Children around the world are torn from their families when war, militant uprisings, or political violence invade their lives. Too often young girls are left alone, kidnapped by guerrilla groups or militias, sometimes with unplanned children, and permanently separated from all they have ever known. The dream of returning to their homes is frequently not realistic. Through an incredible network of refugee support systems, such as Heshima-Kenya, they begin lives in new countries where they are encouraged to focus on creating a secure future.
“I’ll Tell You My Story” is a workshop developed by Spring Sutter, Zippy Kimundu and Emily Rieman to help refugee girls and young women address their situations through writing, photography and filmmaking. Our hope is that through artistic instruction and expression, girls will not only be exposed to skills that help them make good career choices, but that they will also begin to remember themselves as individuals with their own personalities, who have the right to dreams and memories that are their own, and not only a response to the traumas that have altered the course of their lives.
“I’ll Tell You My Story” strives to create a safe, supportive and educational environment that honors each participant for their individuality. The participants write short stories as they gain trust in the group. They learn photography skills and how to imagine their stories in both literal and abstract ways. Once these individual photo essays are developed, the group creates an idea for a short film. According to their own interests, the girls are assigned crew positions and spend a day filming. This provides the opportunity to delve more deeply into their own thoughts, while learning to work as a productive group in a new community. We hope it helps them take an important step from survival mode towards a life that they feel is of their own creation.
Our guest speakers have included Aida Mbowa, Emily Wanja, Nyawira Ivy and Hadijah Nankanja. They inspired the group with their own life stories, emphasizing the value of each person’s voice in the world. We believe this helped them reconnect to themselves and realize their value in the world, as the beautiful individuals that they are. We also believe that their stories will inspire you.