Friday July 19, 2019

Meet Khaldiya Jibawi: Her Journey from the Refugee Camp to her Movie Screening

Jibawi is one of the 80,000 refugees who went through the repercussions of the Syrian war

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Poster of "Another Kind of Girl". Image source: anotherkindofgirl.com
  • The movie is a record of the mundane lives of people at the camps after the attacks in Syria
  • She wishes to continue her movie-making even after she gets married, which is an unusual dream for girls in camps
  • The girl is concerned for the youth of Syria as she looks at them as potential power-structures

“Another kind of girl”, a 9 minute movie by a refugee from the camps of Jordan, Khaldiya Jibawi, is an exemplifying marker from the people of no man’s land. This 19 year old girl is achieving heights with her documentary being put on view Sundance, SXSW, Cannes film festival and now the Los Angeles Film Festival.

The movie is a record of the mundane lives of people at the camps after the attacks in Syria. Her family left the native land to move to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan.

The girl shies away as she celebrated her 19th birthday in the camp. Fortunately, she is not one of those girls who are married at early ages. On being asked about her not being in the normal scenario of a “girl-life”, she was hesitant to admit that her not being a wife is just a matter of luck and she cannot think of being at the same place for a long period.

Jibawi is one of the 80,000 refugees who went through the repercussions of the Syrian war. However, she feels content being nearby her essential land. The documentary was successful to be made by a media workshop conducted by the nonprofit “WomenOne”, mutually with “Save the children international”. The workshop was an effort by the organizers to bring to the fore the stories of teenage girls from the camps, describing their life.

khaldiya jawibi
Film poster. Image source: “another kind of girl”

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It comes across as a conscious attempt at their part as putting forth the authentic perspective only has given the documentary such weight to reach the renowned film festivals.

In an interview discussing her personal and professional life, she is seen as still in the same mode of living the not so grand but happy life, absorbed in her daily tasks of watching T.V. and doing household chores. What makes her life so interesting is the fact that the essence of Syria is still not lost and one sees a realistic depiction of her world. She remarks how sometimes while revisiting her shooting, she was surprised to know of the things happening around her.

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She wishes to continue her movie-making even after she gets married, which is not a usual dream of girls inhabiting the camps. She left her studies after the Ninth standard under the burden of household responsibilities, with her mother starting working. She seems to be too unpredictable of her future but does long to return to Syria. The girl is concerned for the youth of Syria as she looks at them as potential power-structures who can turn the tables for the country and re-build it.

On being asked about her movie, she asks her audience to look at it as the life of a society way too different from theirs and further says,

“People have a certain perspective about the camps, and I want them not to underestimate people. People shouldn’t underestimate us because who knows what we can be capable of accomplishing.” (Translated from Arabic)

by Megha Sharma, a freelance contributor at NewsGram. Twitter: meghash06510344

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Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees at High Risk of Exploitation and Abuse

A survey by the International Organization for Migration finds Venezuelan migrants and refugees are at high risk

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Venezuelan, Migrants, Refugees
FILE - Venezuelan children sleep at the Binational Border Service Center in Tumbes, Peru, after a new migration law was imposed for all Venezuelan migrants to have valid visas and passports, June 15, 2019. VOA

A survey by the International Organization for Migration finds Venezuelan migrants and refugees are at high risk of exploitation and abuse.  More than 4,600 people were surveyed in five Caribbean and Central American countries between July and December 2018.

The survey provides a snapshot of the hardships encountered by a fraction of the four million people who have fled Venezuela’s political and economic crisis over the past few years.

One in five Venezuelans interviewed said they were forced to work under dire conditions without pay or were held against their will until they paid off a debt they incurred while escaping from Venezuela.

Rosilyn Borland is an IOM senior regional migrant protection and assistance specialist based in Costa Rica.  On a telephone line from the Costa Rican capital, San Jose, she tells VOA both men and women fall victim to traffickers who force them into abusive situations.

Venezuelan, Migrants, Refugees
FILE – A Venezuelan migrant rests outside the Ecuadorean migrations office at the Rumichaca International Bridge, in the border between Tulcan, Ecuador, and Ipiales, Colombia on August 20, 2018. VOA

“It is good to remember that these criminal networks, they focus on the vulnerabilities,” she said.  “So, those can be linked to your gender or they can be linked to other things.  So, often we see trafficking and exploitation of women linked to gender-based violence and inequalities that women face.  But also, men who are searching for a way to support their families… may also find themselves in situations of vulnerability.”

Borland says many migrants and refugees face discrimination while in transit or in destination countries.  She says massive flows of people often bring out the worst tendencies in host communities.

“Part of our reasons for asking these questions has to do with fighting against xenophobia and things that, unfortunately, sometimes happen when communities are hosting large numbers of people.  It is difficult.  It is a strain,” she said.

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Borland says it is important to regularize migrants in the host countries.   She says allowing migrants to work legally brings them out of the shadows so they can fight for their rights.  She says having legal status would make them less vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. (VOA)