Skills Development

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

 

 

 

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.  

 

 

 

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

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.  

SandBox #2: My name is Njoki Mbuthia…I am a Filmmaker

ProducerNjoki.jpg

This week, as part of our SandBox blog series, we are going to be talking to one of the producers of the show.

Njoki Mbuthia, a Kenyan filmmaker and Senior Producer at FilmAid, sat down to talk with us about her role as a producer for FilmAid’s SandBox, our unique drama series that explores the lives of refugees in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab. SandBox addresses a number of issues affecting the communities living in the Dadaab, like early marriage, gender violence and conflict resolution, among other issues.

Generally, producers have overall control on every aspect of a film's production, bringing together and approving the selection of the whole production team. Their primary responsibility is to foster an environment in which the creative talents of the cast and crew can flourish - producers are therefore ultimately accountable for the success of the finished film.

“I have been a writer for as long as I can remember,” says Njoki when asked. She used to write stories when she was young; her classmates would read them and always ask for her to write more. Njoki has been in the film industry from as far back as college, where she was a news editor and producer. She has also worked as a floor manager and a production intern at the Kenya Broadcast Cooperation (KBC). Throughout her stay at KCB, she shadowed directors. She later joined Good News Production where she caught a break as a director when they needed a director for a feature film, “Unseen Unsung Unforgotten”, and she rose to the challenge.

What is it like to work as a producer?

“Producing is very challenging, and that is what I enjoy about it. In the film industry, the producer usually writes a proposal and chooses which script should go into play when the script is not predetermined. He/she also looks for funds by pitching the story or script to potential donors/investors. He /she also ensures that the production goes according to schedule. A producer ensures that the script is properly aligned with the theme of the production. Pre-Production is preparation of the venue, the actors, the location and the days of shooting, among other details. Production is the filming process or shooting of the film. Post-Production includes video editing and sound editing.

 

How was it working as a Producer for SandBox?

“I chose to produce for SandBox because it was an opportunity to challenge myself and share my experience with the professional team on board as well as the Filmmaker Training Program students, whom I believe are upcoming professionals.”

“What is most exciting about the series is that it is authentically from Dadaab, the actors are from Dadaab, most of the crew is from Dadaab. Some parts are even shot in local dialect, like Somali and Gambela. The students and our staff on the ground have had a great opportunity to learn from the industry professionals we contracted.“

Stay tuned for SandBox #3 episode of our blog and check us out on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to stay in touch for #SandBox updates.

If you’re also 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, click here to find out how you can help. 

Sandbox #1: An Introduction to the Drama Series

We’re introducing you today to our new blog post series, focused on our recent production of SandBox, a unique six-part drama series that explores the lives of refugees in the world’s largest refugee camp, Dadaab, in Northeastern Kenya. As part of FilmAid’s long-standing work in Dadaab, SandBox was made in conjunction with the refugee community members, to address health and social issues, as well as entertain the masses.

As we go through these series of blog posts over the next few months, we’ll introduce you to some of the people who worked on this production and take you behind the scenes to understand the challenges and opportunities that existed while filming in Dadaab. To start off the blog post series, let us tell you a little about the story of SandBox, and how its story addresses a number of issues affecting those who live in the camp, such as early marriage, gender-based violence (GBV), conflict resolution, and much more. 

SandBox is a drama series, which examines the daily lives of those people who live in Dadaab. The production weaves the stories of many refugees into a single, cohesive narrative. One of our main characters is Abdi, a young man whose quest for resettlement ends abruptly. His best chance of making a life now is by getting married to his sweetheart, Farhia, and becoming a family man. However, Abdi becomes an outcast in his community after he saves his little sister from early marriage. Meanwhile, Sarai is a new entrant into Dadaab. She has come to work for an NGO addressing child protection. Sarai arrives on a white horse, believing she has what it takes to ‘save’ these people from themselves and their ‘backward beliefs’. But Sarai is about to come face to face with reality. Can she truly adjust and be of use in Dadaab? Or does she discover this isn’t for her, after all?

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

 If you’re interested in learning about more refugee stories straight from the camp, check out our Dadaab Stories interactive website, which brings 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, click here to find out how you can help.

Yvon Ngabo

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

FilmAid's Research, Learning and Outreach

Ilana Sackler-Berner spent three weeks in Kenya working with FilmAid’s Outreach and Research and Learning teams in Nairobi and Kakuma. Here she reflects on her time with FilmAid.

This February, I had the incredible fortune of working with FilmAid in Nairobi and visiting Kakuma Refugee Camp.  I live and work in New York City as a public health professional.  This was my first trip to Africa.  I plan to return!

FilmAid delivers media content in Kakuma and Dadaab that is designed to inform refugees about critical issues affecting their lives (from health education to human rights, conflict resolution to economic empowerment) and to provide psychosocial relief.  In order to show that these programs have a practical impact on the lives of refugees, FilmAid conducts ongoing research to monitor and evaluate the reach, quality, and outcomes of programs.  I worked with FilmAid to design an approach to do just this.  Maybe not glamorous work (I love it anyways!!), but essential for continued and future funding.           

In Kakuma, I had the pleasure of conducting a training for the refugee facilitators of FilmAid’s Video Workshop Series.  These wonderful women and men are inspiring.  They are leaders. They are knowledgeable about the issues facing their communities, and skilled in delivering critical messages and facilitating engaging discussions.  They are kind, open-minded, and work hard to make a difference every day.  I am in awe of them.       

While in Kakuma, I attended an evening screening in the new arrivals section of the camp.  What a magical experience.  I think now I understand what FilmAid means by ‘the power of film.’  It is difficult to describe the emotion I felt in that moment.    

I am back in the United States now and I have taken many moments to ‘evaluate the impact’ my time in Kenya had on me personally.  I have no doubt it has changed me for the better.  I’d like to thank FilmAid’s staff in Kenya for being such wonderful hosts, teachers, and friends.  A very special thank you to Mordecai, FilmAid's Research and Learning Officer.  It was an absolute pleasure working with you.