Lost in migration

Working together in protecting children from disappearance


The power of film as a tool for social change

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/164064320

Website: http://theinvisiblecitykakuma.com 

Kakuma (“nowhere” in the local language) is a refugee camp in the middle of the Turkana desert (Kenya). However, after 20 years of existence, it has become the fastest growing city in the region 200.000 people. Among them, many unaccompanied children. With limitless energy, these children grab all opportunities in the camp to rebuild their life.

But will Nyankong (8 years old) ever be reunited with her mother? And Claude (17), will he succeed in his dream and leave for America (ah Amerika!)? Or Kadijo (17), what will happen if she fails her school exam? Will her mother let her go, or will she expect her daughter to get married?

Filmmaker Lieven Corthouts (Belgium) decided to stay in one of the toughest places on earth and make a camp his home. While filming his friends for more than 4 years, he unveils the true dynamics of today’s refugee camps.

THE INVISIBLE CITY [KAKUMA] hopes to give an inside view into the lifestage, where children are on the verge of adulthood and make decisions about their life and future. Can a camp really offer a future? or is it just a waiting room, where the only option is to plan your journey to Europe?

With his unique access and concerned point of view, Lieven Corthouts manages to humanise refugees, who have been degraded all too easily as statistics and ‘problems’ over the last years. With THE INVISIBLE CITY [KAKUMA], Lieven advocates for a more humane, sustainable and long-term vision within migration policy.

To reunite the enormous number of unaccompanied children with their families, Lieven developed a community-led, community-driven mobile search app “FIND ME”. He started developing this grassroots app in 2015 and proved the need for a tool for refugee communities, independent of top-down decision making. The app FIND ME is currently in testing phase in Kakuma. The objective is to roll it out in other camps and among unaccompanied children in Europe.

Link to the app : https://vimeo.com/163090699

THE INVISIBLE CITY [KAKUMA] clearly reveals the main reasons why refugee teenagers and children leave the camp and undertake the dangerous journey to Europe: because refugee camps are not designed as long-term solutions. They do not foresee higher education and refugees are not legally allowed to work. Kakuma and the story of Kakuma can serve as an example for all refugee camps that have been built since the beginning of the current migration crisis all along the migration trail in Africa and in the Middle East.

We want the film to be seen especially by teenage audiences, in order to influence the mindset of the future generations. This film can be an antidote to rising xenophobia - in Europe but also in host countries like Kenya. We designed interactive educational webpages to contextualise and introduce the film. The webpages are being made available in English and French early October 2016.

With this film, Lieven also aims to support civil society partner organisations (NGO’s) in a very in-depth and engaging way about the mechanisms of today’s refugee camps and support their work with the film, in order to help raise awareness and lobby on a political level.

Currently we have been concentrating on European decision makers (European Parliament & Council, Belgian ministers) and the host country: Kenya. But we want to continue this work in different European member states and in other African host countries. Lieven continues to travel from screening to screening since April 2016.

Read a personal insight into Lieven’s stay and documentary making process in his blog post here.


Film as a medium is a very effective tool in instigating action. It has been proven that good documentary storytelling engages its audiences in a long-lasting and active way.

If we can support your action points and campaigns targetting the protection of unaccompanied minors and childs rights, we can organize a screening for your staff, colleagues, school,…

Our tools:

  • director Lieven Corthouts as expert with unique access information and view
  • educational package of interactive webpages in Dutch, French & English
  • concept of the FIND ME app to reunite refugee families at grassroots level
  • webseries FIND ME IN KAKUMA, from April 2017, focusing on unaccompanied minors and family reunification in the Horn of Africa. Every week the webseries will be updated with new films, data, pictures. Online from April 2017

> For more information, please contact celine@timescapes.be

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The Invisible City [Kakuma] - Trailer (ENG) - Lieven Corthouts from Cassette for timescapes on Vimeo.

Epim - Never alone

This conference has been supported by the Fund ‘Never Alone – Building our future with children and youth arriving in Europe’ of the European Programme for Integration and Migration (EPIM), a collaborative initiative of the Network of European Foundations (NEF). The sole responsibility for the conference lies with the organiser(s) and the content may not necessarily reflect the positions of EPIM, NEF or the Foundations contributing to the Fund.

Programme of the European Union

With financial support from the "Rights, Equality and Citizenship 2014-2020" Programme of the European Union