Tumaini Festival which takes place at Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Dowa annually has scooped the 2020 Sharjah International Award for Refugee Support and Advocacy.
The presentation of the award was made yesterday in United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Tumaini Festival Founder Menes la Plume did not travel to UAE to receive the awards due to travel restrictions.
Menes, who is also an artist, said yesterday that the organisers of the award discovered their work through the internet.
“This award means so much to me as I am seeing the fruits of hard work I have put up in promoting arts and advocating for refugee rights for the past seven years,” he said.
Menes said the award also means a lot to the whole refugee community at Dzaleka Refugee as Tumaini Festival has brought their voices to millions of people around the world.
“Refugees at Dzaleka are no longer a forgotten community. This award also means a lot to the Malawian creative industry and to Malawi as a whole because Malawi has been put in the limelight,” he said.
This award is established in support of any organisation, across Asia and Africa that has made an extraordinary effort in humanitarian effort to improve the lives of refugees, internally displaced or stateless people.
The Sharjah International Award started in 2017 by the Big Heart Foundation, a charity chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bin Mohammed Al Oasimi, who is also the UNHCR’s first eminent advocate for refugee children.
Tumaini Festival was selected out of 180 nominated organisations from Africa and Asia because of its unique and innovative approach in refugee advocacy and support.
“We also got the award because of our uniqueness of our flagship initiative of the annual festival which is the world’s first international festival taking place in the refugee camp,” Menes said.
The presentation of the award according to Menes, was graced by Quasimi, Supreme Council Member of the United Arabic Emirates and ruler of Sharjah and Filipo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
In 2018, Menes also won the World Bank Africa’s Social Inclusion Hero Award for creating Tumaini Festival.
“Across the past six years, we have attracted thousands of attendees and we have united 304 groups of artists from different countries and we have seen the magic of brotherhood shared through different art forms,” he said.
He recalled that 12 years ago, he was forced to flee his home country in DRC and found himself at Dzaleka.
Meanwhile, Menes, has said they were still monitoring the situation for the festival which takes place in November.
“We will make the final decision after monitoring the situation in mid-September,” he said.
Due to Covid-19 pandemic, several events have been postponed and it includes Blantyre Arts Festival (BAF) and Nkhotakota Festival.