From 1998 to 2003, The Second Congo War had consumed the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Hundreds of thousands of Congolese people – forced to leave their homes – fled across international borders. Among those who fled were the thousands of people from Katanga Province. They went south into Zambia and were placed into two refugee camps, Kala and Mwange, where they existed for nearly a decade.
Fast-forward to 2006. The international community declared the Katanga Province stable. However, the inability to connect the refugees to the kind of information they needed, left many of the refugees in Zambia wary of the circumstances they would find if they returned home.
Armed with only two hand-held cameras, TRP traveled to the DRC to collect testimonies of former refugees who had already returned home and were in the process of re-building their lives. Through extensive visual documentation, TRP would give the refugees access to valuable information that would mean the difference between remaining in a refugee camp or their repatriation.
The result? A 45-minute ﬁlm documenting the conditions in popular areas of return, messages from family and friends, and information on the assistance that returning refugees would receive. The film, “Today We Pack, Tomorrow We Settle,” was screened inside the Congolese refugee camps for thousands to see.
The REEL Project’s documentary contributed to the voluntary repatriation of over 9,000 refugees to Katanga Province, DRC by 2009.
The two refugee camps in Zambia, Kala and Mwange, were closed a year later.