Mapendo International has today announced that it is changing its name to RefugePoint in order to better reflect its core mission of protecting the world’s most vulnerable and forgotten refugees.
If you saw our film The Last Survivor, then you are probably familiar with Mapendo International. Mapendo was also founded by Sasha Chanoff, who helped resettle Justin Semahoro in St. Louis in the film (see video below). Now called RefugePoint, their rescue resettlement efforts, health clinic, and advocacy campaigns will continue to address the needs of the most vulnerable refugees in Africa, ensuring that forgotten victims of persecution, massacre and atrocities are brought from danger to safety.
According to Sasha Chanoff, RefugePoint’s executive director, many refugees have related to their staff that contact with his organization became the turning point in their lives. “Our effort,” he says, “is to provide lasting solutions for people fleeing from persecution, war, and genocide. The new name, RefugePoint, reflects the moment when those most at risk see the possibility of deliverance from lives of fear and desperation and a path opening up toward new lives for themselves and their families.”
Many of the world’s 10.4 million refugees exist in life-threatening situations. While some languish in overcrowded refugee camps, an increasing number flee to urban slum areas where they struggle to survive without even the barest of safety nets. In Africa they come from the Congo, Darfur, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somalia, Southern Sudan, Zimbabwe, and other countries and regions. The international community can barely shelter and feed the majority, much less tend to the unique needs of those who are truly forsaken and forgotten. “RefugePoint’s entire effort,” Chanoff says, “is to reach and succor these people whose struggle to survive would otherwise go unaddressed.
In the past six years RefugePoint has provided life-saving interventions and helped to create lasting solutions for over 20,000 refugees in Africa. RefugePoint staff have worked in Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. RefugePoint works with national governments, the UN Refugee Agency and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to enhance and improve systems to address the needs of vulnerable refugees in Africa and worldwide.
Visit their new site at www.refugepoint.org
We are proud to announce that The Last Survivor is now Available on SnagFilms!
Did you know that June 20th is World Refugee Day? We hope that you will join us in recognizing this day by watching The Last Survivor with your friends and family. As you may know, the documentary follows four survivors of genocide and mass atrocities – Congo, Darfur, Rwanda, and the Holocaust – as they rebuild their lives and become advocates for change. This brilliant, moving and highly entertaining documentary is a great way to not only learn more about these atrocities and genocide prevention efforts, but also really understand the life of a refugee through these incredible stories. Prepare to be inspired.
Please help us increase awareness and engage people across the country to stop genocide. Here is how:
Watch The Last Survivor for free now! Don’t forget to hit “like” and give it a 5 star rating. Then share it with your friends and followers on all of your networks. Here are some suggested status updates:
Commemorate #worldrefugeeday by watching The Last Survivor with your friends and family http://bit.ly/kzpfdl
Support #worldrefugeeday on June 20th by getting to know refugees in your communityhttp://bit.ly/kWooGg
What are you doing to support #worldrefugeeday? Here are some suggestions! http://bit.ly/kWooGg
You can even grab the widget to put on your blog or website.
Check out the short interview with the film’sdirectors. Want to interview them yourselves? Email Alexandra@righteouspictures.com. They will take the first 10 requests! If you need pictures for your blog post, just visit our Flickr page.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTORS MICHAEL PERTNOY AND MICHAEL KLEIMAN
As every film takes on a life and journey of its own-did this end up being the film you ‘intended’ to make? If it did change along the way, in what regard?
When the film was first conceived, the idea was to make a documentary about the current lives of Holocaust Survivors – their struggles today, their ability to rebuild their lives after the trauma they suffered, and their hopes for the future of our world. That film was set to focus on a reunion of Survivors called Cafe Europa that occurs in cities all over the world. Several times a years, Survivors in New York, Miami, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and other major cities across the globe, come together at banquets to dance, to reconnect with friends, to seek out lost relatives and loved ones, and celebrate the lives they still have. It was during preliminary research on the documentary then titled Cafe Europa that we learned of a woman in Stockholm named Hédi Fried, who in 1984 started a social therapy group for her community of Survivors (called Cafe 84). The unique model called for a weekly gathering of Survivors, uniting to talk, to play, to sing and dance, in short to live. After working in her own community, Hédi, herself a committed activist, began working with other communities of Survivors – from Bosnia, from Rwanda and Darfur – helping them transcend the horrors they faced. And so in many ways it was Hédi who made us realize that to accomplish our goals of making a film about genocide that was forward thinking, we would need to consider not only the Holocaust, but subsequent tragedies and the vow of Never Again that the world has broken over and over in the 65 years since the Holocaust was finally brought to an end. It was that realization that birthed The Last Survivor and the rest was history.
Both of you had personal interests in the subject matter prior to filming. What were you most surprised to learn during this process?
What surprised us most was the realization that the process of genocide is a rather predictable one. When you look at the formation of the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda, and that in Darfur side by side, there are undeniable similarities in terms of how each tragedy evolved. When we realized this fact, we both became strong supporters of the idea of Genocide Prevention – a recognition of this fact that insists the best way to prevent future genocides is to intervene during early stages before the violence ever reaches the scale that we see now in places like Darfur and Congo. One of our goals in presenting these four stories in the context of the same film was to highlight those similarities and allow the audience to realize, as we did, that Genocide is a crime that can be stopped before it truly begins. A fact that is often lost when you look at each incident in isolation.
If you had to boil it down to one thing, what is it you hope viewers take away from this film?
We hope that viewers come away from The Last Survivor with a deeper understanding for the crime of genocide but even further we hope that the stories of these remarkable individuals inspire viewers to do something with that new knowledge – to act when they recognize injustice in the world, whether they are in their own country or seemingly worlds away. We hope that the film helps viewers recognize the common bonds of humanity that unite all of us – the very commonalities that require us to fight for others, to speak for them and stand up for them when they cannot do so for themselves. And above all else, we hope audiences will leave feeling energized that they can personally make a difference because there are infinite ways to get involved; there is no singular form of activism. Right now we are working with a coalition of partners to host events on and around World Refugee Day (June 20th) with the goal of connecting refugees and non-refugees in the U.S. Each event will be unique to the people involved and we hope that everyone can learn from each other’s experiences, and then together become a stronger force against genocide.
What about this film are you most proud of?
From very early on, our goal was to make a film about genocide that was at its core a hopeful one. That’s not a very easy combination. In watching the film, one is left with a sense of possibility – that although we as a global society have committed unspeakable acts against one another, by believing we can do better and then actively working to make that belief a reality, we can all move forward. In short, after watching the film, one is left, with a sense of hope. That is the aspect of this film that we are most proud of.
Blog also posted on snagfilms.com
I spent the last two days at one of the best conferences I have attended to date, the Personal Democracy Forum. The talks were inspiring, the speakers were brilliant and the attendees were some of the most creative, talented and motivated people I have met. But I think what really made this conference memorable for me was Jim Gilliam’s talk about the Internet and his religion – and the internet being his religion. Any further description I write will not do it justice, so I encourage you to just watch it and share.