Community Outreach

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. 

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.

World Humanitarian Day 2014

World Humanitarian Day is a time to recognize those who face danger and adversity to help others. As numbers of refugees increase, forcibly displaced people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid. Today, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has exceeded 50 million people.

In recognizing World Humanitarian Day, FilmAid wish to honor our Outreach Facilitators who work tirelessly to ensure FilmAid’s media content and information reaches as many individuals as possible. Performing challenging work in circumstances and in environments that many are unable or unwilling to enter, they are undoubtedly our Humanitarian Heroes.  

Amelia.jpg

Bithou, who was featured in our film 'Take The Time', is 27 and originally from South Sudan. He currently lives in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. He has been a refugee for 12 years, since leaving behind the conflict in his hometown of Juba, South Sudan's capital. Bithou has been a FilmAid Outreach Facilitator since 2010. He plays a crucial role in assuring that everyone has equal access to important information through our film screenings and workshops. 

Our Facilitators use media and film to support new arrivals in the registration process at the camp, they help them to understand their rights as refugees, and inform them how to access key services throughout their stay.

"My goal for the future is that I should play a key role or do something makes a difference in other people's lives" Bithou tells us. Bithou, and all of FilmAid's Outreach Facilitators, are incredible examples of Humanitarian Heroes. Our Outreach Facilitators are usually refugees themselves. They have escaped conflict and experienced substantial personal tragedy, but are committed to helping others. They refuse to be seen as victims. Instead, they make it their mission to support, assist and help those who are in need.

No humanitarian effort can succeed without the commitment of those individuals who work in the field every day. It is for this reason that we are celebrating our Outreach Facilitators as Humanitarian Heroes today. Please join us by sharing your appreciation for FilmAid's #HumanitarianHeroes onTwitter and Facebook

Stay tuned for more from Bithou. We'll be sharing a film dedicated to him and his story in the next couple of weeks.

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

Farida's Story: From Facilitator to Filmmaker in Kakuma Camp

“When people talk about film, they say it’s for men, especially in African culture. They think a woman can never hold a camera. People think film is only acting, but there are so many roles in filmmaking, and a woman can do anything if she has the opportunity to learn” Farida Naimana tells FilmAid in Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. 

Farida, 23, who is originally from Burundi, was one FilmAid’s first students in Kakuma. A camp which is receiving record numbers of refugees for the second consecutive year. The camp was originally established in 1992 to serve Sudanese refugees, but has since expanded to serve people from Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Uganda, and Rwanda. Kakuma’s population is close to 125,000 but growing rapidly every year. 

Farida’s experience as a FilmAid student led her to taking on the role of Outreach Facilitator within the camp. FilmAid’s Outreach Facilitators are integral and unique, they work tirelessly to bring about community engagement and participation through various media and workshops.  Farida's day would involve meeting with diverse people across the camp and delivering programs or workshops in the midst of the dust storms and harsh desert environment of the camp. 

For Farida, the skills she gained as a Facilitator, meant she was eager to challenge herself further and enter the field of film production. She quickly joined our Filmmaker Training Program. Farida tells us, “I had to start from scratch when I moved to production. I did not know how to operate simple equipment like the camera and big computers. Now I am learning how to handle a camera, shoot, edit the videos and actually produce content”.

Farida’s story reveals how passion and creativity can be ignited through exposure to new opportunities like our Filmmaker Training Program. Many people living in refugee camps don't have the chance to learn new skills, and opportunities for expressing creativity are lacking. Farida not only rejects any stereotype suggesting that women cannot be involved in film, but she proves that talents can flourish in the most challenging places.

Want to know about how women benefit from our Filmmaker Training Program in Dadaab refugee camp? Click here

Stand #WithSyria on Third Anniversary of Conflict

As balloons surround the little boy and whisk him away across the skyline, the enraptured audience of young Syrian children breaks into cheers and applause.  And so ends the FilmAid screening of the Palm d'Or-winning film, Le Ballon Rouge ("The Red Balloon") bringing much needed joy to children displaced by the ongoing tragedy in Syria nearly 60 years after its production.

I am writing to you from Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan on the third anniversary of the conflict in Syria.  A conflict that has seen nearly half the country's population forced to flee from their homes and that has claimed over 100,000 lives.  Today, FilmAid joined a global coalition of over 100 NGOs and charities that are coming together to mark this anniversary with a call for solidarity and hope.

Candle-lit vigils and the release of red balloons, inspired by street artist Banksy's reworking of his iconic "girl with a red balloon" image are taking place around the world, from Trafalgar Square in London, to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Moscow and Paris. Close to Syria’s border, in Za'atari refugee camp, children displaced by the conflict also participated in the #WithSyria campaign by releasing balloons and watching the film.

As you can imagine, it was an incredibly moving event and I'm very proud that FilmAid could be involved. This was our first activity in support of Syrian refugees, however, I hope it is not the last. Over the coming weeks and months we will be looking at how we can provide information and empowerment to the millions that have been displaced by the ongoing conflict.

Please support FilmAid as we stand #WithSyria at this crucial moment. Post on Facebook or Tweet a message of support. Visit WithSyria.com to learn more.

I'd like to thank Films Distribution for their help to make the screening possible as well as the other coalition partners, including Save the Children, Oxfam, Norwegian Refugee Council, Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, Arab Network for NGO Development and the Permanent Peace Movement.

-- Simon Goff, Executive Director

Reconnecting Families Through Film

FilmAid and Refugees United have partnered to develop educational video materials to strengthen the ongoing effort to reconnect individuals and families who have been separated by war, conflict and other catastrophes. The films will promote and demonstrate Refugees United’s mobile application, which is the newest addition to the most successful system ever in reconnecting refugees and displaced persons across the globe.

A 20-minute drama video will be scripted and shot by FilmAid’s filmmaker students in Kakuma Refugees Camp, and the final product will be translated into Sudanese, Somalia and Congolese languages before being screened across the camp. FilmAid’s commitment to the participatory video approach ensures that the refugees in Kakuma are empowered in informing their own community in the most effective context.

This new initiative sees the RefUnite platform go mobile in order to provide better access for refugees in the camps, and across the world, to reconnect with their loved ones. Our partnership is crucial in directly helping families reconnect with missing loved ones through a safe and secure search tool that allows for full anonymity without incurring any costs.

Once completed, the film will be screened during FilmAid’s daytime and evening screening programs in Kakuma. Through 30 evening screenings the project will reach over 12,000 people, and daytime screenings include the opportunity for in-depth discussions and question and answer sessions about the search tool and the operations of Refugees United.

FilmAid supports and works closely with other humanitarian agencies in an effort to improve the lives of refugees living across the world. For this reason, we are very excited about our partnership with Refugees United as we now work together toward reaching their goal of reconnecting one million families displaced by war, conflict and catastrophe by 2015.

Please visit our YouTube channel to see the short films we have previously produced. 

Emmanuel Jal takes Peace Campaign to Kakuma

Emmanuel Jal visited Kakuma Refugee Camp in partnership with FilmAid International on September 28, during his international We Want Peace Tour. Former Sudan war child and refugee, now hip-hop star and activist, Emmanuel’s visit held special resonance for the international star and his audience. In Kakuma, Jal recorded “Yei,” a song about overcoming struggles and getting through the difficult situations.  Created by Silverstone and Jal, the performance featured talented refugee music artists from Kakuma and will be launched internationally with FilmAid International in November. Jal also recorded a music video of one of his hit singles in the beautiful scenery of Kakuma with the help of FilmAid’s student filmmakers. “I am extremely amazed by the great talent in the camp ranging from filmmaking and singing to dancing, and I loved being able to collaborate with them and inspire them through my own experiences,” said Jal.

As part of his We Want Peace Tour, the soft-spoken peace ambassador had an opportunity to speak with the South Sudanese communities at the camp, promoting peace and the importance of entrepreneurism, which he feels is lacking among young people in the community. Jal also engaged the elders in a panel discussion on ways to finding lasting peace in Sudan and the possibility of repatriation for the Sudanese community in Kakuma. As an advocate of women’s rights, Jal pledged funds to the education of women and girls in the Sudan.

On Saturday September 28, Emmanuel Jal and traditional and contemporary dance groups and musical artists treated audiences of many different nationalities in Kakuma to electric performances. The crowds stood through the entire performance, enjoying hit after hit from Jal singing alongside his sister, Nyaruach and his other backup singer Nyamal. Nyaruach and Nyamal traveled from Dadaab refugee camp to be a part of the concert.

As a witness to the atrocities of Sudan’s second civil war and having been a child soldier himself, Emmanuel now uses music to tell his story and advocate for peace. The We Want Peace campaign aims to “raise awareness on the fundamental principles of justice, equality, unification and conflict prevention.” Following his time in Kakuma, Jal took the We Want Peace Tour to Johannesburg, where he performed and spoke at the One Young World Summit in alongside Kofi Annan, Richard Branson, Yunes Mohamed and Bob Geldof. Later this month he will travel to Zambia for a community and school tour in Lusaka.

At FilmAid we are often fortunate to meet individuals who have incredible and unbelievable stories. Occasionally we get to work with someone who has truly seen the darkest parts of humanity only to emerge empowered and motivated to advocate for social justice and human rights. These inspiring individuals are everywhere and all deserve to have their stories told and their voices heard. We are glad to support Emmanuel Jal’s We Want Peace Tour in Kenya. 

Music, Movies, and Magic

WhyFilm

There's something magical about the combination of film and music.  Some of the most popular FilmAid screenings in the camps consist solely of silent footage -- of a cartoon cat and mouse, or a little black-and-white tramp with a cane; pure, escapist slapstick.

But the music that accompanies it elevates it, and the minds of those who watch it, just as the words of a particularly poignant song can add resonance to the images on the screen before you.  To that end, we'd like to point you once more in the direction of Soundcheque, the wonderful original music for film service which has been providing gems like our recent 'Love Online' with music. 

That combination can work even more magically in the form of a call to action or to raise awareness of real events and embed their significance in the mind of the watcher.  Right now we're impressed with Ellie Goulding's latest collaboration with Save the Children, an initiative which sees sales of her amazing song I Know You Care going to help the organization with its work with Syrian children.  Goulding had teamed up with Universal Records and Save the Children through digital marketing agency STEAK to ensure that downloads of the song, originally made for the filmNow Is Good starring Dakota Fanning, go to the appeal.  

All of which comes as a 'by the way' to remind you of our fabulous contest to produce a music video for us. In collaboration with creative crowdsourcers Talenthouse, we are looking for a music video that tells the stories of refugees, set to the haunting track 'Home Again' by Michael Kiwanuka.  Fantastic prizes are on offer to the winner and the winner of the popular vote.  This is your way of helping us tell the story of the individuals we work with.  Please get involved and spread the word!