Celebrating the Olympics in Kakuma

This past August FilmAid partnered with The International Olympic Committee, The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Amnesty International and Globecast to broadcast the Olympic Games live in Kakuma Refugee Camp in honor of the first-ever refugee team.

A win from Team Refugees would change how the world views refugees.
— Lazarus Deng, South Sudanese photographer living in Kakuma

This historical event was the first time that refugees were competing in the Olympic Games. Additionally, it was the first time many residents of Kakuma had even watched the Olympic broadcasts live. The screenings provided a great opportunity for the refugee community to follow the events live from the Games in Rio, and most importantly, the races that their fellow refugees were participating in. Thousands of men, women and children gathered to watch the games each evening, sometimes in the middle of the night, bringing mats, jerry cans and other items to secure their space in front of FilmAid’s mobile cinema.

In our culture the games belong to the men. This is my first time to see her doing something like that
— Margaret Nachi (Aunt of Refugee Olympic Team member Anjelina Nadai)
 Community watches The Olympic Games - Kakuma - ©FilmAid/Otieno

Community watches The Olympic Games - Kakuma - ©FilmAid/Otieno

In particular, youth were overjoyed with the opportunity to watch their friends and neighbors participating in this highly competitive, worldwide event. The younger generations in particular were inspired by the screenings: seeing their peers preform on the international stage encouraged many in Kakuma to work hard as the athletes achievements showed the community it is possible to succeed in ambitious goals, whether they be in sports, film making, or entrepreneurship. As FilmAid filmmaker Abdul Patient said after watching the broadcasts, "I believe I can achieve my dreams, because Team Refugees gives me hope. One day, one time, maybe I'll be somewhere for my talent." In total, five South Sudanese refugees from Kakuma Refugee Camp took part in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

I believe I can achieve my dreams, because Team Refugees gives me hope. One day, one time, maybe I’ll be somewhere for my talent.
— Abdul Patient, Burundian filmmaker living in Kakuma Refugee Camp

The 2016 Rio Olympic broadcasts was a historical exercise that motivated refugees to believe that talent combined with hard work can help someone achieve their dreams. The broadcasts themselves also brought the much needed psycho-social relief to the refugee community and they were extremely grateful to The Olympic Broadcast Committee, United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Amnesty International, Globecast and FilmAid for making it possible. Read our full report on FilmAid's screening here.