The Dadaab refugee camp is the largest in the world. The people that live here have remarkable stories to tell — they just need a place to share them.
Dadaab is the world's largest refugee settlement. Situated in northern Kenya near the border of Somalia, its five camps are a fragile home to roughly half a million people. By definition, a refugee camp is temporary, but life does not stop here. Love, marriage, children, work, art — life goes on. After two decades, there are more than 8,000 Dadaab grandchildren — children of children who were born in the camp.
Following famine and renewed conflict in the region in 2011, over 100,000 new refugees flooded into the camps. Recently, the region has also been hit by a series of major security incidents, like kidnappings of aid workers and IED explosions. Despite the challenges, the Dadaab story continues to evolve.Explore The Dadaab Stories ▶
Dadaab Stories is an evolving online documentary and ultimately a collaborative community media project. It is a place for refugees to share their stories with the world. It's an initiative of FilmAid, a humanitarian media organization that has been making, teaching and screening films in Dadaab since 2006.
Dadaab Stories is nonlinear and multimedia. Stories are told through video, photography, poetry, music and journalism. Everyone in the Dadaab refugee camp has a story to tell, and this is the place to share these stories. Just like Dadaab itself, Dadaab Stories is always changing, and new content is added regularly.Explore The Dadaab Stories ▶
We want to hear your stories! Have you lived or worked in Dadaab? Are you living there currently? If so, choose a way to tell your story and send it to us. We accept photography, poetry, prose, audio, and video stories. If it’s too big to email, post it online and send us the link. With videos we require that you upload your story to YouTube and then send us the link.
We will review whatever you send us, and if we feel it has a place in Dadaab Stories, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s posted.
Please e-mail submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
FilmAid presents Dadaab Stories
Supported by the TFI New Media Fund and the Ford Foundation
Supporters and Partners:
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, Internews, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Active Voice, Shelbyville Multimedia, Refugees International, IRIN, Handicap International, Cinemoi, RefugePoint, UNOCHA, International Rescue Committee, International Organization for Migration, Peace One Day, Refugee Consortium of Kenya, Creative Time, Refugees United, Star FM, Jesuit Hakamani Centre
A refugee camp is a transitory settlement, yet paradoxically many refugees spend their whole lives in Dadaab. Together the camps make up a city of almost half a million people – with all the complexities that entails.
The challenges faced by people living in Dadaab may be different than those in a more conventional city, but life’s small rewards can be remarkably similar. Explore this section and see for yourself.
The Arts play a central role in the culture of the Horn of Africa and this is reflected in day-to-day life in Dadaab. From the sugary Somali pop music which blares from tea-stalls to traditional Gambella wedding dances, life is routinely expressed through creative mediums which strike a universal chord.
More than 35 humanitarian agencies, along with the government of Kenya and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), are responsible for providing a vast array of services to the residents of Dadaab. From medical care and food distribution to legal aid, IT training, business loans and basketball courts, find out what it takes to run the world’s largest refugee camp.
From a refugee who has spent his or her life in Dadaab to a humanitarian worker or visiting celebrity, there are a variety of viewpoints to be shared on a multitude of issues in a camp of nearly 500,000 people. Explore their stories to learn about their experiences in this remarkable city in the desert.
You can also explore The Refugee News Tumblr, which features articles from a newspaper written by and for refugees in Dadaab, along with photography, radio, poetry, blogs and articles from Dadaab Stories partner organizations.
Everyone has a story to tell. Meet individuals who have been touched by Dadaab, and hear their stories. You might be surprised.
The impact of Dadaab reaches all the way around the globe. Over the two decades that the camp has existed, refugees have come and gone, with some returning home, and some resettling to third countries in Europe, North America or Australia. The ties between this Diaspora community and Dadaab remain incredibly strong.
In the midst of the Somali famine crisis in 2011, New York based video producer Ryan Jones spent over a month in Dadaab refugee camp where he witnessed first hand some of the extraordinary experiences that make up Dadaab Stories. Prior to his time in Kenya, Ryan directed the feature-length documentary 'Fall from Grace' and produced content for such outlets as Newsweek, GQ, The Guardian, and The New York TImes. As co-creator of Dadaab Stories, Ryan has managed the overall design and development, contributing a wealth of on-ground and production experience in making this project come to life.
Australian media-maker and journalist Rafiq Copeland envisioned Dadaab Stories during time spent in the camps as FilmAid’s Emergency Response Coordinator and Communications Manager. Rafiq has worked extensively with refugees, production partners and implementing agencies in Dadaab to coordinate and oversee Dadaab-based production and editorial vision. Rafiq is currently setting up a community radio station in Dadaab with international media NGO Internews.
A longtime independent media-maker and advocate, Liz Manne witnessed the powerful stories and ever-present needs of refugees around the globe during her tenure as Executive Director of FilmAid International. From conception to release, Liz nurtured the creative and strategic vision of Dadaab Stories, overseeing the design, development, production and promotion of the project and global team.
Ramah Hawkins is a Kenyan filmmaker, producer, activist and musician. As supervising producer, Hawkins wrote, filmed and edited Dadaab-based content as well as mentoring local refugee filmmakers, photographers and journalists in creative and technical production.
As Program manager of FilmAid in Dadaab, John Kilungu has worked in depth with the local refugee, host and humanitarian community in Dadaab camp. As Co-producer on Dadaab Stories, John guided the Dadaab project team through production development as well as working with the global team on logistics and support.
Based in Nairobi as Program Director of FilmAid Kenya, Victor Ombonya has spent more than 5 years working with the refugee and displaced communities in Kenya. Victor has contributed creative and technical guidance on the Dadaab Stories project.
Charles Otieno, Technical Advisor at FilmAid Kenya, has worked with the refugee, host and partner community of Dadaab refugee camp for over 5 years. As co-producer on Dadaab Stories, Charles has managed Kenya-based staff, content, logistics and support of the production team.
Australia-based Eliza Percival, has met and heard the incredible stories of refugees in Kenya, working as Communications Officer for FilmAid Kenya in Nairobi for the past year. As a co-producer, Eliza has coordinated the PR and publicity of the project, coordinated domestic and international partnerships and content and worked with production editorial.
Filmmaker Liban Rashid Muhammad is a Somali refugee who has lived in Dadaab since 1992. As a field producer, Liban coordinated production and community outreach, identifying stories, arranging production schedules and managing the involvement of subjects and participants. In addition, Liban is a journalist, filmmaker and photographer for the Refugee Newspaper and the Youth Chairman for the Ifo camp in Dadaab. Liban's film 'Welcome to Dadaab' won best film at the 2011 FilmAid Film Festival.
Journalist and filmmaker Abdirashid has lived in Dadaab for 20 years, arriving at the age of 7. Abdi has been involved extensively in the Dadaab Stories project, contributing as field producer, editor of The Refugee Newspaper, production director, cameraman and host of 'The Tour', as well as coordinating community and production outreach in the camps.
Akune Obang Atale comes from Ethiopia's Gambella region. As field producer, Akune worked with production facilitation and development, in particular facilitating production with minority communities. Akune is also a filmmaker and talented writer, selected for the Maisha Film Lab in 2010 to workshop one of his screenplays.
Mohamed Bashir Sheikh or 'Africa' as he is known to his friends is a Somali Refugee who lives in Dadaab with his family. As field producer, Bashir worked to facilitate community outreach, scheduling, development and production and was the assistant producer on 'Hormud Youth Generator'. Also a subject of the Dadaab Story 'Africa', Bashir is a journalist, radio presenter and documentary filmmaker.
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FilmAid is a nonprofit organization that uses the power of film and media to bring life-saving information, psychological relief and much-needed hope to refugees and other communities in need around the globe.