We launched a TV into space with messages from the Rohingya Muslim refugee children, to highlight the catastrophic impact of the genocide and subsequent evacuation from Myanmar.
Nearly a million Rohingya Muslims (over half the global population) are currently exiled from their homeland in Myanmar and living in Cox’s Bazaar in south-eastern Bangladesh. Half a million of these refugees are children. It’s a horrific situation and one which has seen shockingly little news coverage relative to the number of people affected.
Bangladeshi NGO BRAC and Outsider TV came to us asking for help, to produce a video sharing messages from the Rohingya people. Their poignant question: why is there no space on earth for us? We modified a CRT TV set to show clips from interviews with Rohingya children telling of their heart-breaking experiences, the persecution they were fleeing and the horrible quality of life in the world’s largest refugee camp.
Launching internationally with one of our bespoke space capable weather balloon requires a level of preparedness above and beyond our usual launches; however, Bangladesh was on a completely different level. Without the infrastructure we unthinkingly rely on in the First World, providing gas, filling the balloon and regulating the temperature of the camera equipment all required rapid adjustments to our setup in the field, far from our pristine, well-equipped workshop. Turning this project around was only possible with Sent Into Space, BRAC and Outsider TV coordinating efforts to overcome the myriad small hurdles that crop up on a film shoot in a refugee camp.
Every nation has subtly different airspace legislation with regard to balloon flights. Launching from Cox’s Bazaar itself was impossible, due to the proximity to the border with Myanmar and the risk of travelling into their airspace. Working with BRAC’s local contacts we secured clearance to launch from Bogra, close to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh. So as not to compromise the message of the campaign, we conducted a series of tethered launches from the refugee site, combining the footage from both locations to create a seamless video.
Whether it’s a charitable cause, a product launch or an artistic statement, all our launches are about grabbing attention and focusing it on our clients’ message. With such an important story to tell, our job on this project was to be as unobtrusive as possible, helping the refugees’ voices be heard.