WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN THE DOCUMENTARY A CALL FROM WATER TANK 6, BUT IF YOU’RE WILLING TO READ FURTHER YOU’LL BE ABLE TO HELP A FAMILY TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE.
Beginning of this year we, Tove, Simon and Emmi, travelled to Uganda to film our graduate project for the documentary film course at the Red Cross Film School in Stockholm. We ended up in Palorinya, a hot and dusty area all the way in the northeast of the country. It is an area with a few small villages and barely enough resources to support the local community. It wasn’t ready to host over 1 million refugees from South Sudan. There were no shelters, no latrines, let alone enough water and food for so many people. But still the area became the home of over 1 million refugees from South Sudan who had to flee the country after civil war broke out in 2013.
On our first day there we met Lia Grace and her four children. There was something about her that struck us. She was powerful, graceful, loving and helpful, despite everything she had gone through. We knew directly she would be the focus of our documentary A Call From Water Tank 6. We started following Lia Grace and her children while they settled down in the camp. We listened to Grace’s story, we saw how she tried to make their lives as comfortable as possible while at the same time she struggled with the memories of home. A home that was good. A life that was good: with multiple jobs, multiple apartments and enough money to guarantee her children a good life. A home she has lost forever. A life that will be hard for her to regain again from the situation she is in now.
She had to leave everything behind on the day she was falsely accused of helping the rebels forces that fight against the government. She was no longer safe and was forced to flee. For seven months she lived in hiding, without her children, without knowing what the future would bring. Eventually she made it to Palorinya. In the morning of January 17th she met her children again. It was also the day we met her. It was the day we locked her and her family in our hearts.
When we left Lia Grace at the end of February we thought our story would end happily: she was hopeful about a job offer and a couple of weeks later she was able to send her children to school in Moyo, which is a village nearby. Now, nine months after we met Lia Grace, she is back at square one. Her situation even got worse. Lia Grace is still left in Palorinya, still has no job and not enough money to support her family. She had to take her children out of school because of threats of South Sudanese soldiers in Moyo. The camp, which was hot and dusty when we were there, is now muddy and isolated because of the rain that will continue falling until November.
Yesterday (September 10) we spoke to Grace. While she tries to remain strong, we heard her voice crack once she started talking about her children and that she does not feel safe in the camp. It feels like she is losing hope of a better future. Her biggest wish is to bring her children to Kampala. There they would be safe and it would be easier for her to find a job. It would be a place where they can really start over.
What breaks our hearts even more is that she only needs $500,- (€424/4031SEK) to get out of there and start over in Kampala. It seems so little to make such a big change in someone’s life.
While we were there she never asked us for anything. After hearing this update, we want to help the woman who showed us how strong, loving and caring human beings can be, even when life gives them reasons not to.
Today one of our filmmakers Simon Forsberg is on his way back to Uganda for another film project. He will be there until the beginning of October. We want to take this opportunity to raise money for Lia Grace and her children so they can get out of the refugee camp. Since Simon is in Uganda, we feel that we have the opportunity to give her money with no risk of losing any valuable coins, in for example expensive transfer fees.
We already knew $500,- would give her the opportunity to take her family to Kampala and pay the rent for an apartment for the first months. We already have this $500,-. But this would just get her started. What happens if she does not find a job immediately?
We want her to be able to send her children to school once they get to Kampala and give her some time to settle down and find a job without worrying about money. It’s only therefore we need your help. We want to raise another $500,- (but we are of course happy with every extra penny) so we can really give her a chance of starting over her life. We know the money would make such a big difference and cannot wait to see that smile on her face again once she gets it.
This fundraiser closes on 25 September 2017. Let’s show a little love people.
If you don't want to donate online, Swedish residence can also SWISH to 073-904 59 81. Mark your donation with WATERTANK6 or GRACE.
Please send us a personal message if you want to transfer the money directly to our bank account. We will register it as an offline donation and make sure it gets to Grace.
If you haven’t met Lia Grace yet and you happen to live in or around Uppsala, come and meet her during the Uppsala Photo Festival 21-24 September! We will be exhibiting portraits of her neighbors and showing the documentary about Lia Grace. Filmmaker Emmi van den Boom will be there to answer all your questions and give the latest update about the fundraiser.