Stories of survival

How would you protect yourself, your family and community from violence in war and conflict?

Stories of Survival (SOS) is a storytelling project that shares the personal experiences of how ordinary people protect themselves and others during armed conflict.  The project  aims to build dialogue and cross-cultural understanding among communities, humanitarian agencies, and the public about protecting human rights, nonviolent approaches to confronting violence and building peace in armed conflict zones. In Australia the SOS project builds the skills of story tellers in areas such as communications, public speaking and film production.

Below are a number of diverse stories produced in mediums including song, written text, spoken word and short documentaries. Experiences range from young South Sudanese men narrowly escaping the common fate of becoming child soldiers; people risking their lives to report human rights abuses in Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo and conflict resolution initiatives in Afghanistan, run by locals using their own culture and traditions.

Said Dileri

Said shares his personal experience as a program manager of a conflict resolution and peacebuilding program in Padwan province, Afghanistan. Two villages from different ethnic groups with seemingly entrenched hatred for one another were able to resolve decades of fighting by being reminded of traditions of peace inherent in Afghan and Islamic culture. This story challenges stereotypes of Afghanistan trapped in endemic violence and warfare that can only be resolved through external intervention.

Click here for Said’s story of survival

Monica Amakou

South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has the worst maternal and child health rates in the world. Monica gives us a personal insight into this horrific statistic, by sharing her experiences of being a mother in the midst of a civil war. At the core of her message, Monica stresses that women need to be valued in this new nation; the problem is much larger than just a lack of hospitals and midwives, but is a social issue as well.

Click here for Monica’s story of survival.

Future of Rap

Through the determination of their family, and individual persistence, the talented men of the Future of Rap duo give thanks that they were able to narrowly avoid becoming child soldiers, like many South Sudanese boys their age. They were lucky enough to come to Australia and have used rap to communicate a message of peace and understanding not only to the wider public but to their own generation and community.

Click here for the Future of Rap duo’s story of survival.

Marisol Salinas

The indigenous people of Chile and south west Argentina – the Mapuche – have devised strategies over the centuries, to not only protect themselves, but preserve their culture and heritage.

Click here for Marisol’s story of survival.

Marama Kufi

Like countless Oromo people living in Ethiopia, Marama was forced to leave to save his life. Since he reached the safety of Australia after spending years in a refugee camp, Marama does everything he can to help his people still suffering in Ethiopia. Through community run organisations such the Oromia Support Group and the Oromo Relief Association , Marama tirelessly campaigns to raise awareness about the plight of Oromo people, works to get Oromo people out of refugee camps to countries like Australia and helps them to settle into their new lives once they arrive. His own story is at the core of his motivation, as he understands better than most what it takes to survive.

Click here for Marama’s story of survival.

Tarekegn Chimdi

As a human rights activist, Chimdi was committed to raising international awareness of the persecution of Oromo people in Ethiopia. During his activism, he was involved in the writing of an Amnesty International report which exposed the human rights abuses of the Oromo people by the Ethiopian government. Chimdi was forced to leave Oromia when he was targeted with political violence as a result of his activism.

Click here for Tarekegn’s story of survival.

Get involved 

We invite you to share your own experiences of war and conflict, whether you are a survivor, still living in insecurity, or are actively intervening in war and conflict situations. Use our submit story form to send through your own Story of Survival.  Stories can take many forms including pictures, movies, audio clips, or written works.  Ideally, movie and audio clips should be no more than 5 minutes while written pieces should be limited to 3 pages.

Story telling can have the following benefits:

  • raising awareness and promoting a positive image of people from war and conflict;
  • honing new skills and knowledge in communication, storytelling and multimedia;
  • creating tools to promote humanitarian causes of communities; and
  • providing opportunities to connect, swap experiences and strategies.


Special thanks

Diaspora Action Australia would like to thank VicHealth for funding this project as part of their Technology, Arts and Social Connection Program. Thanks also to LaTrobe University and to supporters including Multicultural Media Exchange, RISE (Refugees, Survivors and Ex-Detainees), Darfur Australia Network, ONDRU and Jill Paris from the Ecumenical Migration Centre (EMC).

A special thanks to all the media consultants that volunteered their time, Diaspora Action Australia volunteers and to our extraordinary participants whose courage, sense of humor and commitment made this project what it is.