"Let us tell our stories"

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Intense fighting in Syria has forcibly displaced more people today than any other country. Every day, thousands of Syrians flee violence to seek out food, protection, medical care and other urgently needed aid. There are 13.5 million people Syrian displaced or in desperate need of humanitarian aid, and at least half of the displaced are children. In Jordan, Azraq refugee camp is home to 55,000 refugees and 57% are under 18; there are another 8,800 refugees living outside of the camp in the neighbouring town of Azraq.

As a part of CARE’s holistic approach to treating the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of the most vulnerable, while also responding to the requests of Syrian youth refugees, the Azraq film School was born.

The Azraq Film School, co-created by young residents of Azraq Refugee Camp, CARE Jordan and CARE Innovation team members, consists of digital storytelling “boot camps” and film engagement learning opportunities. In 2017, two film boot camps took place in the Azraq refugee camp, and in the surrounding Azraq township, with 30+ youth refugee participants. Partnering with film professionals (local and international), AFS conducts in-depth week-long storytelling experiences, where storytellers and filmmakers lead hands-on workshops with young refugees. These intensives will result in the creation of films for a Syrian youth refugee film-canon that will be a part of a global narrative of the diverse experiences and enduring spirit of refugees during the greatest crisis since WWII.

Syrian youth students were paired with professional filmmakers to learn technical skills around film production, including script-writing, lighting, directing, filming, and editing.

The Azraq Film School addresses three major challenges:

  1. To counter the one-dimensional narrative in mainstream media about refugees
  2. To catalyze the next generation of storytellers and creators amongst displaced Syrians
  3. The film workshops allow kids to learn filmmaking fundamentals, get hands on experience, and have the time and space to tell their own and their peers’ stories.

Benefits of the Azraq Film School

  • Students learn techniques that will allow them to be creative leaders and build long-lasting skills.
  • Film projects require collaboration, group work, creativity, patience, trust, honesty and a sense of belonging — All psychosocial benefits and skills that can have a lasting, positive effect on each participant.

“The script was from imagination, but I based it on what I actually experienced in Syria personally,” says Afrah Khalid Kaid, a film school participant, “There’s both imagination plus personal  experience. This is not only part of my story, it’s part of everyone’s story in the camp.”

Since the film boot camps’ inception, ten fiction and documentary films have been fully cast, directed, and filmed by young Syrian refugees.

Disclaimer: the films below are completely owned by the Syrian youth film students of Azraq Film School who created them. While some of the films are fictional in genre, all of the films are deeply personal and close to the filmmakers’ hearts and real-life experiences. We ask that if you decide to screen, use, or share these videos that you respect their work, the time and dedication that they gave to the stories, and give credit to them as creators. 

The Films

Boot Camp 1:

Boot Camp 2:

History of CARE and Jordan

CARE has been active in Jordan since 1949, providing the people of Jordan, as well as Palestinian, Iraqi, and Syrian refugees, with assistance. Of CARE’s 152 staff members, 76 are solely dedicated to addressing the needs of refugees and host community members, led by the Director of the Urban Refugee Protection Program.

CARE in Jordan coordinates closely with UNHCR and other implementing agencies to collect/share information about services and for referrals. They rely on CARE to welcome needy beneficiaries at its community centres, seeing approximately 200 refugees every day, assessing their needs, and providing them with the best assistance for their specific vulnerabilities. A referral system is also in place so that agencies can pass vulnerable cases to CARE’s teams for urgent assistance. CARE continues to be the largest protection response actor in Jordan, reaching significantly more affected people than any other agency.

 

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