Media Content

A Refugee Magazine Special Edition: 16 Days of Activism Against GBV

On the 25th of November, the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence launched worldwide. Across the globe, there have been numerous acts from millions of people symbolizing their support for this essential cause. The Refugee Magazine is honoring the 16 Days of Activism with this special edition dedicated to the issue of early marriage. 

if levels of child marriages continued at the current rate, 39,000 girls under the age of 18 will be married daily in the coming years - that’s 14.2 million girls a year.
— UNICEF statement released 2013

All these children face serious danger to their physical and mental health as a result of being married at a young age than if they married later in life: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth; child brides are at a higher level of risk of contracting HIV from their older husbands, and young girls under 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence. 

Containing interviews with victims and survivors of early marriage and GBV and those dedicated to ending it, this edition is a powerful collection of personal stories, facts, and figures that hope to continue the movement to end early marriage and Gender Based Violence worldwide.

To read the full edition of The Refugee Magazine, 16 Days of Activism Special, please click here.


The Refugee Magazine is now in its fifth year, and continues to entertain, inform, and give a voice to those living in the camps. If you'd like to read more then follow our Refugee Magazine Blog Series on our Stories page. 

And as always, if you'd like to support FilmAid's training and empowerment of local writers, filmmakers, producers and actors, you can donate here.

FilmAid and Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari

 Porter Magazine 2014

Porter Magazine 2014

It is fundamental to work together to save each and every woman.

Statistics show that one woman dies every two minutes from complications during pregnancy and birth. This is why FilmAid was honored to join Christy Turlington Burns for Porter Magazine's event with Every Mother Counts at The Bulgari, to raise awareness of the vital need for the continued progress and preservation of maternal health. 

Driven by her own experience of pregnancy and giving birth, Christy founded Every Mother Counts with the aim of providing every mother with the same level of information and healthcare she had received when she needed it most. 

Stella and Sian speak at bulgari.JPG

A touching speech was given on behalf of FilmAid by FilmAid’s UK Chair, Sian Sutherland, and FilmAid’s Country Director for Kenya, Stella Suge. 

Emphasizing the common ground shared by the two organizations, Sian discussed Every Mother Counts and FilmAid’s important contributions to safeguarding women’s health and dignity by the provision of information and the giving of hope, life skills, and voices.

 

Stella spoke of her first-hand experience working on a FilmAid maternal health program based in two of the largest refugee camps in the world, Kakuma and Dadaab in Kenya. With over half a million people living as refugees in Kenya, and over half of these people being women, maternal health necessitates urgent action. Stella expressed that she had seen women die as a result of absence of knowledge and information, a situation that was complicated further by cultural issues relating to how women receive professional hospital treatment. In light of these experiences, FilmAid devised a program that included creating an informative film made by and for refugees. The film focussed on informing viewers of the critical need and benefits of maternal health, thus contributing to the ongoing welfare of mothers and thier children. 

 

The Refugee Magazine: The Story of My Life, as a Refugee.

The Refugee Magazine is created by, written for and distributed freely to refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. The magazine publishes original content and covers many subjects relevant to its readers such as reportage on key events, poetry and arts, life stories and practical information.

The Refugee Magazine is now in its fifth year, and continues to entertain, inform, and give a voice to those living in the camps. 

This week, in light of the UN announcement of its campaign to combat statelessness, we are sharing the story of Abdiweli Omar Mohamed. His story details his family's struggles with fleeing civil war, encountering drought, becoming stateless, and life in Dagahaley camp, where Abdiweli later received education and journalism training through FilmAid's Media Arts Training program.

 

'The Story of My Life, as a Refugee' by Abdiweli Omar Mohamed

Featured in The Refugee, Dadaab Edition No. 2, 2014.  

At the beginning of the fall of President Siyad Bare’s regime in 1990, I was still unable to differentiate between war and peace – I was two years old.

I was the second last born in my family, with two elder brothers. When the civil war broke out, people started fleeing towards different parts of the country in fear for their lives, but for my family, we had no other option but to go where my father was – in the bushes with our countless cattle and goats. So my mother arranged for our journey with the help of my elder brothers. They packed all our belongings and mounted them on our donkey carts. Then the journey began, early the following day. In the town, people had cars and lorries, all packed up; while some were walking, with their luggage on their backs.

After moving for six hours, we arrived at a place called Latagari where we rested and eventually spent the night. We resumed our journey the following morning. At the back where we came from we could still hear heavy gunshot sounds but we turned a deaf ear. When we arrived at my father’s place, we were all tired and hungry. Although he had heard the news, he was still unsure about fleeing and leaving the animals behind. We stayed there for four years before a harsh drought hit. All our animals died except two thin cows. My father later decided to slaughter one of the cows to help us survive a few more days.

When we ran out of food and the only cow remaining was all the ‘food’ we had. My father made a decision for us to move in search of good pastures, and we would use the cow for survival during our journey. After an unforgettably long walk for days, we arrived at Dagahaley, which now looks very different. Here, we met some of our relatives, neighbours and many other people we knew back in Somalia.

It took three years for us to be registered as refugees by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The three years not being recognized by UNHCR were dreadful. Even though we could access other social amenities such as water and health care, we did not receive food and had to survive on little offerings by the relatives and friends we knew.

After registration, my father
took us to school. We enrolled at Central Primary School in Dagahaley, where pupils were taught under a tree. When they reached class seven, my two elder brothers scarpered and went back to Somalia without notifying my parents or anyone. I was in class five then and was also tempted to drop out of school like my brothers, but my friend Ayub Omar advised me not to, telling me to look into the future and what I wanted in life.

Years later, I sat for the K.C.P.E (Certificate of Primary Education) national exams where I managed to attain 283 marks out of the possible 500. After this I joined Dagahaley Secondary School. Being in form one was a joyous moment for me. Three years later I finished my high school, achieving a decent grade.

Then I saw an opportunity to explore my love for writing through FilmAid’s Journalism Training Program. My trainer, Mr. Paul Odongo, has been helpful in parting skills to help build my future as a journalist, and the sub-editor Mr. Ali Sahal for guidance.

My parents have always accorded me great support and the chance to make my own deci- sions. My brothers are doing well in Somalia; one is married and has children.

Living in the camp is one of the greatest gifts of my life. For in this camp I have lived safely and received education. However, Somalia is my home and I hope to go back some day, but not just yet.

 

Sandbox #5 - The Trailer

FilmAid’s Sandbox blog series is proud to present the official Sandbox trailer.  This unique six-part drama series is based in the world’s largest refugee camp - Dadaab in North-Eastern Kenya and explores the lives of the refugees who live there. Sandbox sets out to illustrate the hardships and events that take place in refugee camps whilst addressing health and social issues as well as entertaining the masses.

The trailer offers hints to the drama that unfolds throughout the six episodes. As our previous blog posts examined, FilmAid's research and learning team researched and pre-tested the story lines and the scripts to ensure that important issues were portrayed accurately, such as conflict resolutions, early marriage and gender-based violence (GBV). As the entire series was filmed in Dadaab, with a significant portion of cast and crew living there as refugees, there were high expectations to produce content that was culturally appropriate and relevant.

We hope you are as excited about the trailer as we are and have enjoyed following our blog series. We look forward to announcing the launch of The Sandbox series that will take place in Nairobi, Kenya and Dadaab refugee camp in the coming months.

 If you missed our previous blog posts on the SandBox then you can revisit them on the Stories page on our website. Stay tuned for more updates on the SandBox series and the launch on our TwitterFacebook, and Instagram pages.

If you’re interested in learning about more refugee stories straight from Dadaab, check out our Dadaab Stories interactive website, bringing the power of refugees’ voices directly to your computer.

And as always, if you’d like to support FilmAid’s training and empowerment of local filmmakers, producers, writers, and actors, you can donate here.  

 

 

 

Celebrating our 8th Annual Film Festival in Kakuma and Dadaab

This week, FilmAid is holding our 8th Annual Film Festival in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, celebrating the unique stories of refugees and other marginalized populations.

Crowds at Hope Primary School in Kakuma for this year's film festival

The screenings of these films have had an amazing reception from the refugee populations so far (and it’s only been two days)! Community spaces where the films are being shown are crowded with men, women and children, vying for front row seats.  Showcasing the films of young refugee filmmakers trained by FilmAid in both Kakuma and Dadaab, the Film Festival also provides an opportunity for filmmakers across the world to share the “Untold Stories” (our 2014 Festival theme) of the vulnerable and the voiceless.

If you’re not in Kakuma or Dadaab right now, you can still get a sneak peek of the Film Festival by watching our trailer here. 

For more updates about the Film Festival activities this week (as well as the Nairobi activities happening next week, which are free and open to everyone), check out our featured Film Festival Facebook page.

Tread Carefully: Mine Awareness in Southeast Asia

Tread Carefully filming in action

FilmAid’s work on the Thai-Myanmar Border, reaches thousands of refugees with its on-going screenings.  Audience figures stand at well over 500,000 viewings.

In 2013, FilmAid was more than willing to partner with Handicap International - now called Humanity & Inclusion - to provide a vital public service and information dissemination.

Our mission, to inform those who live in the 9 Shelter Camps how to avoid life threatening contact with land mines and ERWs (explosive remnants of war) and what to do if you encounter them.  More than 3,000 people have been killed or injured along the Thai-Myanmar border as a result of these in recent years. In fact, across the entirety of this 2,000 kilometre-long border, it is estimated 70 per cent of the ground has been sown with mines.

In order to pass on this information, FilmAid produced Tread Carefully. This 50-minute film tells the story of two young brothers and the care they must take to arrive safely at their grandfather’s village on the other side of the mountain.

After two months of script development, casting, location scouting and rehearsals, refugee filmmakers jumped into filming. Conditions were difficult - 100-degree heat, a time consuming relocation after the set burnt down, and a production that hobbled along when the main actor sprained his ankle. But refugee filmmakers learned that it’s all part of the process.FilmAid’s mine risk education film Tread Carefully has now been screening in all 9 camps along the border as part of a campaign to prevent land mine accidents. Reports say it will take over 50 years to clear the land mines along the border, but the impact of our film and outreach efforts alongside Handicap International will undoubtedly have a lasting positive impact.  Tread Carefully has received over 106,590 viewings in all nine camps.

In 2018, the FilmAid team will be working on a new short film with the MRE team.

In order to find out more about our ongoing programs in Thailand, follow us onTwitter and Facebook

The Refugee Magazine: 'Is it the right time for home?'

Unique content from The Refugee - a magazine written by those living in refugee camps - will now be showcased on FilmAid's blog.  

The Refugee Magazine seeks to inform, entertain, as well as give a voice to the voiceless.  It was started in 2009 by people living in Ifo refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya who had a passion for journalism but with no access to national newspapers.  The group reached out to FilmAid for support on their project, and since then 10 editions of The Refugee newsletter have been published and distributed free of charge among three major refugee camps in the country.  

The magazine addresses popular topics such as culture, gender and business while also aiming to provide useful information about issues frequently faced by those living in the camps, such as repatriation and access to medicine.  

This week we are sharing an abridged article by Mohamed Bashi Mohamed from The Refugee, Dadaab Edition No. 1, 2014.   

'Is it the right time for home?' by Mohamed Bashi Mohamed 

This is the question that has for months now been running through the unsettled minds of refugees living in Dadaab camps in Fafi region, since the Government of Kenya, Federal Somali Government and the UNHCR signed a tripartite agreement to repatriate Somali refugees voluntarily in a span of three years. The move that was initiated by the Kenyan side, after terrorists linked to the terror group, Al-Shabaab,  took control of a shopping mall in a siege that lasted for three days.  Dadaab refugees may feel that though the decision was reached with good intent, the timing however may not be right as there are still some basic structures lacking in Somalia. Moving such a large number of people in a very short time to a place may result in a humanitarian catastrophe. The move may also be a catalyst to chaos and lack of order in the already unstable country.  

The move will have a devastating effect on  women and children. It will also impact with the basic education that majority of refugees. This may create a vacuum in the flow of information and render a good number of able people jobless.

The tripartite agreement by the Kenyan government, the Somali government and the UNHCR on the repatriation of Somali refugees has left many worried. Most notably young refugees who attend school. The agreement came months after Kenyatta University opened up a campus in Dadaab town making Higher Education available to refugees, humanitarian workers and the local community. 

The decision to voluntarily repatriate refugees has been welcomed by some but the majority of refugees are still uncertain about the whole process. It is reported that more than 60,000 refugees have already returned to Somalia.

I spoke to Hassan, a Form One student living in Hagadera refugee camp to find out his feelings towards repatriation. “I am not happy” he says, “My major plan of arrival in this camp was to migrate to either South Africa or Libya so that I enjoy my world but when I reached Dadaab, I realized the value of education”. Hassan's story is one that many can relate to. The question that still lingers in his mind is when he will be repatriated, will he complete his education or will he have to start again upon reaching his homeland?

Mohamed Bashi Mohamed

Full article originally published in The Refugee, Dadaab Edition No. 1, 2014. To read more from this issue of The Refugee click here or visit Facebook.

SandBox #4 – Pre-Testing Stories & Characters

In FilmAid's new drama series, SandBox - developed, produced and filmed in the world's largest refugee camp, Dadaab - we go behind the scenes into the community-based scripting process...

In the series, the character Uhuoma aspires to take a leadership role in a male-dominated football (for Americans, soccer) team. When the FilmAid production team asks a group of youth whether this is okay, the answer might shock you.

A woman’s role is just to serve tea and not to take up leadership, especially in a male dominated sport...”
— said a young man among them.

Here, it is sometimes difficult to change long-held attitudes and behaviors regarding women’s rights and social expectations without education and access to alternate beliefs. As an NGO focused on communications, FilmAid strives to provide refugees access to information and education, including on issues related to gender-based rights and relations.

FilmAid endeavors to deliver social change both individually and in the community, through creativity, collaboration and participation. An individual has the opportunity to increase their knowledge, and change their attitudes, while the community can also rise to the occasion by responding to social issues and addressing harmful social norms, making change possible.

This is why a story, a camera, and a script did not cut it for SandBox. FilmAid's Research and Learning Department stepped in and took it a notch higher, answering the following questions in close consultation with the refugee community in Dadaab: i.e., "pre-testing" the stories and characters for SandBox.

1. Does the material that FilmAid produce have the ability to deliver on its goal? 

2. Is the material relatable? Is it believable?

3. Does it adhere to the "Do No Harm" policy?

4. Are the aesthetics and the creative elements of the story up to local and high standards?

As said by Mordecai Robins Odera, FilmAid's Research and Learning Manager for Kenya, and also the lead on the pre-testing for SandBox, “The scriptwriters should try as much as they can to make the audiences have a uniform understanding”.

The scripting process took place over six weeks, resulting in the final SandBox Script.

Stay tuned for more updates on the SandBox series over the next few months and check us out on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to stay in touch for #SandBox updates.

If you’re interested in hearing more refugee stories straight from the camp, check out our Dadaab Stories interactive website, which brings the power of refugees’ voices from across the world directly to your computer.

And as always, if you’d like to support FilmAid’s training and empowerment of local filmmakers, producers, writers, and actors, click here to find out how you can help.


Yvon Ngabo

World Refugee Day 2014: Take The Time to Meet Three Refugees

Fifteen years ago this month FilmAid produced its first ever film screening for refugees displaced by the conflict in Kosovo.

June 20th marks World Refugee Day 2014 and FilmAid is recognizing it by sharing a new film highlighting the unique and inspiring stories of 3 refugees who live in Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

There are over 45.2 million refugees and displaced people in the world today. Every day, after long and arduous journeys from their homes, thousands of people reach refugee camps like Dadaab in Kenya, Za’atari in Jordan and Mae La in Thailand. Conflict, climate change, and crisis force them to flee and become refugees. They leave behind families, friends and livelihoods.

But FilmAid knows that they are more than just refugees. They are people with courage, talent, and hope. They are individuals with unique stories to tell.

This World Refugee Day, meet Smart, Farida, and Bithou.

Smart, originally from the DRC, is a budding musician. The song, Refugee to Superstar, which provides the soundtrack to the film (it’ll stick in your head all day!) is written and performed by him. Farida, from Burundi, was one of the first students in our Filmmaker Training Program. And finally, Bithou who’s from South Sudan, works as a FilmAid Outreach Facilitator in Kakuma camp. Over the coming months, we'll release a brand new film about each of these talented individuals. 

The average length of time a person spends in a refugee camp is a staggering 17 years. A refugee camp is not always a short stopover, nor a brief moment of security from surrounding turmoil. Children are born in the camps, communities grow, and foundations are rebuilt. 

Smart, Farida, and Bithou’s stories from Kakuma camp are cause for celebration but crises are worsening daily in Syria and South Sudan, and famine and civil war are threatening the safety of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Countless more families will be torn apart and forced from their homes to start new lives in refugee camps. FilmAid work in camps across the world to support these individuals, we give them a platform to tell their stories and remind the world that they are more than just refugees. 

Take The Time to watch and share this inspiring film. Help us spread the word by sharing it on Facebook and Twitter. 

 

SandBox #3: One-on-One with Ledama Sampele, First Assistant Direct

We sat down with Ledama Sampele, a Kenyan filmmaker and the Assistant Director (AD) of FilmAid’s SandBox series, a drama series that explores the lives of refugees in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab. 

The Role of a First Assistant Director

 The First Assistant Director is the Director's right hand person, taking responsibility for a number of important practicalities so that the Director is free to concentrate on the creative process.  During pre-production, the First AD breaks down the script into a shot-by-shot storyboard, they also work with the Director to determine the shoot order, and how long each scene will take to film. They draw up the overall shooting schedule for the filming period.  Once the film is in production, they are in charge of making sure that every aspect of the shoot keeps to this schedule.

What was it like working as the First AD for FilmAid’s SandBox series?

In SandBox, which was shot in Dadaab in early 2014, Ledama Sampele was the First Assistant Director and it seems like he was extremely happy to get this opportunity; “I have always wanted to be an AD for as long as I can remember. This has always been my dream job.” 

Having worked on productions like Makutano JunctionHigher Learning, Changes and Nairobi Half-Life, Ledama brings experience and expertise to the SandBox production. The students in Dadaab’s Filmmaker Training Program were given a real opportunity to learn from his throughout this experience.  

“Every job has its own fair share of challenges and perks.”

During the production of SandBox, the hot and dry climate of sandy Dadaab was perhaps the biggest challenge, which took Ledama some adjusting to. On top of this, our First AD, had to be patient because of the number of rehearsals. Additionally, since this was a single-camera shoot, scenes had to be repeated again and again and shot from different angles which obviously made the production process even more complicated. Despite the challenges of working in Dadaab, Ledama clearly found her work rewarding, “FilmAid is doing a great job. Engaging the youth in the Film Training Program here in Dadaab and this experience on the set is a great opportunity to build…the education of the young people. I hope that many other productions arise from this one”.

Stay tuned for more updates on the SandBox series over the next few months and check us out on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to stay in touch for #SandBox updates. 

If you’re interested in learning about more refugee stories straight from Dadaab, check out our Dadaab Stories interactive website, bringing the power of refugees’ voices directly to your computer.

And as always, if you’d like to support FilmAid’s training and empowerment of local filmmakers, producers, writers, and actors, you can donate here.