Ismail Abdalla is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo living in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. He is one of the co-founders of $BEACH partner Faulu Productions, a non-profit community-based organization operating in the camp. Faulu Productions have four pillars of work: Education, Empowerment, Agriculture and Permaculture, and the Environment. Our Director of Partnerships Rob caught up with him here:
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself, Ismail.
I was born in the year 1991 October at Kalemie city in the Tanganyika Province (Northern Katanga) In The DRCongo. I am married to Noella Kajibwami and we recently had a baby boy! I strongly believe in equality, justice, freedom of speech, democracy, fairness and climate change.
Q. What has your partnership with the Beach Collective enabled you to do?
I realised we needed to take better care of our oceans and beaches in 2017. The partnership with the Beach Collective has enabled us to clean parts of Kakuma refugee camp with particular attention on the plastic pollution which is very bad in the camp. Moreover, it has also enabled us to forge and create more links with other organizations advocating for climate change.
Q. How did you arrive in Kakuma Refugee Camp?
More broadly I ended up in Kakuma refugee camp because of the insecurity and poor governance of my country the DRCongo. Specifically I was targeted because I was due to inherit a chiefdom and the land in my village, and this led a rival tribe to target me and subject me to persecution and torture. Since my life was in threat I decided to flee my country in 2010.
Q. What is life like in a refugee camp?
Life in a refugee camp is full of challenges due to lack of liberty and freedom, a lack of civil rights and a lack of permanent shelter, all of which full nationals benefit from. However there are many opportunities to address the above challenges. For instance, I and other individuals founded Faulu Productions in order to address the above challenges and in one way or another we have addressed many of them and we are looking forward to addressing more.
Q. If you could leave the refugee camp, where would you like to live?
If I happen to leave the refugee camp I would wish to live in a place where there is freedom of speech, democracy and the freedom to work and get paid like any other person. I would like to live a productive life. I have been living in the refugee camp for too long, wasting my youthful years without any future prospects. Thus resettlement to a new country would be best for me.
Q. How aware of climate change is the average person in your country?
We actually did a small survey about this a year ago and we found that only two people out of ten are aware of climate change. In order to raise awareness of climate change here in the camp I can recommend we do the following:
a) conducting training and seminars among various groups/societies
b) community mobilization for youths, women etc.
c) organizing football tournament (sports) with the aim of educating the community about climate change
d) offering videos and films about climate change to the public
e) organizing school sessions at primary and secondary schools
f) making adverts on local radios and TV stations
But it’s not only a question of raising awareness. We also need better infrastructure. For example there is no recycling facility in Kakuma Refugee Camp. It takes around 500 km to reach the recycling facility center in Eldoret.
Q. How do people react when they see you cleaning the camp?
Most people are amazed when they see us cleaning the camp. Coastal and river cleans improve the environment for fish and this raises living standards for people who rely on fishing. In addition when we organise cleanups in the refugee camp we make the camp a nicer place to live. People want to see a clean environment free from plastic population, healthy fish and animal populations and a stable climate. But people also need stable livelihoods.
Q. If you had $10,000 of investment what would you do?
Many things. Apart from everything on the list above we would love to expand the cleanups to new areas in the camp and beyond. We could also renovate or construct a room where the seminars, training and other events could take place.
Finally we would love to have a recycling recycling machine of our own so we have a way to process the plastic we gather. But the machine is expensive.
Q. Where would you like to go next with the partnership?
I would love this partnership to continue to grow to the next level until we can achieve behavior change at scale to stop people from polluting the beaches with plastics and harmful substances. For that reason, I would like the partnership to continue as long as needed until this mission is achieved. Finally, I would like other partners like the Beach Collective to work with Faulu Productions to allow it to expand its missions regionally and globally.
If you would like to support or partner with Faulu Productions, you can reach Ismail at email@example.com