Whilst there are more refugees and displaced people now than at any other time on record, public and media discourse is often apathetic, misguided or even hostile. In contrast to the rising numbers of people seeking safety, media coverage is minimal, and often focuses on the potential dangers of accepting refugees. And whilst there have been many effective interventions from governments and civil society, it has also been increasingly difficult to provide essential humanitarian aid to those making their perilous journey.
We want to interrupt this trend.
We want to bring the migrant crisis back into the public eye, in a humanising and dignifying light. The Odyssey Project, an offshoot of Refugee Aid Serbia, is a documentary following three humanitarian aid workers through one of the main migration routes into Europe, from Turkey to Brussels, the heart of the European Union.
Throughout the journey, their van will be stopping off at key transit points and engaging local populations and the refugee community through Routes festivals, based on similar eventswe have piloted in Serbia. The festivals aim to bring together locals with the local refugee populations through workshops, discussions and performances. We want to offer a chance for interaction, but also a day of recreation on what is often a perilous journey for refugees.
You can check out the video below of the Belgrade 2016 Routes Festival!
And now we need your help!
We’ve launched our crowdfunder to ask for your support in making this happen, and we want to ask for two things.
Firstly, and most importantly (let’s not beat around the bush), contribute. Your donation will help cover the costs of everything from the documentary crew to the festivals, from hiring translators to artist and musician fees, professional workshops to advertising materials. It may seem a large sum at first, but once you break it down, every cent is accounted for.
Secondly, please share! We want to reach as wide an audience as possible and we will not achieve this project without your help.
You can share our video and campaign, but you can also follow and share our project on Facebook, Instagramor Twitter.
Meet the Team
We're three humanitarian aid workers who have worked in the refugee crisis for the past year accompanied by an experienced production team. Through our work with Refugee Aid Serbia we have had experience leading the largest distribution of food and non-food items to refugees in Belgrade, running educational and recreational programs, and organising community events.
Felix Thomson -Project Manager
Felix has been co-coordinating the distribution of humanitarian aid for Refugee Aid Serbia in Belgrade for the past 6 months. Since graduating in Politics and French from the University of Warwick, Felix worked in press relations at Publicis Consultants, for the Africa Region of the World Heritage Centre of UNESCO, as a youth worker for the children's charity Barnardo's and as a translator.
Diana Vasov -Research and Development Officer
A former refugee herself, Diana graduated with a Master of Human Rights and Bachelors in Psychology. She has been leading distribution of humanitarian aid, educational and recreational activities for Refugee Aid Serbia in Belgrade since June 2016. In April 2017, along with partner organisation North Star, she was instrumental in opening 'The Workshop', a dedicated learning space for migrants transiting Serbia. Her experience of living her first three years in a Danish refugee camp formed many of the workshop ideas for the Routes festivals.
Petar Bojovic -Creative Director
Originally from Serbia, Petar has spent his career in the media industry. Specialising in post-production, he has worked at some of Australia’s key television networks and production houses.
Educated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Media Studies and Master of Arts in Sociology, he is well equipped to lead the content side of the Odyssey Project. Petar's extensive networks in the humanitarian aid sphere as well as in television and production have been invaluable in generating preliminary footage for the documentary.
Samuel Horn -Partnerships and Funding
Belgium born and qualified as an engineer, Sam has been living in Belgrade for the past year. Samuel has corporate experience in Belgium and frontline humanitarian aid experience through his role as Field Officer for Refugee Aid Serbia. Samuel is also vastly experienced in charity fundraising, festival organisation and corporate/charitable sponsorship.
Leila Maktari – Producer
A producer and talent expert with over 12 years experience in television and digital media, she has worked for some of London and Australia's leading entertainment companies including MTV Australia, Fremantle Media (X-Factor), Channel 4 (Richard & Judy show) and Foxtel (Lifestyle Channel), Channel 7 (Current affairs) and a four part factual entertainment series for Nat Geo People. Leila is accustomed to casting and managing celebrities and finding everyday people with authentic stories. Most recently she worked as a Digital Producer making award winning content for BEfest Content Company of the year, One Green Bean. She has extensive experience in documentary production and is excited to work on a humanitarian project.
The team behind the Odyssey Project are part of the team behind Refugee Aid Serbia.
We believe in the power of crowdfunding. It's idealistic, and it's a place where everyday people can breathe life into projects or campaigns they feel are worth supporting. We've run a number of successful crowdfunders with Refugee Aid Serbia, raising over €20,000 our humanitarian aid activities.
Refugee Aid Serbia began as a collaboration of concerned citizens, non-governmental organizations, charities, and local businesses operating out of Miksalište refugee centre, in the Savamala neighbourhood in Belgrade. Here we collected and delivered clothing, food and hygiene items to the hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers transiting Serbia.
Since then we have witnessed the official closure of the Balkan route, despite which asylum seekers still arrive in Serbia daily, many of whom stop off in Belgrade city-centre. Many become stuck, sleeping rough in improvised shelters and abandoned buildings. Here, we meet some of their most basic needs and offer them a moment of respite. We provide short term assistance through our delivery of essential aid and long-term educational and recreational programs, notably our recently opened education centre, "The Workshop". We always look to raise refugee issues with the public through external trainings, fundraising events and conferences.
We mean it. We can't get this project off the ground without your support so thank you for your contribution, your input, and sharing.
Our hope is to provide a platform for critical engagement on migration issues through both the festivals and the resulting documentary. We want to humanise the refugee route and make some noise to disrupt the current discourse. If you share our aims, please consider supporting us on this journey.