The Refugee Identity in a Film

As a country Kenya has tried to alleviate the conditions of refugees especially those living in Urban areas, But have we done enough ? There is still a huge gap in access to essential public services between refugees and the host community. Refugee women and girls continue to face existing barriers in access to these services contributed by underlying factors like discrimination on their status, language barriers, extortion, gender based violence , discrepancies in service cost among many.
According to UNHCR data as per 31 December 2021.Kenya hosts 540,000 refugees and Asylum seekers mainly in camps and Urban areas like the capital, Nairobi, with women and children making up to 77% of the number. With the high number, Urban refugee women are exposed to greater risks than men in place where they are marginalized by cultural and religious beliefs. Some live in the poorest areas within the city which increases their risks of economic extortion and harassment by gender predators & sometimes police..In addition, levels of poverty increase vulnerability to abuse and exploitation. Lack of documentation is not a new problem for refugees. With no valid documents, women cannot access vital services like health and education and even decent employment.

The Film project “Promoting women refugee rights to basic services” is a production that seeks to send this alert, advocate, inform and address improvement of service delivery to urban refugee women. The film is a collaborative initiative sponsored by the Canadian Embassy and produced by Slum TV, co-produced by African Grassroot Media Alliance(AGMA) partnering with local Refugee Lled Organisations and CBOs like the Youth Voices Community, Umoja Refuge CBO and Bortopa group.

One would ask, Are refugee women and girls given equal attention in service delivery centers at government institutions within the city ? Are they fairly charged on the costs of services rendered to them ? Are they offered services in a language they can understand? Are they given the attention they need at time of need? Are they guided on what to do and who to approach in difficult times? The answer could much advocacy campaign have we put to influence service providers and decision makers on the importance of offering refugees equal access to public services just like the host community ? Have we educated enough the host community on why refugees need to be loved, cared for, empathized and integrated? Have we informed refugees on how and where to seek access to vital services in case of need.

The Film project provides a platform where this array of pre-existing problems can be addressed and tackled in an angle that addresses their need for adequate access to quality Healthcare, Education, shelter and Employment opportunities

The objective is to produce a feature film for an advocacy campaign geared towards improving service delivery to urban refugee women. The film should be relevant to the women’s resilience, adaptive functioning, and coping capacity necessary to thrive within the host country.

The film will be used to promote engagement with policy makers, decision makers and service providers to reconsider policy that places refugees in this precarious situation, accentuate the need for programmes for urban refugee women to reduce disparities and foster more inclusive trajectories.

Who does the Film target?

The film will primarily target policy makers working within government and non-governmental organizations, decision makers in the Kenyan government and international agencies working in the refugee sector within the East African Region who would be convinced to see the film since the topic fits their mandate. They may want to know how they are perceived and portrayed in the work they do. they will be shocked to realize  how lack of documentation (Identity Card) takes a toll on people’s lives and it severely dehumanizes them. They will Be called upon to avoid inaction, indecision and lethargy and push harder for the refugees.

The other audience will be  Community and humanitarian Service providers including schools, hospitals, police, immigration agencies and NGOs staff providing services to refugees who  would be interested to explore how their services are rated in the community and feedback on the quality of the services they provide, they will learn that refugee work is important, get motivated and also push harder and advocate further for the refugees.

The host community will be interested in the film out of curiosity to learn more about refugees, who they are, why they are here, how they got here and what they go through which would drive them to learn how they can engage and co-exist with refugees. The host community will also learn that being a refugee can happen to anyone hence they need to develop respect for refugees and strive for peaceful coexistence

While on their part, refugees will be seeking to explore if the film addresses the reality of their exact situation and whether it’s conveying the actual message to decision makers.

How will the film be delivered?

The project seeks to distribute the film through :

Theater screening targeting Government and NGO staff and at advocacy events.

Public screening events in social halls for host and refugee communities while some pushed as Short formats on social media.

Entry into film festivals and adjoined film markets

TV – initially sell to broadcasters and eventually provide for free

Post it on YouTube channels of collaborating organizations.

Why is this film important?

The film will drive to Improved services to urban refugees especially to women and children, service providers will exercise equal service delivery to both the host community and refugees without discrimination against Nationality, socio-cultural and ethnic connections. Refugee women will get an equal chance to access services they have been derailed for long or find difficult to access, they will get a chance to access these services in a more cheap, friendly, transparent, flexible and improved way. Furthermore there will be Greater and more transparent involvement of refugees in the policy and decision making arenas where they will be considered as important decision makers in the decision making process especially on issues affecting them directly and not just as supportive members or partners. Women will be put at the forefront in addressing and responding to issues affecting them and their well-being.

With the delivery variables the  Film targets to reach viewership of about 40 staff of Government  & Non-governmental organizations involved in decision making and service provision to urban refugees and at least 1000 members of the public within the host community expecting  At least 60% of the  respondents  in the audience to  indicate that the film has changed their beliefs and opinions, stereotypes and attitudes about refugees.Refugees are also expected to gain more confidence that will gear them to drive robust advocacy for their issues and seeking priority and recognition in decision making processes on matters affecting them either as first respondents or equal partners.

This significant approach will be a game changer for refugees especially women and girls but there is still a lot to be done to ensure its success. The film project requires an estimated budget of USD 16,200 to achieve its core objectives, with a current assured budget of USD 8,500, the project welcomes  more donations. An online fundraising campaign will as soon be developed when a film promo is in place. 

With this Film running, finally there will be hope for urban refugees that their long silent cries will have landed on listening ears and powerful hands that can influence and make change to improve their lives within the cities.

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