Abdisalan is a refugee in Dadaab, and the Team Leader for FilmAid’s refugee staff in the Ifo camp.
It was an interesting miracle for me to attend a high delegate planning meeting for FilmAid in Nairobi recently. I was the only refugee staff member to attend from Dadaab, and I was there to represent the views of all the refugee workers, and as much as possible all the refugee community in Dadaab. I felt courageous when my fellow staff members honored me by selecting me to represent them in the meeting.
Before I left I was anxious about the trip, although this was not my first time to travel outside of the camps. It was good to know I would be traveling together with other members from the FilmAid team in Dadaab, the Program Manager, Program Officer, the Admin and Finance Officer and the Security Officer.
It was a kind of exposure for me to travel by plane from Dadaab to Nairobi, as I had never been on a plane before. The plane took an hour and fifteen minutes to reach our destination. Regarding my flight experience, from an arial point of view all the objects on the ground looked very tiny and invisible, and the voices of the passengers turned hoarse. When we were about to land we felt the plane shake because it was raining very heavily in Nairobi.
From the airport we took a taxi to our destination, but this was after an hour of waiting for the taxi, and it took another hour to reach town because of the traffic – another thing we’re not used to in Dadaab.
I was accommodated at the Comfort Hotel, and as the name suggests it was really comfortable! One of the amazing things about the hotel was the price of the food and the quality, which again contrasted with my experience in Dadaab, where refugees spend one thousand shillings only every week or two.
On my second day in Nairobi the planning meeting began, and I was very much happy and impressed to meet with the senior management of FilmAid. I also had the chance to meet with my refugee colleague from the Kakuma refugee camp, who was also there to attend the meeting.
The meeting was held at the Tribe Hotel. The manager of the hotel, Mark Somen, is a member of the FilmAid Advisory Board and a good friend of mine who I have met in Dadaab, and he really welcomed us. I soon became confident again, with everybody hugging me and asking me questions about the security situation in Dadaab.
The meeting was fully participated in by all those who were there. I personally gained a lot of knowledge on the first day of the meeting. Among the many points discussed were management, communication, the vision and mission of FilmAid, SMART goals and areas where FilmAid operates.
It was a great opportunity for me to meet and interact with all of the FilmAid managers and get to know them and their responsibilities. I also came to fully know that I was a FilmAid manager too.
By the second day of the meeting I was happy, excited and motivated, seeing participants had appreciated my contributions to the discussion. One of the most unforgettable and interesting things was learning the FilmAid core values, such as creativity, diversity, excellence, integrity, joy, neutrality, partnership, and of course our unofficial value, ‘swagger’.
After the meeting was finished I had a couple of days in Nairobi to visit my friends and relatives in Eastleigh and my lecturer in East Africa Commerce and Development College where I am doing a diploma in public relations. It was exciting to see friends and they were hugely welcoming. Although I realized that the hygiene in Eastleigh is totally different from that of the town and South C, so I realized the city was not the same in terms of development.
Altogether the trip was extremely motivating for me, and it was a pleasure to meet with such welcoming and friendly managers. I learned that joy is one of our core values, and for me this was reflected in the experience I had. I would like to finish by saying to my colleagues that coming together is the beginning, keeping together is progress, but working together as a family is success. So let us work together to make our dreams come true and overcome the challenges faced by the refugee communities in Kakuma and Dadaab.
By Abdisalan Aw Aden