A younger Nathan Collett circa 2007 in Somalia, on far right Fatima Jibrell founder Horn Relief

Why am I involved in Somalia? I’m an American-Australia Dual-Citizen. Why do I care?

In my work as a filmmaker, I’ve had contacts with the Somali community dating back to before 2007, when I shot a short award-winning film in Northern Somalia called ‘Charcoal Traffic’. Charcoal Traffic dramatises the real life situation of environmental and cultural devastation in Somalia due to cutting trees for charcoal.  Charcoal production, along with climate change, has contributed to the current drought.

Over the years, I’ve been following the situation in Somalia, and concerned that every time the country tries to get on a solid footing there is outside intervention, war, and attacks such as the intervention by Ethiopian troops in 2006. Though Ethiopian troops left in 2009, there was a legacy of anger and destruction left in their path. Many of Somalia’s problems are self-created but have been dramatically made worse by involvement of other geo-political players. An African proverb says that ‘when the elephants fight, the ground suffers’… This is the case in Somalia. The people are suffering.

Collaboration with Somali filmmaker

For several years, myself and a Somali filmmaker of Dutch nationality, Ahmed Farah have been working on a film project about Somali refugees. Long before this crisis hit, Ahmed has been visiting, reporting, documenting in the refugee camps in Dadaab. Then when the crisis hit, we jointly felt we had to do something. And not just anything, but something to fill the gap which even large aid organizations are not addressing. That is, helping people before they get official help as they wait for days, even weeks, to be registered officially at the Dadaab refugee camps. Then they can get international help. But what happens before then? This gave birth to the Survival Backpacks project. To give interim help, as people travel often on foot, for over 60KM from the Kenyan border to the Dadaab refugee camp, and as they wait for support.

Awareness and direct support

As filmmakers we also are working to raise awareness of the issue from a Somali perspective. So we both give tangible help and raise awareness. This is happening in synergy with the distribution of the Survival Backpacks.  None of the costs of filming or transport are coming from Global Giving donations. That is being self-funded and through separate individual donations. At the moment we are producing a documentary ‘Dadaab: get there or die trying” and plan to show this widely in the Somali and international community. So far on July 27th 2011, the trailer of the doc was screened on Al Jazeera English’s The Stream and is on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QR_1G1yOEbA.

Hot Sun Foundation plans to continue raising awareness… but to not limit ourselves to that. People on the ground need help. We’ve seen their faces. We’ve experienced their suffering. We can’t just film. We need to bring real tangible help to change, and potentially, save lives of people suffering. All donations go directly to costs associated with the backpacks.  Please help us help the Somali refugees. To donate please visit here

Thank you for your consideration. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Nathan Collett