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. 

akuot mercy marang

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.”