Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group hosted a screening of “The Staging Post” at Mt Vic Flicks on Wednesday 19th of June for Refugee Week.

The filmmaker Jolyon Hoff and Afghan refugee Muzafar Ali were present for a Q&A after the film. 

In 2013 when Australia re-instigated the contentious “turn back the boats “ policy Jolyon drove up the hill from Jakarta in Indonesia to the boat’s staging post in Cisarua. He wanted to find out who the refugees were and, with the boats stopped, what they plan to do now. Almost immediately he met Muzafar and Pakistani refugee Khadim Dai

Muzafar is a photographer and human rights advocate who had worked for the UN in Afghanistan.

At their first meeting they decided to start a project together. They made a series of films , which were watched tens of thousands of times. Kadim won an award in New York, and though their images they gave a voice to a forgotten community.

Muzafar, Kadim and Jolyon went on to found a school to enable refugee children an opportunity to have the education they had been denied, funded by Australian supporters and with voluntary labour from the refugee community and overseas visitors.

The school now has nearly 200 students and 15 teachers and managers, all refugees. 

The rest of the refugee community in Indonesia watched the success of the Cisarua Refugee Learning Centre. Inspired, there are now 4 other schools, a Karate club, a women’s handicraft group and many other refugee-led initiatives in Cisarua. 

The Staging Post is about friendship, connection and the power of community; it is “uplifting and unforgettable”, “ a truely moving piece of cinema.

Muzafa Ali and his family were accepted as refugees by Australia and now live in Adelaide, camera man Kadim was accepted by the United States and now lives in Los Angeles however their work continues and Jolyon Hoff and Muzafa Ali are making a followup documentary. For more information go to The Staging Post website.

During the QandA Muzafa told us that the wait now for resettlement for refugees in Indonesia is 25 years and that the Australian Government has cut our intake to 50 such people a year.

I thoroughly recommend The Staging Post. Go if you get a chance to see it. An inspiring uplifting experience.

By Kathie Herbert and Pat Rayner

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