine arts trainers and messaging strategists. 

Ifo 1, a camp that houses victims of the 2011 famine in Somalia, now welcomes guests and visitors with a vibrantly colorful mural spanning the 1000 square meter perimeter wall. The artwork is a series of panels depicting moments from a typical Somali girl's life, and celebrating her ability to make her own choices. The goal of the project is to provide context as well as a call-to-action for the community to engage in difficult discussions about female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage - cultural practices that have disadvantaged young women across many African countries. 

Initially, FilmAid and the young artists experienced resistance from some members of the community. They were concerned that the art work and its message would not be in accord with their faith. FilmAid's community-based approach demands that we be sensitive to and work with the community. This ensures not only the effectiveness of the message, but also helps protect the individual artists from accusations that they are not adhering to their faith. 

A young Ethiopian who participated in the project, Mulugeta Gashaw Yifru (pictured below), said,"the first time we made our drawings in Dagahaley camp, the Somali Refugees destroyed our work but after talking to them about its importance, they accepted the drawings and guarded them."

 Mulugeta Gashaw Yifru, Dadaab 2017

Mulugeta Gashaw Yifru, Dadaab 2017

"Our Trainer, Handerson Kiruri, made it easy for me to learn how to express myself with paint, and draw human beings, using shade, proportion and other techniques," according to Mulugeta.

The four Dadaab camps are home to approximately half a million refugees, mainly from the Somali community who are estimated to comprise of 97 percent of the total population.

The art pieces about FGM provoke and provide a positive context for conversations among Somalis in the camp, and provides support for the section of the Somali community who would like to end the practice.

"There is nothing as beautiful as refugee artists using their talent in drawing to pass informative messages that are influencing positive behavior change in their community," says Fatuma Roba, the artists’ Project Supervisor.  "The project aims at providing a platform for children’s voices to be heard and respected," She adds.

 Child Friendly Messaging Campaign, Dadaab 2017

Child Friendly Messaging Campaign, Dadaab 2017

FilmAid International conducted a two week, intensive training with nine young artists from the Dadaab Refugee Settlements. Through the workshops participants were able to develop their technical skills as well as expand their ability to incorporate stories, emotions and messages into their art. 

 Child Friendly Spaces, Ifo2 Camp, Dadaab; mural created with the support of Inter-Agency Child Protection Working Group (IACPWG)

Child Friendly Spaces, Ifo2 Camp, Dadaab; mural created with the support of Inter-Agency Child Protection Working Group (IACPWG)

With the guidance and mentorship of the trainer, the artists made sketches that were later transferred to five walls. The trainer directly participated in the production of one mural in Dagahaley Camp and supervised the production of the four murals that were painted by the Fine Arts Program trainees. As part of empowering the community, this initiative has provided the trainees with a job opportunity to complete the remaining four murals this September in Hagadera camp.  

Since the paintings were completed, children in Dadaab have identified and engaged with the wall mural paintings and were able to easily interpret the messages behind the drawings and showed great interest.

This project was supported by Terre des Homme and Save the Children

Susan Luka Mangu: How knowledge and skills make me stand out!

In honor of International Women's Day, FilmAid celebrates alumna Susan Luka Mangu who tells us in her own words why she's so proud of the skills that allow her to stand out.

 FilmAid alumna Susan Luka Mangu. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

FilmAid alumna Susan Luka Mangu. Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

I am 18 years old and came to Kenya with my siblings in September 2014. We travelled for three days from South Sudan to Kakuma Refugee Camp. After eight months we were relocated to Dadaab.

I really appreciate the fact that I have a place to call home but I feel challenged by the system of education here in Kenya. When I left South Sudan I was a form two student [high school] but when I came here in 2015 I was told to join class seven [primary school]. I felt like the ground had opened up and swallowed me.  I could not believe what I was told.

I decided to stay at home for a while to think it over. I had started to lose hope but fortunately I heard of the YEP Centre (Youth Education Pack) where I could take courses which suited my objectives. I opted to join YEP where I learnt computer secretariat for 1 year.

In 2016 my cousin told me that FilmAid was recruiting youth for their Journalism Training Programme, and because I had a lot of interest in photography, I applied. I was called for an interview, which I successfully passed.

FilmAid’s Journalism Training Programme was an eye opener for me. My family supported and encouraged me even though the distance from Dagahaley to Ifo, where the training took place, was quite far.

I never gave up because it was the most interesting thing that had happened in my life since I left South Sudan. I was sure that with journalism skills I would get a job at a Radio or TV station or start my own business in the camp or back in South Sudan.

I learnt so much, and I felt alive because I could express my emotions through writing stories about the community, including taking professional photographs. Now I can compile stories on my own and publish a community magazine independently. I really thank FilmAid for the knowledge and skills that I believe have made me stand out as a young woman in this camp.

I would like to advise girls and women in Dadaab to take courses that will give them knowledge and skills, enabling them to earn a living from entrepreneurship and employment.

Follow FilmAid on Twitter and Facebook for more inspiring stories of the women of FilmAid. International Women's Day is March 8, 2017. Support FilmAid and help forge a more inclusive, gender equal world.  

Maria Noor Ahmed: From school dropout to dream come true

In honor of International Women's Day, FilmAid celebrates alumna Maria Noor Ahmed's accomplishments as a journalist and filmmaker. Read her own words below.

 Maria at FilmAid Film Festival in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

Maria at FilmAid Film Festival in Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya

I was born in Somalia, but my mother moved to Dadaab in 1998 when I was only one year old. I’m the last born in a family of four which my mum takes care of single handedly.

In 2005 I was enrolled in Primary school but dropped out to assist my mother with the household chores. My siblings fetch water and firewood.

After dropping out of school I stayed at home for a while but later, joined Youth Education Pack (Y.E.P) which is supported by the Norwegian Refugee Council, NRC. I took part in a one year course in journalism. After graduating I took a job at Risaala F.M Radio Station as a reporter.

While working at Risaala Radio Station I heard that FilmAid was advertising their Film Training Program for youth. Having had a passion for filmmaking, I went to the FilmAid field office in Hagadera to seek more information about the training. When I looked at the requirements, K.C.S.E certificate [high school graduation certificate] was one of them and unfortunately I did not have it since I’m a class seven dropout. I felt hopeless but my family told me to apply and inform FilmAid that I didn’t have a secondary school certificate but had successfully completed a one year journalism course.

‘Alhamdulillah’ [Thanks to Allah] after a week I was called for the interview and to me it was a dream come true. I was both happy and nervous at the same time. I felt like I had passed the interview already. During the interview I agreed to commit myself fully and focus on the training, so I told my boss about it and he permitted me to proceed with my plans.

From the FTP training I learnt how to direct a film, use a camera, edit films, write scripts, do casting, select film locations and also train others on the same. In all the topics, editing was fun and came naturally to me though I liked spending time with the camera.

Currently I’m working as a Senior Presenter at Risaala F.M in Dadaab, my duties are to record short films, edit, report and present news. I also empower other youth with my skills by training them on Film and Journalism at Hagadera Journalism School on a volunteer basis.

I would like to go back to school and get the secondary school certificate but the issue of repatriation is a hindrance to my plans. Despite what I go through, InshaAllah [God willing] I will achieve my goal; to see more girls socio-economically empowered and an informed community for adaptive and positive behavior that will enable them to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.

I would urge all agencies in Dadaab to reach out to more girls and women with skills-based approach to build their capacity and also urge girls to take courses and attend trainings like journalism and filmmaking even if there are challenges. In the next 3 years I would like to work for a national radio or T.V station and also start a Film/journalism school for girls.    

Written by: Maria Noor Ahmed. Hagadera Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya.

Follow FilmAid on Twitter and Facebook for more inspiring stories of the women of FilmAid. International Women's Day is March 8, 2017. Support FilmAid and help forge a more inclusive, gender equal world.  

Amina Rwimo Hortence: "The knowledge I have is still not enough."

In honor of International Women's Day, FilmAid celebrates Film Training Graduate Amina Rwimo Hortence whose ambition is never limited by her circumstances. 

 Amina Rwimo Hortence. Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

Amina Rwimo Hortence. Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya.

I am 24 years old and a Congolese refugee living in Kakuma Refugee Camp.  From the start of my career to now I have achieved many things of which I am very proud of. I currently manage my own production company called Exile Key Films with other filmmakers based in Kakuma Refugee Camp. We take on a variety of productions from local agency projects to assisting on international productions.

Our new film, directed by myself, is called 'It Has Killed My Mother' and will be released very soon (check out the trailer below). It is about Female Genital Mutilation. I wanted to complete this project to answer my own question, "Why should a girl be cut?" and to raise awareness of FGM. Too many women bleed to death during this procedure that often takes place against their will. Many children are left without their mothers after complications at birth due to FGM. This affects the rest of the child's life.

 Amina on the set with her cast and crew of  It Has Killed My Mother,  Kakuma Refugee Camp, October 2017

Amina on the set with her cast and crew of It Has Killed My Mother, Kakuma Refugee Camp, October 2017

I graduated from FilmAid in 2015, after which I worked as a Film Training Facilitator until recently. The Skills Development (Film Training Program) helped me to achieve my goals. If it was not for the training I got from FilmAid I couldn’t have achieved what I have today. The training I received made me who I am.

The most important thing for me to achieve my career goals is for people to believe in me, that I will take every opportunity I get as a stepping stone towards being who I want to be in the future. The knowledge I have now is not enough. I want my company to continue to grow so that I can be self-reliant and give back the knowledge I have to the community. In Kakuma many women are prevented from achieving their goals because of their culture and beliefs restricting them. Those who can talk on their behalf should be telling their story through visual communication and make the changes they need to gain back control of their lives. The percentage of women speaking on behalf of themselves is too little.

I myself face many obstacles. The knowledge I have is still not enough. I need more training in how to promote the work I produce and get it seen by others. It is very difficult to market my company, living in Kakuma.

Women need more opportunities like scholarships and training so that they can gain the skills to start their own businesses. This will encourage independence and enable other young women and girls from the refugee community to look up to them.

Follow FilmAid on Twitter and Facebook for more inspiring stories of the women of FilmAid. International Women's Day is March 8, 2017. Support FilmAid and help forge a more inclusive, gender equal world.  

In her newest film, Amina boldly confronts the practice of FGM by raising awareness of the complications and consequences of the tradition.