Dadaab Stories

One camp. Half a million refugees. Countless stories.

Ronik worked with FilmAid to create Dadaab Stories, a video portal for the stories created by the residents of the largest refugee camp in the world.

FilmAid uses the power of film and media to transcend language and literacy, bringing life-saving information, psychological relief and much-needed hope to refugees and other communities in need around the globe. With a grant from the Tribeca Film Institute, FilmAid sought to create a multimedia storytelling experience with the powerful content produced as a result of their work in Dadaab in Eastern Kenya. The residents of the refugee camp find solace, fulfillment and awareness through the films they make for each other and for the world.

Dadaab Stories is chock full of lively content without being overwhelming

FilmAid furnishes Dadaab residents with their own recording devices to synthesize their emotions, stories, and lives as refugees. They realized that the expanding collection of content needed a place to live online. The organization wanted to give these creators a platform to share their films, regardless of subject matter. The site would simultaneously serve an informational purpose — to shine a light on the vast number of people who are forced to flee conflicts in Eastern Africa and relocate to refugee camps like Dadaab.

Though Dadaab, by virtue of the role it plays in African politics, is host to people who have witnessed and experienced unique suffering and hardships, we did not want the people of the camp to be defined by darkness and despair. The videos made by the residents show not just victims to be pitied but real people surviving and healing, a testament to the human will to come together, find joy, and be creative in any situation. Many of the daily dramas we are accustomed to in our own lives play out in the camp as well. Dadaab Stories immerses a global audience in their world.

To that end, we avoided harsh and gloomy design cues in favor of colorful, vibrant imagery and bold, human typography, with a heavy focus on the residents' stories and the types of messages they convey. To reach as large an audience as possible, we developed the website to be highly responsive and enjoyable at any screen size.

We built the site on top of Tumblr, meaning that interacting with the CMS is as easy as creating a new video post. The people in the camp creating videos often use donated iPhones, so we facilitated the process of uploading the videos to the site with a simple and established interface.

The site was built to be fluid and responsive, allowing Dadaab residents an optimal experience on their iPhones.

The response to the website from within the design community was overwhelming. Dadaab Stories was featured on numerous websites as an example of responsive design and execution. The site was a Commarts Web Pick of the Week and was featured on Awwwards as a Site of the Day, and Ronik won the 2013 Pixel Award for Non-Profit & Charity and the 2013 Horizon Interactive Award for Advocacy/Non-Profit. The site was also highlighted across various news outlets for its content, drawing praise for its human portrayal of life in the largest refugee camp in the world.

  • Horizon Interactive Award Best in Category Advocacy / Non-Profit 2013
  • Awwward Site of the Day 2013
  • Pixel Award Winner Non-profit & Charity 2013