18 April 2016
|“The people that I met in Dzaleka especially those that I interviewed, showed a lot of determination to make their lives mean more than just a word ‘refugee’. "|
Dzaleka, 18 April 2016 – As part of collecting material showcasing the work Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) does in providing education to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people, JRS Southern Africa received two visitors from the JRS International Office in Rome. This article, compiled by three community journalist volunteers in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi, gives us a brief glimpse into how we, at JRS, work with refugees and how, in all our efforts, we wish to include refugees in recognising their innate human dignity, whilst recognising and fostering their skills and talents. More importantly, it is a an introspective piece, giving insight into how the very people we serve and work with view the work we do and how we go about it, giving a voice to refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people.*
Denis Bosnic is one of the filmmakers who paid a visit to Dzaleka Refugee Camp. He started working with the JRS International Office in Rome fairly recently, at the end of February 2016. Before working for JRS, he was a freelance photographer working on the issues connected to marginalised communities. He collaborated with Italian media such as La Republica, Internazionale and L’Espresso group. He worked again for the Consiglio Italiano per i Rifugiati and for MSF visiting their projects and reporting on the people these organisations worked with.
Denis explains what the visit to the Southern Africa Region, Malawi in particular, aimed to achieve: “I visited Dzaleka Camp as part of the Mercy in Motion Campaign. The campaign‘s goal is to create awareness about refugees across the world, currently underrepresented in the media, since the focused on the refugee crisis in Europe.”
Denis goes on to explain: “The aim of is work is to try to restore the human dignity of refugees which is often overlooked and lost in the media coverage concerned only with negative aspects of refugee life.” He and Giulio Dercole, Communications Co-ordinator of the Mercy in Motion Campaign, intend on achieving this goal through powerful story-telling and narratives with the use of video and short documentary snippets.
The two explained: “With this project, Jesuit Refugee Service is trying to explain to its viewer that, refugees were not always refugees; they were ordinary people who had lives, often good and happy lives before having to flee. The Refugees don’t have a choice but to run a way.”
“The life of refugees cannot and must not be only described by talking about that one terrible thing that happened to them or just their journey, but also by pointing out that it consists of their past, as well as their hope and dreams for the future.” Giulio went on to say.
Refugees are skilled people who have not lost their capacities and talents along the way and deserve better opportunities. They are human beings like everyone else.
Denis believes that Dzaleka Camp is a rarity in the world. It is slowly becoming a cultural and economic centre of the whole area in which it is located.
This is heart-warming, since in many other camps in the world, refugees are not allowed, both formally and informally, to make a more permanent settlement and try to pursue or create opportunities for themselves.
“The people that I met in Dzaleka especially those that I interviewed, showed a lot of determination to make their lives mean more than just a word ‘refugee’. I didn’t see people who resigned themselves from their lives, and that in my opinion the most important thing. Yes, everybody becomes hopeless from time to time, but the people in the camp made me realize that giving up is simply not an option and one always has to push forward.” Denis says about the people he met in Dzaleka.
“I don’t presume to be an authority on refugee life, however as a refugee myself, when I was a child, I can say the following from my own and my family’s experience, always look for opportunities and don’t let anyone break your will. If you work hard, you can increase the chances of carving your own space in the world and reclaiming control of your own life.” says Patrick Mukendi Bituta, a youth worker facilitator at Dzaleka Refugee Camp.
· Note from JRS Southern Africa Region, Communication’s Officer, Gushwell Brooks
Story by: Robert Kabale Mbanda, Hugo Hivanove Mpenzi and Joseph Kabila Bahulule/Dzaleka Refugee Camp, Malawi
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