twenty - four young Syrian refugees were given cameras, tripods, microphones, and notepads. Over a two week period, they made six films about their lives in and around the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan.
The films were remarkable: a local musician who started the first refugee camp band. A woman who launched an eggplant pickling business to provide for her family. An albino teacher who sought to empower young people through poetry.
There are 13.5 million displaced Syrians worldwide, and 600,000 in Jordan alone. Some are settled in cities, but several hundred thousand live in three major refugee camps. CARE operates in these camps, providing humanitarian relief and educational and development services.
CARE and Epic worked to develop a hands-on curriculum for the kids in Azraq to learn about storytelling, and how to shoot, direct, and edit themselves. The kids worked in groups of four, each playing a different key role in the process, and all the films were shown in a “film festival,” where the new filmmakers presented their work to friends and family and stood up to answer questions.
In the news, Syrian refugees get simplified to one narrative. Their stories get reduced to fear or pity. But the stories told by the Azraq refugees themselves tell a differ ent story. They tell many stories. Refugees may have experienced tragedy and loss, but their stories are no different than ours. They are funny, endearing, reflective, and challenging. This is why we want to expand the film lab beyond Azraq, to give voice to refugees, provide creative skills to young people in those communities, and allow people to tell their stories in their own words.
This will allow us to bring two labs to all three of the major refugee camps in Jordan and two labs within the West Bank. Teaching multiple labs will give the students more advanced training, so they can learn over time and utilize storytelling as a career opportunity.