Help me wish Fidel Wabenga a happy belated birthday.

Happy belated birthday to you FIDEL STMP.

I remember the first time i met you in Kakuma, who would have thought you would at this day be the Producer of Season of the Time, and who would have thought you’d be this wonderful friend and best teacher to the many kids in Kakuma?

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Fidel at the front door of Season of the Time Studio

I remember that day, when i had just finished working and walking home and the first thing i heard from my friends was that the only place we used to do rehearsals was now a no man’s land to be distributed to new arrivals, i was shocked because there was no place as nice and quiet and with a refreshing shade as the one we had just lost but because i was tired and it was already late, i decided to go home and sleep.

The following morning of October 2013, as soon as the sun rose i was outside checking out who just invaded our kingdom and i was welcomed by these smily people talking to me and apologising for being taking over our place, at first i was not only surprised because nobody really apologises for something they are not responsible of doing, but also because i wasn’t sure how they found out who i was. Then from a corner came Fidel, he was younger then and he said hello.

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Fidel 2013

He was younger then, but somehow the way his family was speaking with me i felt like they were really good people, and i was happy to have new people and hoped we would become friends sooner. I left not long later as i had to get ready for work, i mean to go and open the studio.

Around December 2013 that year, as i was planning to recruit new members, i walked towards the new arrival area trying to let them know about my project and ask if they knew of any kids with skills in acting that would want to join our program, that same day i got about 10 kids for the families of the just arrived and later Fidel came to see me and asked if he could join the program, i told him it was only for the children younger than 15 years of age, i saw the look on his face, he was disappointed.

As the new recruits arrived and the program started in late January 2014, i was out of members and people to assist when on the field, so i spoke with Fidel and asked him if he would instead take the role to of helping with the light and carrying equipments when i am out filming or photographing weddings and that, he didn’t wait to hear me finish talking and his answer was a big YES.

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Me with the just arrived boys with Fidel on the right.

I never trained Fidel more than just computer skills, but then i was supposed to leave the camp and go to live in Australia where i was offered a Visa, at that stage i didn’t want to sell the studio because i had many kids who depended on the programs we offered, and more worst i did not have anybody to hand the studio to, anybody more trustworthy and responsible to make sure the studio and the kids are well taken cared of. And when i looked around, Fidel was the only person i hanged out with since started working together, we even played Basketball together and went to the local Gym together.

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With kids during a short film production (RIP Return If Possible)

After speaking with the kids, we all agreed that Fidel was the right choice and so i offered Fidel an advanced course and giving a good understanding of the studio, our work ethic and code of conducts, also showing him to the kids and let them work together.

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From left Kito, Olivier and Viki.

At that stage, Olivier and Kito were my best students and had just completed their film course and now working hand in hand with me and Fidel in the Studio, i encouraged them to work with Fidel and help him out with anything he would need when i am gone, they were very sad that i was actually leaving, and i was just as sad considering all the time and things i did with these kids and just how they were so used to me, i hoped Fidel will be just as cool with them as i was and probably more to comfort their emotion.

I left Kenya in November 2015 and Fidel has been way better with the kids and i enjoy see them having a good time together, they organise all sorts of activities together from fun activities to the program annual anniversary and exhibitions and the go out film weddings and make short films and take some good photos of the camp and i couldn’t be more proud of Fidel and the kids with what they’ve achieved so far and what they will achieving for the time they are in Kakuma, i appreciate the commitment and hard work shown by Fidel and the kids especially Olivier and Kito who continue to persevere and even now training other kids as a way to give back to the program.

At this stage, i consider Fidel not a the kid that took our place for practice but as my young brother, each and every member of Season of the Time is my brother and sister and that’s why we were nicknamed Brotherhood by many people in Kakuma.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU MY YOUNG BROTHER FIDEL

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Fidel in 2018 at the STMP Annual Exhibition.

I hope this year brings you more knowledge to share and more success in everything you do and hope someday we meet again talk about our experiences in Kakuma over a big table meal.

I was a pleasure knowing you brother.

 

From a bother to a brother

 

By Batakane Jean-Michel

Special thanks to special people

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Every year, for 7 years Season of the TIME Media Productions-STMPs  recruits young people around the refugee camp and offers them courses in Film and Photography, then every end of the year organises film exhibitions to showcase the work accomplished by the graduates each year, the films are mainly educative, inspirational and a comedy. Each student is required to produce a film and manage the pre, pro and post-production with the help of their facilitators. This year we showcased 7 films from our STMP graduates and about 17 students between 12-18 years of age, we also showcased 2 films from the former students.

More photos:

Special Thanks to everyone working so hard to see these young ones successful, be blessed:

Sylvain King ML
Fidele Wabenga
Esperanza Tab Bahavu
Olivier Kasole
Kito Zihindula
Sally Lincoln
Scott Poulter
Liz Arcus
Thanks to everyone else!

Meet the Teenagers Who Started a Film Production Studio in Their Refugee Camp

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The young boy cradles his head, emitting a low moan as blood drips through his fingers and soaks the soil beneath him. His friend, wearing a bright yellow “Pediatric Dental Group of Colorado” t-shirt, uneasily makes his way through the shrub to examine the injury he has caused. Upon seeing the blood, he gasps theatrically and stumbles backwards. Frightened, he tucks a slingshot into his trousers and runs away.

“Cut!”

Throwing his arms in the air in exasperation, a lanky 20-year-old yells out, and everything stops. Fidele is directing this film, and he isn’t happy. He wants more emotion from his cast, more feeling.

Regan, the 12-year-old boy with the bleeding head, gets up from the floor and wipes some of the sticky red liquid from his cheek, a smile spreading across his face. The kid in the yellow t-shirt, Pasyan, 11, saunters back into the shade beneath the trees. They watch as Fidele re-enacts the scene, crouching down, holding his head, moaning dramatically, showing them how it’s done. The boys nod, concentrating intently on their director’s instructions.

All of the kids in the film’s cast and crew live in a remote refugee camp in Northern Kenya. They are waiting, along with 185,000 others, to be resettled in the U.S., Australia, Canada or Europe, or for peace and security to return to their respective counties so that they can go home.

Kakuma Refugee Camp has been here since 1991. That year, thousands of youngsters who later came to be known as the Lost Boys of Sudan escaped over the border from South Sudan, leaving behind years of brutal civil war. The ones who survived built what they thought would be temporary shelters. Twenty-five years later, some of them are still here, joined by legions of others fleeing violence, unrest and repression in countries around the region.

The camp, a sprawling collection of tents and crumbling mud and corrugated iron huts, is not an easy place to live. During the day, temperatures soar. Gusts of wind kick up the fine dust which billows in the air and deposits itself on everything. There is little to do. In the morning, most kids cram into airless classrooms with up to 200 other children. After school, some help their families by going to fetch water or firewood. Mostly, children idle away their time, hanging out in the narrow alleyways between huts, finding creative ways to play with whatever they get their hands on. Some have never known life outside the camp; many will wait years or even decades to be resettled.

In 2011, a 19-year-old Congolese refugee named Jean Michelle Batakane returned to the camp after studying at the East African Media Institute in Nairobi. Batakane was determined to put his new skills to use, and provide something for the kids living in the camp.

“I moved back after realizing that a multitude of people like myself were anxious to learn,” says Batakane, “and that I could do my part by sharing my knowledge.”

He also saw an opportunity to “bring together refugee brothers and sisters from different parts of the camp,” ensuring his program included kids from different countries — Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda — and religious backgrounds.

Using his pocket money, a small camcorder and a laptop he was given as a gift, Batakane started Season of the Times Media Productions, running yearlong courses for children who wanted to learn about film production.

Tucked behind a small Congolese café inside the camp, STMP’s office is a tiny, unassuming room. A piece of paper hanging on the outside wall reads: “Notice! Notice! Notice! STMP Studio. Kick out boredom, idleness and cluelessness. Get busy and know more on what’s popping in the outside world.”

Inside, kids take turns using a computer with a broken screen, teaching themselves how to use programs like Photoshop and music production software Fruity Loops. The power cuts out frequently, but when it does they sit and wait, knowing that sooner or later it will start up again. Then, they go out around the camp and make their own films and music videos.

As STMP’s assistant cameraman, 15-year-old Kito is no stranger to the stop-and-start pace of film production. He has been with STMP since 2013, when a friend connected him to Batakane. Kito arrived in Kakuma five years ago, after his family fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Taking minibus after minibus, they made their way through the green, rolling hills of Uganda, over the Kenyan border, and towards the sweltering landscape here in northern Kenya.

“When I first arrived I used to stay at home from morning until evening,” recalls Kito. “I was so bored.” But then Kito heard about STMP and started developing his skills as a camera operator.

In addition to making movies and music videos, Kito and the other children earn a little money by filming weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations for camp residents who have no other way to immortalize previous memories. They charge around $10 an hour, and shoots can go on for about six or seven hours. Fifty percent of the proceeds are put aside to fund STMP’s productions, while the remaining half is shared among the crewmembers.

“At the end, the amount of money we get is very small for the work we do. It is just pocket money to buy basic things,” says Fidele. “But we do it to help the communities.”

In December, children sign up for the yearlong course led by Fidele. Three times a week, under the shade of acacia trees, the older kids — Fidele, Kito and 17-year-old cameraman Olivier — take turns teaching film and music skills to younger children. For them, it is a way of giving back what they were taught by Batakane, who after eight years in the camp resettled in Australia last year.

“He showed me that I can do whatever I want in my life,” explains Olivier, who says he always wanted to be a filmmaker. “Now I try to help some other kids so they can be even better than me.”

Throughout the year, the kids learn to use a computer, shoot and edit short movies, and produce music. At the end of the course children pair off and produce their own movies, and the older kids name one as the best of the year.

Most of the children have never held a camera in their hand or used a computer before joining STMP, but many now dream of becoming editors, scriptwriters and producers.

“My new goal when I grow up is to be a music producer,” says Kito, who is now trying his hand at making beats. “Wherever I go — if I go to America, Australia — I know I will be a music producer. I will do it.”

When Batakane moved to Australia, the skills he learned in Kenya helped him quickly build a new life: he now runs his own photography company, works in local radio, and continues to support STMP by organizing fundraisers. He says that once he’s able to land a higher paying job, he plans to help the kids at STMP get a better camera.

Angelina, 10, Leticia, 14, and Linelle, 5, apply makeup before “A Season of the Time” film shoot.

Back on set, Fidele and Paluku, a 14-year-old scriptwriter, carry a bag full of clothes — old shirts, hats and frilly dresses — to use as costumes. Ten-year-old Angelina, in a blue-and-white gingham dress, gets out her tools: a little mirror, a powder and eye shadow palette, a stick of lipstick and an eye pencil. She diligently lays them out on the floor, as her fellow makeup artist Leticia, also 14, preps beside her. Olivier and Kito check that batteries are charged and the camcorder is working. It stops a few times, but a little knock brings it back to life.

Followed by several curious children, STMP’s cast and crew of ten walk through the narrow, dusty alleyways between huts, and into a small wooded area by the usually dry riverbed, which overnight had filled up with rain water. They set up their tripod, the actors change into costume, and Fidele gives last-minute advice.

Linelle, a five-year-old actress and the youngest STMP member, guards the area around set, stopping curious children from getting too close, and shouting at them when they got too loud.

There is no time for playing around. STMP is at work.

 

Thank you for the article

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About us

The young boy cradles his head, emitting a low moan as blood drips through his fingers and soaks the soil beneath him. His friend, wearing a bright yellow “Pediatric Dental Group of Colorado” t-shirt, uneasily makes his way through the shrub to examine the injury he has caused. Upon seeing the blood, he gasps theatrically and stumbles backwards. Frightened, he tucks a slingshot into his trousers and runs away.

“Cut!”

Throwing his arms in the air in exasperation, a lanky 20-year-old yells out, and everything stops. Fidele is directing this film, and he isn’t happy. He wants more emotion from his cast, more feeling.

Regan, the 12-year-old boy with the bleeding head, gets up from the floor and wipes some of the sticky red liquid from his cheek, a smile spreading across his face. The kid in the yellow t-shirt, Pasyan, 11, saunters back into the shade beneath the trees. They watch as Fidele re-enacts the scene, crouching down, holding his head, moaning dramatically, showing them how it’s done. The boys nod, concentrating intently on their director’s instructions.

All of the kids in the film’s cast and crew live in a remote refugee camp in Northern Kenya. They are waiting, along with 185,000 others, to be resettled in the U.S., Australia, Canada or Europe, or for peace and security to return to their respective counties so that they can go home.

Kakuma Refugee Camp has been here since 1991. That year, thousands of youngsters who later came to be known as the Lost Boys of Sudan escaped over the border from South Sudan, leaving behind years of brutal civil war. The ones who survived built what they thought would be temporary shelters. Twenty-five years later, some of them are still here, joined by legions of others fleeing violence, unrest and repression in countries around the region.

The camp, a sprawling collection of tents and crumbling mud and corrugated iron huts, is not an easy place to live. During the day, temperatures soar. Gusts of wind kick up the fine dust which billows in the air and deposits itself on everything. There is little to do. In the morning, most kids cram into airless classrooms with up to 200 other children. After school, some help their families by going to fetch water or firewood. Mostly, children idle away their time, hanging out in the narrow alleyways between huts, finding creative ways to play with whatever they get their hands on. Some have never known life outside the camp; many will wait years or even decades to be resettled.

In 2011, a 19-year-old Congolese refugee named Jean Michelle Batakane returned to the camp after studying at the East African Media Institute in Nairobi. Batakane was determined to put his new skills to use, and provide something for the kids living in the camp.

“I moved back after realizing that a multitude of people like myself were anxious to learn,” says Batakane, “and that I could do my part by sharing my knowledge.”

He also saw an opportunity to “bring together refugee brothers and sisters from different parts of the camp,” ensuring his program included kids from different countries — Congo, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda — and religious backgrounds.

Using his pocket money, a small camcorder and a laptop he was given as a gift, Batakane started Season of the Times Media Productions, running yearlong courses for children who wanted to learn about film production.

Tucked behind a small Congolese café inside the camp, STMP’s office is a tiny, unassuming room. A piece of paper hanging on the outside wall reads: “Notice! Notice! Notice! STMP Studio. Kick out boredom, idleness and cluelessness. Get busy and know more on what’s popping in the outside world.”

Inside, kids take turns using a computer with a broken screen, teaching themselves how to use programs like Photoshop and music production software Fruity Loops. The power cuts out frequently, but when it does they sit and wait, knowing that sooner or later it will start up again. Then, they go out around the camp and make their own films and music videos.

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As STMP’s assistant cameraman, 15-year-old Kito is no stranger to the stop-and-start pace of film production. He has been with STMP since 2013, when a friend connected him to Batakane. Kito arrived in Kakuma five years ago, after his family fled violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Taking minibus after minibus, they made their way through the green, rolling hills of Uganda, over the Kenyan border, and towards the sweltering landscape here in northern Kenya.

“When I first arrived I used to stay at home from morning until evening,” recalls Kito. “I was so bored.” But then Kito heard about STMP and started developing his skills as a camera operator.

In addition to making movies and music videos, Kito and the other children earn a little money by filming weddings, birthday parties and other celebrations for camp residents who have no other way to immortalize previous memories. They charge around $10 an hour, and shoots can go on for about six or seven hours. Fifty percent of the proceeds are put aside to fund STMP’s productions, while the remaining half is shared among the crewmembers.

“At the end, the amount of money we get is very small for the work we do. It is just pocket money to buy basic things,” says Fidele. “But we do it to help the communities.”

In December, children sign up for the yearlong course led by Fidele. Three times a week, under the shade of acacia trees, the older kids — Fidele, Kito and 17-year-old cameraman Olivier — take turns teaching film and music skills to younger children. For them, it is a way of giving back what they were taught by Batakane, who after eight years in the camp resettled in Australia last year.

“He showed me that I can do whatever I want in my life,” explains Olivier, who says he always wanted to be a filmmaker. “Now I try to help some other kids so they can be even better than me.”

Throughout the year, the kids learn to use a computer, shoot and edit short movies, and produce music. At the end of the course children pair off and produce their own movies, and the older kids name one as the best of the year.

Most of the children have never held a camera in their hand or used a computer before joining STMP, but many now dream of becoming editors, scriptwriters and producers.

“My new goal when I grow up is to be a music producer,” says Kito, who is now trying his hand at making beats. “Wherever I go — if I go to America, Australia — I know I will be a music producer. I will do it.”

When Batakane moved to Australia, the skills he learned in Kenya helped him quickly build a new life: he now runs his own photography company, works in local radio, and continues to support STMP by organizing fundraisers. He says that once he’s able to land a higher paying job, he plans to help the kids at STMP get a better camera.

Angelina, 10, Leticia, 14, and Linelle, 5, apply makeup before “A Season of the Time” film shoot.

Back on set, Fidele and Paluku, a 14-year-old scriptwriter, carry a bag full of clothes — old shirts, hats and frilly dresses — to use as costumes. Ten-year-old Angelina, in a blue-and-white gingham dress, gets out her tools: a little mirror, a powder and eye shadow palette, a stick of lipstick and an eye pencil. She diligently lays them out on the floor, as her fellow makeup artist Leticia, also 14, preps beside her. Olivier and Kito check that batteries are charged and the camcorder is working. It stops a few times, but a little knock brings it back to life.

Followed by several curious children, STMP’s cast and crew of ten walk through the narrow, dusty alleyways between huts, and into a small wooded area by the usually dry riverbed, which overnight had filled up with rain water. They set up their tripod, the actors change into costume, and Fidele gives last-minute advice.

Linelle, a five-year-old actress and the youngest STMP member, guards the area around set, stopping curious children from getting too close, and shouting at them when they got too loud.

There is no time for playing around. STMP is at work.