Our first full day in Nairobi before heading to Kakuma, we toured the Kibera slum, the second largest slum in the world that is estimated to host anywhere from 170,000 to 300,000 people. FilmAid screened a local filmmaker’s short about sexual violence and how to deal with it in Kibera. This is one of their many powerful projects here; they fund and teach filmmaking in slums and refugee camps around the world. The films made by FilmAid deal with subjects specific to their region — from AIDS to how to live and get around in a refugee camp. Then the organization travels around the slums and camps, showing the films indoors and outdoors to audiences in excess of 5,000 people.
We left Nairobi at dawn yesterday on a UN plane to Kakuma. Finally, our boots are on the ground and we’re starting our work. We met the FilmAid staff and students at their morning meeting, got immersed into their world and afterward, toured Kakuma. It is vast, and the scope of what goes on here is beyond my writing ability with 100,000 refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Ethiopia, and 2,000 more refugees arriving each month.
Justin Clifton and I have been put in charge of both teaching the students how to run a film festival and help them put on a three-day event to run in conjunction with World Refugee Day in two weeks. The festival will feature films made by the refugees at the two camps in Kenya, the other being Dadab with 500,000 refugees. (Unfortunately, we cannot go there because of safety concerns.)
Last night was our first outdoor screening at the Somalia encampment, and it was truly one of the coolest things I have ever done or witnessed. The plan was to have a smaller screening, about 200 kids and moms (dads were in evening prayer). The kids loved it — everything from the Donald Duck cartoon to an amazing animation about water treatment to avoid cholera and the feature film, Percy Jackson Lighting Thief. Although, truth be told, most of the kids seemed to enjoy just staring at Justin and me (we kind of stick out here).
I’m totally digging what FilmAid is doing. Unfortunately, I cannot take photos of our work in the camp because it is such a mix of cultures and beliefs systems, but I’ve included some other photos of our trip thus far. You can also check out the blog about our trip.