Authors: Philippa Simmonds, Nashwinder Kaur, Hajer Hadi and Mary Harasym
“When the film team asked if they could stay with me and my family for a month to film, I said yes without any hesitation. But I had one condition: That I could also get a camera to tell my story…”
On 21st November, EOGH held our second IRL event: a screening of the documentary “Thank You for the Rain”, followed by a panel discussion among local stakeholders with an interest in climate change. The event took place at uKirke, with a full house of approximately seventy people joining for a cosy and thought-provoking evening.
Thank You for the Rain begins through the camera lens of Norwegian filmmaker Julia Dahr, showing the daily life of Kisilu Musya, a Kenyan farmer. Like many other families in his community, Kisilu and his wife depend on farming to feed their children and support their education. The audience is brought along on an emotional journey to understand how Kisilu and his family are living at the frontline of climate change. The effects on their livelihood are well illustrated: initial droughts are seen to drive farmers out to town to find work, then the sudden occurrence of rainstorms begins to destroy their crops and houses.
As the film progresses Kisilu increasingly takes on the role of filmmaker, documenting his family’s daily lives and explaining his struggles using a camera provided by Julia. From a husband and father, we see him transform to take on the role of a community leader and activist. Comparing humans to ants, he becomes more interested in joining his efforts with others, in the hope that concerted efforts by people globally could help save our planet. Through his camera lens, the audience is brought along on Kisilu’s voyage to distant lands to share his experiences with the rest of the world.
“I really liked the way the film was mostly directed through the hands of Kisilu himself. It showed that he was an active agent, sharing with the audience how extreme weather events were impacting him and how climate conferences were not including the voices of people like him. This was different from the various talks, conferences and even classes I’ve sat through on climate change, where the problem mostly felt like something far away. People can return back to the safety of their homes with everything still easily available and accessible, not like Kisilu and his family whose home was being destroyed. It brought me to agree with the most important takeaway of the film: that people affected by climate change were “just here to listen and not to be heard” when powerful actors met to negotiate international treaties. This led me to think about when and how people like Kisilu can be heard in global health planning and coordination?” Nash Kaur
The panel discussion featured Julie Fogt Rasmussen, Miliki Gemechu, and Anne Gadegaard, and was moderated by Philippa Simmonds. The range of experiences and perspectives led to a lively and insightful discussion which could have gone on for hours!
Julie currently works at the Danish Institute for International Studies, but attended the panel as a private individual with a strong record of climate change research and activism. She was a founding member of the climate justice group within Afrika Kontakt, and wrote her Masters thesis about climate change governance in Kenya, giving her experience of some of the challenges shown in the film. A strong proponent of the political aspects of climate change, she advocates bringing climate change governance to local communities, arguing that equitable solutions to climate change will come from democracy, not technology.
Miliki is a dental student at KU who was representing Black Lives Matter Denmark. Originally from Ethiopia, she explained the link between the work of Black Lives Matter and the fight for climate justice. Many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are in Africa and the Caribbean, and even in developed countries the effects of climate change disproportionately impact black lives and livelihoods. She emphasised the importance of listening to the people living with these problems, a point that was perfectly illustrated by Kisilu’s camera work in the movie. Miliki also argued that rich countries who are major polluters must shoulder the costs of climate change mitigation, rather than passing this on to developing countries who are being forced to bear the worst of the effects.
Anne works as Director of Global Triple Bottom Line Management at Novo Nordisk, a Danish pharmaceutical company that produces nearly half of the world’s insulin. She explained how investing in reducing carbon emissions has lead to significant savings for Novo Nordisk, and advocated the business case for climate change mitigation by private companies. She argued that the private sector does have a role to play in climate justice, and that it will be important to move out of silos in order to match private funding to small organisations. Anne made the point that everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change; from governments and corporations to individuals.
It only takes one person with a cause and the courage to speak out, for a seed to be planted and grow. Kisilu’s passion is seen throughout the film, and by the end of the night we were all feeling inspired to work together and join the fight against climate change. EOGH would like to thank all the panelists and audience members who joined us; we look forward to organising more topical and fun events in 2019!
You can donate to support Kisilu’s community work here. Readers in Copenhagen can find information about upcoming climate demonstrations here, and here.