The documentaries in Stories of Hope focus on the harsh realities of refugees and those in conflict zones and the resilience, positivity and courage of many as they rebuild their lives after great loss.
The devastation wreaked by war and occupation can be unimaginable. The documentaries in Stories of Hope show the indomitable will of people to survive and thrive even in the worst situations and after losing everything. These documentaries show the terrible toll of war and extremely harsh realities of refugees and those whose lives have been ravaged by conflict. In the face of such circumstances many still face the future with resilience, positivity and courage, with dreams of a brighter future for themselves and their children as they rebuild their lives.
Gaza, Stories of Hope gives us a glimpse into the lives of children in Gaza who lost their fathers in the 2014 conflict, and who are in the UNRWA’s ‘vulnerable’ category. They talk about how their lives have changed, how their fathers’ presence is missed, and what their hopes for the future are. The everyday struggles of dealing with illness, disability and house repairs in straitened circumstances highlight the vital importance of charity work to support the most vulnerable.
Al Nour Centre Gaza focuses on children attending the Al Nour Centre school for the blind in Gaza. The 2014 conflict had a devastating effect on the lives of children in Gaza. Many of the children suffer from visual impairment as a result of this War. The school, in partnership with UNWRA, gives hope to blind and partially sighted children, giving them the prospect of full integration into the community.
In Palestine – The Power of Positivity, three young Palestinian refugee women supported by the Shawna Clarke Scholarship for Palestinian refugee women talk about their studies and dreams for the future. Dina is from Jenin and is a biology and biotechnology student at the Arab American University and dreams of making a big impact in her field. Rasha is from Far’a Camp near Tubas in the Northern West Bank. She is a physics student at Al Najah University and dreams of eventually working for Nasa. Ghaida’ lives with her parents and five siblings in Al Ayn refugee camp in Nablus. She would like to be one of the first female Geography professors at An-Najah University.
“Maybe because we live in a refugee camp and the conditions are tough,” she says “and because we’ve been through really hard times in the camp, maybe the enormous pressure we faced was the main reason for us to start changing our goals and our lives.”
Alchemiya has a wide selection of films and documentaries about Palestine: , including The Present, about a father and daughter going shopping and the dystopian reality of everyday life under occupation, and Gaza Surf Club about catching waves in the conflict-ridden Gaza strip.
Syria, Stories of Hope tells the stories of ten-year-old Rayan, who lost her left leg in the ongoing conflict in Syria, Saifeddin, a young boy who lost a brother and sister in the same rocket attack that took his legs, and Fatima, who is part of a team of technicians making prosthetic limbs. “Before I came to this project, I was working in Syria as a teacher,” says Fatima. “I didn’t know anything about prosthetics before this, or the production of them. And I’d never seen an amputee before. But right now, you see it everywhere.” Discussing the difference the prosthetics can make, she says “It’s something beautiful that the patient can return to their daily activities without needing help.” Rayan says of her prosthetic “Having this changed my life. I’m much better. Now I tell myself I should work harder, so that I can do anything I want. For example, even if I have prosthetic legs, I have to study even harder to become a great engineer.”
Syria, The Power of Positivity speaks to Syrian refugees in Jordan about how their lives have changed and their plans for the future. Mohammad Jamous has a prosthetic leg, but finds football helps him to keep positive about his situation. “ I release my negative energy when I play soccer.” He explains. He is an assistant captain and helps the captain to coach the younger players. Ali, from Jordan, reflects on his close friendship with Abdullah, from Syria, who he considers to be like a brother. Mohammad, a Syrian boy based in the Jordanian town of Irbid has been supporting his family by working for the past three years, and has not been able to go to school. With support from UNICEF, Mohammad now goes to school and is very happy to be learning to read and write. Meanwhile, 14 year old Gamar, who became a child bride in the wake of the Syrian conflict, determines to give her daughter better opportunities than she was given.
Other documentaries about Syria include Wajd, which began in 2010 as a straightforward documentary about a sacred musical tradition in Syria. Interrupted by the devastation of war and the forced exile of the musicians, it became instead a masterpiece of compassion, which deepens our understanding of human reality and what enables us to bear it.