Stefan Simanowitz did it again! The journalists, broadcaster and human rights campaigner thankfully features yours truly in the New Internationalist on May 20. The article "Screenings in the Devil's Garden: The Sahara Film Festival" deals with the annual transformation of the refugee camps to a Cannes of a different nature. By converting the tented "homes" of an exiled people to a place of film culture and art, the government-in-exile and the part of the international community that does not look away attempt to raise awareness for the Western Sahara dispute and put the people, their sufferings and their hopes on the map.
Simanowitz gives a great, almost heart-breaking account of the Saharawi endurances and closes his account with a very personal revelation:
"I touch down in London, dusty and somewhat dazed, but with a rare clarity of purpose. The next day at work I take my boss aside and hand her my letter of resignation. Whilst staying in refugee camp in Dakhla, I realized that the lack of international awareness of the Saharawis’ struggle makes their desperate situation feel even more hopeless than it already is. And so I have resolved to give up my day job and work with the Free Western Sahara Campaign to help move the story of the Saharawi refugees off the culture pages of a few magazines reporting on the film festival and on to the international pages of all newspapers, where it belongs." (Simanowitz 2009)
This life-changing decision is eye-opening and admirable. His conclusions revive the belief in self-less philanthropy as well as they reinforce a pessimistic perspective onto the state of journalistic media. Kudos to you, Stefan!