We're six weeks into our pilot ReFOCUS Media Skills program on the Greek island of Lesvos, which continues to hold over 10,000 refugees as their asylum claims are processed.  Our gracious host- One Happy Family Refugee Community Center- has helped us activate a dynamic community of students hungry for media skills education and experience. While many will be surprised by how quickly they have progressed, our smartphone photography courses last summer told us what was possible here. 

We're so deeply proud of our students and excited for what comes next, but we need your help in sustaining this program. The root causes of conflict continue to force thousands to flee their home countries, and the inhuman conditions inside overcrowded refugee camps along Europe's borders remain a constant that is destroying lives. While we cannot force governments to bring an end to the conflicts that force this exodus of survival, we can impact individual lives by providing access to media tools, professional instruction and promote their evolving skills.

We see nothing but extreme potential for ReFOCUS to evolve and take root in multiple refugee communities throughout the world, but we need your help.  You can be part of this by volunteering to teach your passions, donating modern media creation tools or simply by financially supporting this vital programming. 

Please consider supporting ReFOCUS because this is about REAL Lives, REAL Skills and REAL Futures.

In Solidarity,
Sonia Nandzik & Douglas Herman
Co-Founders, ReFOCUS Refugee Media Labs

Tens of thousands of teenage and young adult refugees continue to flee their countries due to conflict, war, persecution or extreme poverty.

After spending long years on their way to a safe place, they lose crucial years of education lingering in refugee camps while they wait for their asylum applications to be processed. If granted asylum, this loss of education and marketable skills compromises their dreams and aspirations as they are forced to work low-paying jobs to support their families.

ReFOCUS, a collaboration between Rough Cut Media and 1976km, aims to change this by providing refugees with modern communication skills through photography, audio and video production, graphic design, media editing and computer classes. 

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While many see these programs as Arts education, and therefore extracurricular, we see them as valuable and marketable skills any member of modern society can and should master. 

Our experience in the field shows that teenagers and young adults are in a desperate situation, and ReFOCUS courses help refugees develop marketable skills, control the way their story is told, instill the confidence needed to build better futures and avoid the trap of unstable employment.

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For these reasons, we fundraise to bring computers and media creation tools and teachers into camps and community centers to train refugees. Please note that ALL equipment secured through this fundraising will be donated to our field partners to maintain ReFOCUS Media Labs open to the community.


Several refugees with media creation skills that have secured their asylum are giving back. They, along with young filmmakers trained in Rough Cut programs in Philadelphia, will put their skills to the ultimate use by serving as Teacher-Artists and lead the workshops current refugees so desperately need. 

A major goal of our training is to help refugees learn these skills by producing original content and then hosting this work in exhibitions open to the public. In addition, we're building a support network of artists and teachers to help promote their work wherever they secure their asylum.

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The first ReFOCUS Media Lab is being established inside the One Happy Family Refugee Community Center on Lesvos, Greece because the island continues to host over 8,000 refugees and more arrive every day. This community center was built with and for refugees, and we cannot wait to return to help it continue to thrive. 

We’re coming back to this island where in 2017 we taught photography and started 1976km - a refugee storytelling project and crisis information platform. Our programming will commence in the first week of August 2018, so we need your immediate help in financing this critical endeavor.

While financing is needed to purchase computers, cameras and other media creation tools, please get in touch if you're interested in volunteering as a Teaching-Artist or have any media gear that can be utilized in our programming. 


Please consider donating to ReFOCUS
because this is about real lives
in need of real skills
that can actualize real futures