My experience filming for OCHA’s Global Humanitarian Day Campaign
By Dâna Barakat, student at Columbia University
In an attempt to get some preliminary research done for my thesis, which looks at the challenges faced by street children in Lebanon, I decided to spend a few weeks there this past summer.
As soon as I arrived, I read an email that was going to change my summer. It was from David, a Public Information Officer at the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), asking me if I was interested in producing a short film for their global humanitarian day campaign. I had met David only a day earlier, through a wonderful adjunct Professor at CU, and he decided to give me a shot at this great opportunity. OCHA was looking to showcase 5 humanitarian workers from around the world who are making a significant difference in their respective communities.
After meeting with aid workers from orphanages and NGOs all over the country, I recommended Mr. John Eter who runs Home of Hope, the only organization in Lebanon that will take in non-Lebanese street children and give them a home. The small organization, which once had over 80 street children living on the premises, was forced to downsize following serious budget cuts. Yet, John refuses to close shop despite the fact that he barely has enough money to feed one small family. He takes in food, clothing and school supply donations, in addition to private contributions that he manages to find.
OCHA loved John’s story and immediately agreed to use him as part of their
campaign. As soon as I got over my excitement, I realized I had to find
equipment and a crew willing to help me for free. I quickly discovered how wonderfully hospitable the people in Lebanon are. I found a small crew that agreed to bring whatever equipment they could borrow and we spent one full day filming at Home of Hope.
OCHA was thrilled with the film and used it as part of their global campaign. After I sent the film to John, he told me that the Ministry of Social Affairs was going to use the exposure from the campaign to try and garner more financial support for Home of Hope.
Producing this piece was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had
and I’m honored I was a part of it. As an aspiring filmmaker, I hope to produce feature length documentaries in the future.
I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed producing it.
Dâna is a second year Human Rights Masters Student at Columbia University and an aspiring filmmaker.