Meet the Filmmakers from the 9th Annual Film Festival #Meetthefilmmakers

FilmAid-trained refugee filmmakers pose for a picture at the 9th Annual Film Festival. 

FilmAid-trained refugee filmmakers pose for a picture at the 9th Annual Film Festival. 

FilmAid's 9th Annual Film Festival just finished up this year in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, and Nairobi, Kenya. This year, the festival centered on the theme "Home Away From Home", displaying the unique stories of young refugee filmmakers who have taken part in FilmAid's Media Arts Training Program. This festival gives filmmakers from all over the world the opportunity to share stories that express what "home" means to them. FilmAid's trained refugee filmmakers took part in the Film Festival, submitting their films on their theme as their final project. 

Bereket Gilay, a refugee filmmaker and creator of the film  Adolescent Mind,  which was screened at the FilmAid's 9th Annual Film Festival. 

Bereket Gilay, a refugee filmmaker and creator of the film Adolescent Mind, which was screened at the FilmAid's 9th Annual Film Festival. 

The filmmaker we're highlighting this week is Bereket Gilay, a 23-year-old FilmAid-trained refugee filmmaker and the creator of the film Adolescent Mind, which is being screened at this year's Film Festival. Bereket's film is about a South Sudanese who fled from his country due to civil war and settled in a refugee camp where he made new friends, Dan and Ken. Despite the hardships in the camp, the main character wins a scholarship to study in Canada. Explaining why screening his film is beneficial to both him and other refugees Bereket says, " I can tell my real story, the living conditions and hardships, but most importantly [give] hope for refugees. Through film we can change the community positively." 

Stay tuned for more updates on the #Meethefilmmaker series on our Stories page and stay updated by following our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.


#Meetthefilmmaker is a weekly series by FilmAid International to showcase the refugee filmmakers that have completed the FilmAid Training Program and have created original films that were screened at FilmAid's 9th Annual Film Festival this year. To find out more click here.

If you'd like to support refugees in Kakuma and Dadaab Refugee Camps like Bereket, please donate HERE and help us continue to provide Film Training Programs to refugees in Kenya. 

-K.S.

My Start - From Kakuma to London

My Start Project - Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya

AFRICA

My Start is a collaborative, creative Arts project working with Film Aid International. Since August 2012 My Start has run a series of Art, photography and film workshops in refugee camps each summer. These workshops encourage young refugees to share their experiences through the arts. The workshops teach practical skills, encourage creative expression and bring together the various ethnic and tribal refugee and host communities to work in a fun and dynamic way. 

Kakuma workshop

Kakuma workshop

Kakuma workshop

Kakuma workshop

United Kingdom

The art work produced at the camp is then exhibited in London schools. It acts as a powerful, visual resource that can be used across the curriculum to support learning on global issues. Issues such as conflict and conflict resolution, displacement and migration as well as promoting peace, tolerance and empathy. The exhibition encourages British students to share and discuss their own views on immigration, forced migration and refugees and challenges misconceptions and existing perspectives.

The student response was fantastic and thoroughly engaging
— Alex Costello, Art teacher, Park View School, UK.
                                                 London workshop

                                                 London workshop

The British schools are encouraged to create response work including their own visual diaries and messages for the refugees at Kakuma. This work is then taken back and exhibited at the camp the following summer.  My Start is an inspiring project that brings local and international communities together through the arts.

Creating the Mural - Kakuma Refugee Camp

If you would like to support the work of My Start and their projects with FilmAid International then please contact Tania and Amy or visit My Start's Facebook page.

tania@emmanueljal.com; campbellgoldingamy@googlemail.com

 

 

 

Light in the Shadows - By Hannah Kendi. FilmAid Kenya, Finance Officer

It's my third week in Kakuma and I am loving it. I have always wanted to be a humanitarian; it has always been like a thirst and something I felt I needed to do. I never really knew why, until FilmAid, actually, until I went to Kakuma. This is when I understood the real meaning behind what I do, why FilmAid works here, and why I needed to be a part of an organization like FilmAid. 

Hannah Kendi, Kakuma 2015

Hannah Kendi, Kakuma 2015

February 17, 2015: Field trip day.

Our first stop was the new arrivals camp. The first thing I noticed was that the facilitators were refugees themselves.  Here my colleagues and outreach facilitators were showing a film to a group of extremely attentive women on HIV and AIDS and thereafter conducting an amazing question and answer session.  My love story with FilmAid was just beginning. 

Issuing certificates to a women's group after completing a Health Course, Kakuma 2015

Issuing certificates to a women's group after completing a Health Course, Kakuma 2015

The second stop on our tour of Kakuma was a FilmAid journalism class.  FilmAid had a trainer taking these young men and women through the basics of journalism. I felt the hope in that class, the curiosity and the hunger for more knowledge. I am very passionate about the youth and education and it brought me to tears. It was amazing to learn that the journalism class gets fully involved in ideas and stories for FilmAid’s ‘The Refugee Magazine’.  I was completely blown away.

Next we visited a children’s event and screening.  A screen was set up showing cartoons to around two hundred excited children. This was probably the first chance for many of the children to watch cartoons. In some instances the first time in their lives.  It was wonderful to see their excited faces, hear their laughter and see the enthusiasm in answering questions after the screening. FilmAid gives the chance of normalcy to refugees at every opportunity.

February 29, 2015: My first evening screening.

A huge truck with a screen attached projected a children’s cartoon followed by a story about Cholera. The story was so simple yet so effective in its message. After this a movie was shown that was clearly enjoyed by everyone judging from the laugher and cheers in the nighttime crowds. Education, laughter, hope, teamwork and inspiration all rolled into one. There was literally light in the shadows.

Chivas Regal 

Chivas Regal 

FilmAid -  Projecting Hope, Changing lives. Using the power of film in promoting health, strengthening communities and enriching lives.

Every day I am in awe of the FilmAid team. Everyone is working so hard, co-operating, always on the move. My heart melts every time I watch our incentive staff in action. Talent, passion, hard work, energy and the biggest smiles on their faces. They work hard every day with over fifty activities every week and still, they love it. It’s about the impact, and FilmAid giving them the opportunity to showcase their excellence despite everything they have gone through. This is what Hope is about.

I hear the heat will go to my head soon and that this spark in my eyes will fade eventually. I doubt it. The spark appeared in my heart the minute I landed here in Kakuma. I am too busy falling in love with my job that I don’t even think about the heat. I walk around like a girl with new found love. Completely dazed. 

 

If you'd like to support FilmAid's training courses, media projects and mobile cinema screenings you can donate here.

FilmAid Screenings in Jordan, 2015

#WithSyria screening, March 2014

#WithSyria screening, March 2014

As the prolonged conflict in Syria moves into its fifth year, over 3.9 million Syrians have been forced to flee their homes. This number continues to rise daily. 

The #WithSyria campaign began on the third anniversary of the conflict. In March 2014, FilmAid International traveled to Jordan's Za'atari Refugee Camp, close to the Syrian border, to host a screening of the Palm d'Or-winning film, Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon) to an audience of Syrian refugees.

FilmAid is now back in Jordan one year later to conduct a Mobile Cinema Screening series for women, children and youth within rural and urban areas of Jordan.  

Children take part in a discussion after educational screening, March 2015 

Children take part in a discussion after educational screening, March 2015 

FilmAid has partnered up with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Save the Children to deliver critical health and protection messages to over 1,000 Syrian refugees who have been forced to flee their country. As well as screening educational content, we also show films for entertainment, which provide much-needed joy and psychological relief for communities that have gone through extraordinary trauma. In addition, events like our Mobile Cinema Screenings enhance community cohesion.

During the screenings, youth and children have been able to take part in facilitated community-based discussions. Some children have already expressed their wishes and aspirations to continue their studies, and discussed the problems and challenges they face daily in the refugee camp.

We would like to thank Greyscale Films for their help to make the screenings possible, as well as the other coalition partners, UNHCR and Save the Children. 

If you'd like to support FilmAid's program in Jordan, please visit our Donate page and help us continue to bring life-saving information and hope to Syrian refugees. 

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.  

 

 

 

Bithou's Story

Meet Bithou Gatkuoth. Bithou is 27 years old and originally from South Sudan.  He came to Kakuma as a refugee and now works as an Outreach Facilitator with FilmAid.

FilmAid’s Outreach Facilitators are integral to our work. They work tirelessly to bring about community engagement and participation through various media and workshops.  As an Outreach Facilitator, Bithou is a trusted voice in the community. His day-to-day tasks involve meeting with diverse people across the camp and delivering vital information about camp services, as well as health and safety issues. 

I want to play a key role…to do something to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Bithou features in FilmAid’s recently short film, ‘Take the Time’, in which he describes having to flee his home in South Sudan after being witness to widespread violence, telling us, “…it was a terrible and horrible experience.” 

After finding safety in Kakuma, he became involved with FilmAid with the hope of offering encouragement to other refugees who were facing the struggles of rebuilding their lives after similar experiences. The recent return of ethnic conflict in South Sudan and the steady increase in the number of refugees fleeing from Bithou’s home country means that FilmAid’s work in Kakuma - and the role of outreach facilitators like Bithou - is more important than ever. 

Due to violent civil war, over 1.5 million people from South Sudan have been forced to leave their homes in the past 9 months. At least 40,000 have entered Kakuma Refugee Camp so far in 2014 and they arrive tired, confused, and overwhelmed. 60,000 more South Sudanese refugees are expected to arrive in Kakuma this year and the UN has warned that the country is on the brink of famine.

With your support, FilmAid can continue to bring life saving information to South Sudanese refugees, and help people like Bithou make the positive changes they envisage for their communities.

From ‘Lost Boy’ to Filmmaker: Andrew’s Story

Andrew Sanai Pieny arrived at Kakuma Refugee Camp in July 1992. He was one of the 16,000 ‘Lost Boys’ from Sudan who were the first arrivals at the camp—a group of parentless young boys, who had traveled alone in search of refuge from escalating violence in their homeland.  Andrew had been forced to leave his family at age seven to become a child soldier, but he later escaped and found his way to Kakuma. 

andrewsanai.jpg

After arriving at Kakuma and receiving urgently needed support from NGOs, Andrew joined FilmAid’s Filmmaker Training Program. He had always had an interest in the arts and believed the Filmmaker Training Program offered the creative opportunity he needed. 

Through FilmAid’s training, Andrew became familiar with the fundamental skills of filmmaking, such as scriptwriting, camera work, and editing. FilmAid’s Training Program offered Andrew the technical skills necessary to explore the concerns of his community and to express himself creatively. Completing filmmaker training was only one of many milestones for Andrew.

Having discovered an unwavering passion for film Andrew soon started working as a Filmmaker Training Program (FTP) Facilitator. As a FilmAid facilitator, Andrew worked directly with filmmaker training students during and outside class, sharing his practical knowledge of filmmaking as well as encouraging conversation about films screened through FilmAid's mobile cinema program. Andrew’s involvement in encouraging dialogue was essential to FilmAid’s goals of community engagement and education. These communal discussions allowed refugees at Kakuma to reflect on the films together and consider the movies’ relevance to their own experiences.

It was about changing attitudes and sharing knowledge to guide people. I loved that job.

Andrew continued to seek opportunities to grow as a filmmaker and community leader. He began to work as a production assistant on FilmAid shoots, gaining experience by assisting with the production of informative films for the new arrivals coming into Kakuma. These films are vital in presenting new arrivals with all of the information needed to adjust to new and unfamiliar settings.

Andrew has been able to work with young filmmakers who, like himself, need a creative outlet and a medium through which to express themselves:

It is so great to help them tell their stories. They have so many to tell. People need to learn from these stories.

Andrew has lived in Kakuma camp for over 20 years, having spent the entirety of his adult life as a refugee. He was scheduled to relocate to America in 2001, but his application was canceled shortly after the World Trade Center was attacked. Andrew is grateful for the opportunities that have allowed him to develop his passions and work at Kakuma camp, but he has not given up on his dream to resettle in another country.  

The steady increase in the number of refugees fleeing from Andrew’s home of South Sudan suggests that the work of FilmAid is as valuable as ever. 60,000 more refugees from South Sudan are expected to arrive in Kakuma this year and the UN has warned that the country is on the brink of famine. With your help, FilmAid can continue to bring life saving information to South Sudanese refugees and continue to offer filmmaker training programs for young people like Andrew.