Na Wa Festival is an awareness raising campaign against human trafficking. Following the first lap of the festival in summer 2011 held in Nigeria, Na Wa Launches its second lap in Vienna, Austria. Organized in cooperation with the yearly human rights festival “thishumanworld”, feature and documentary films debating human trafficking would be screened starting december 1st. Na Wa Festival would host two film premieres and panel discussions in Top kino and Schikaneder Kino.
“Enhancing Multi-stakeholders cooperation to fight human trafficking in countries of origin and destination” was an 18-months project designed to build capacity of stakeholders and raise awareness of human trafficking and undocumented migration in a selected country of origin and six destination countries. The project was jointly implemented by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, International Organization for Migration and the civil society organization, EXIT. NGO EXIT was responsible for the implementation of the awareness raising component of the project which included organizing a traveling film festival in three endemic Nigeria states, implementing and monitoring follow-up activity in Nigeria, developing of a documentary for training, organizing screening events in Vienna and disseminating the documentary for follow-up workshops in Europe. The main objective of the awareness component of the project was to foster prevention by raising awareness about the complexity of the issue among relevant stakeholders and vulnerable groups.
The traveling film festival in Nigeria lunched „Na Wa Festival“ was designed to host series film screenings and interactive activities. Na Wa Festival was a nine day event designed to facilitate dialogue on issues relating to human trafficking and the exploitation of African migrants in Europe. The nine-day festival, which began on June 13, 2011, had approximately 1329 attendees, including both government officials and members of civil society. Other attendees included Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry) professionals, vulnerable groups/communities, academics and religious practitioners. The festival took place in 3 Nigerian states namely Abuja, Edo state and Lagos state. Through film screenings and other interactive activities like book readings, panel discussions, strategic networking events, consultation meetings and media relations, and the festival prompted an active debate and participation of target audiences. Furthermore, 3000 free DVD packages consisting of six films portraying the reality for victims of trafficking and undocumented migration were disseminated for further awareness raising.
Following the traveling film festival in Nigeria, three follow up initiatives were selected based on an open call for proposal launched by NGO EXIT. Selected initiatives were granted funds to replicate the Na Wa Festival. Follow up activities utilized the disseminated films to educate about 1700 vulnerable individuals through grassroots operations in Edo and Lagos state. The civil society organization GPI, implemented further follow-up projects that led to the weekly airing of all six films on the local television network in Edo state.
A 25-minutes documentary film, “Are we Aware?“ was developed by the Austrian filmmaker Emanuel Danesch to train stakeholders from judiciary, law enforcement and civil society. The documentary, which portrays trafficking from Nigeria to Europe and analyzes push factors, cohesion of victims and identification of victims was disseminated to participating stakeholders, interested civil society organizations in Austria and study-visit participants.
The European lap of the awareness-raising initiative was launched in Vienna on December 1-2, 2011. The festival was launched with a press conference and three film screenings/discussion events held in two Viennese cinemas. Screening events in Vienna saw the participation of the Nigerian ambassador to Austria who later initiated a follow-up lecture targeting the Nigerian community leaders. Awareness raising materials including the film packages were disseminated to stakeholders and study-visit participants to initiate follow-up screenings.
The awareness raising component of the project reached approximately 2700 individuals directly, while continuous on going usage of the film, airing on television of the films as well as media reports reaches thousands of viewers and readers in Nigeria and in Europe. The Festival served as a starting point for a series of awareness-raising activities and discussions about human trafficking. As films selected showcased personal stories of victims of trafficking in various European countries, the realities of life in Europe for trafficked victims were diversely conveyed. Through testimonials of victims and exchange of information during respective awareness events, participants from civil society gained additional knowledge on how to identify victims and protect potential victims against the luring promises of traffickers. Also family members and vulnerable young girls were reminded about the need to seek deeper information on any offer to Europe. The festival brought more visibility on the issue of trafficking in persons and the dangers associated with it, which led to further exchange of ideas for future collaboration with Nollywood professionals and European filmmakers and researchers on developing realistic home videos for the Nigerian local market. Initial evaluation clearly indicates that the awareness-raising component of this project has successfully paved the way for continued action and dialogue on the issue of human trafficking from Nigeria to Europe.