Fifteen years ago, as I lay in bed, listening to morning radio, my heart ached from the tales of children languishing in refugee camps. I had been following the plight of the Kosovar refugees for months: each image and story intensifying my desire to do something, anything.
The radio report detailed the emotional trauma, boredom, uncertainty, and the high toll that war extracts from innocent, displaced peoples – especially women and children. Key necessities, like food, medicine, and shelter were being delivered by aid agencies; but people were still left in a state of fear and hopelessness. As a professional filmmaker, I wondered if movies could provide some psychological relief, and with that thought, a door to the complex world of humanitarian aid cracked open, I stepped through and FilmAid was born.
The original idea was to hold outdoor screenings to feed the imagination and the soul while providing life-saving messages on the big screen. I assembled a crew of committed volunteers and a stash of films. Six weeks later, I was on my way to Macedonia, armed with what would become FilmAid’s first Mobile Cinema - a generator, projectors, and screens loaded into the back of a truck. FilmAid's experience in Macedonia and Kosovo successfully proved the power of the big screen: films restore hope and provide education and inspiration.
Over the years, FilmAid has brought the power of film to millions of refugees and displaced persons, in environments as diverse as Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, Nairobi slums, New Orleans, the Thailand-Myanmar border, Afghanistan, Haiti and most recently Jordan. Our programs now include participatory filmmaking, skills training, facilitated video workshops, mass awareness campaigns, and mentoring to help refugees achieve their dreams.
Despite FilmAid’s successes, sadly, we all still wake up to stories of people fleeing their homes. They are driven from safety and comfort by human cruelty or natural disasters. Civil wars, conflict and genocide leave millions homeless around the world. Three years into Syria’s civil war over 9 million people have been forced to flee their homes. The ongoing turmoil in South Sudan continues to displace people into neighboring countries. The global refugee situation is becoming more urgent than ever before. We need your help to continue and expand our work.
Fifteen years ago, a radio report caused me to get up and start this journey. Please support us by donating now. Your generosity will help us educate, empower and inspire refugees displaced by conflict and natural disaster from South Sudan to Syria and Thailand to Colombia. Let me paraphrase philosopher Bertrand Russell when he described his three simple passions: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the compassion for the suffering of mankind. These continue to drive me and so many others to do what we can to ease the pain of others. FilmAid embodies this universal human spirit and is deeply committed to projecting hope and giving voice to those whose voices are rarely heard.
Thank you for your continued support. We couldn’t do this work without you!
Founder, FilmAid International