Giving a voice to refugees

Written by Muleskinner Staff


(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — I was able to go to an academic conference called “Uprooted—Refugees/Migrants/The Displaced” Oct. 10 and 11 in the Elliott Student Union.

At the conference, they spoke about different international programs all around the world. The speakers made great points to help make this world a better place to live.

I went to a panel about a program called FilmAid. UCM professors Wendy Geiger and Hillary Pennell spoke at the panel. FilmAid is about helping refugees become more independent. It helps give them key necessities for life like food, medicine and shelter.

The program started in 1999 and reaches over 250,000 people all over the world. Seven countries have this program. The program is to give hope to people to help save their lives. FilmAid creates media content, engages refugees’ skill development and puts on film festivals.

At the panel, I learned that there are 21.3 million refugees in the world, and 58 percent of them are under the age of 18. These people have nowhere to live, but some people take in refugees and give them a place to stay. Kids and parents may be taken away from each other. FilmAid helps find a place to make them feel like they have a purpose in life.

More than 3,000 refugees have been killed or injured. They are people facing pain and prejudice. Some are poverty-stricken and have many children to care for. Many are weeping and mourning the people who are dead in their family. Of the 571,352 refugees and homeless people, 85 percent are women and children. The refugees look at the media as a main source of information.

Before they were involved in FilmAid, the refugees in this program were in migration and traveled with parts of family. FilmAid provided a voice to the refugees. There is a magazine some refugees created for the other refugees to read. With FilmAid, the refugees report their emotional responses about the lost and injured people in their families in documentaries and magazines.

Pennell said this program offers vicarious experience through social models, social persuasion, emergency legal issues, physical and mental health, psychotherapy and social support.

Annemarie Carrigan is a THRIVE intern reporting for the Muleskinner. THRIVE is a two-year program to help intellectually- or developmentally-challenged young adults build skills for transitioning from home to independence.