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FilmAid in Daadab - Can A Camera Save A Life?

March 25, 2013
tags:#East Africa, #film, #refugees
by:Jack Bicker
An innovative film project aims to give refugees the opportunity to express themselves, while using creativity as a vehicle for change... and it's already saving lives.

“Why film? Because my friend had killed herself after being raped; after screening our film on sexual violence girls came to me to ask for help. If my friend had seen this film, she might still be alive”.

Film has the power to create and unite communities, inform, engage, and encourage political change, and tuning in to TV or streaming from Youtube answers something of the basic human need to connect. Therefore, FilmAid believes that displaced refugees in east African camps should have exactly the same good access to locally made media -  not only as a means of sharing public information, but also as a forum in which to discuss the often harsh realities of everyday life as a displaced person. 

FilmAid this week launched its new Stories from Dadaab project, a collection of short films made by residents of what is the largest refugee camp in the world, on a wide range of topics relevant to their collective experience.

Involving young people from the camp, and training them in various media production skills, FilmAid's recent films range from an information video warning residents of the symptoms, causes and prevention of cholera, through to a hard hitting drama about sexual violence that acted as a forum for discussion in a culture where rape victims are still stigmatised.

Receiving the correct information is a life-or-death issue in an overstretched camp originally built for 90,00, but which now houses over 400,000. The project therefore plays an important role not only in developing skills and providing displaced young people with a voice, but also by ensuring that information is framed in the language and cultural expectations that residents themselves are used to.

“We understand the basic problems, because it is something that happened to us" commented Liban Rashid, a refugee turned film maker. What FilmAid does is listen to what the community has and needs, come back to FilmAid, make a film out of it, and then show it publicly so that the information is not distorted.” 

The power of narrative has therefore made a profound mark on life in the Dadaab camp, giving a chance to some of the most deprived and challenged people on earth to simultaneously tell their own story, while also helping others by doing so. For those looking on from afar, we too get a real chance to learn about life in Dadaab as presented in an authentic, non-paternalistic way, and are reminded of the perpetual spirit of survival present in Dadaab, which can only spur us on to help.

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jack bicker
Jack Bicker
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