The World's Story is Yours to Tell
Who are you and what is your profession?
Carol Francis- Rinehart, Co-Founder/Executive Director of Project Education Sudan and the Executive Producer of Referendum: Diaspora Perspective One Day on Earth 10.10.10 project.
Carol’s work with the Sudanese “Lost Boys” began with their arrival in 2001. She is recognized nationwide for her activism and consulting on behalf of the Sudan. She and “Lost Boy” Isaac Khor Bher went to South Sudan months after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to reunite Isaac with his mother after over 20 years of being separated from war. In 2006, along with Isaac Khor Bher, she founded Project Education Sudan (PES) to support the creation of an educational infrastructure in rural South Sudan. PES has reunited 7 more “Lost Boys” with their families from 2006-2008 where PES is building schools. She is currently the Executive Director. Carol was a 2008 Delegate to the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women, and has a particular interest on equal education for girls. Carol leads annual monitoring and working trips to South Sudan to promote the work of PES. www.projecteducationsudan.org Go to www.onedayonearth.org/group/pes
Can you tell us a little about your background and upbringing?
I grew up in the Air Force, moving to an new state or country every 3-4 years. I lived in Puerto Rico during the Cuban Missile Crisis, when I first became aware of the possibility of nuclear warfare. I was a shy introverted child which gave me the opportunity to be more of an observer of life. Growing up in the sixties thrust me into the social change fervor of the times. I became active in civil rights, resisting the war in Vietnam and the women’s movement. I have traveled extensively, am a former Secondary teacher and have worked in refugee resettlement in the U.S. for over 25 years. I have been married to my husband Richard for 37 years, have two adult children and am a grandmother of two boys.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I am not a film maker, I am a boiler of creative ideas! I minored in film studies in college and have a design background. I am not a professional. I have participated as a producer with professional documentary Director, Craig Volk on One Story: Isaac Khor Bher, and with professional international journalist, Tamara Banks with the One Day on Earth 10.10.10 project Referendum: Diaspora Perspective. I have written scripts and film for Project Education Sudan when I return each year to the villages in Jonglei State, South Sudan where PES helps communities build schools. I film or photograph more out of a desire to capture the soul of a subject or landscape. Working in Sudan brought the opportunity to me. The subject matter of South Sudan has penetrated my heart living, working and being with the rural people and experiencing such a spirit of joy in spite of the suffering. I like to capture hope through conversation or visually by photographing “the day in the life of” which is what inspired me to accept the invitation from One Day on Earth. Tamara Banks, the videographer who filmed the project, also works in South Sudan so I knew I wanted to partner with her to film the interviews of the Sudanese Diaspora in Denver. She has the same love for the subject as I do. She returned with me this past Feb-March 2011 to film a documentary on South Sudan building a new nation. Project Education Sudan was chosen as an organization working on helping build schools in the most rural and impoverished war torn areas of the country.
Who or what do you most admire?
I have a deep admiration for the people of South Sudan who have endured over 125 years of oppression. They have learned to hold onto life and be grateful for each day. It is humbling. The Sudanese women are my heroes; they teach me daily how to give, forgive, have faith and hope.
I also admire my husband, Richard who shares my vision and puts up with a 61 year young woman who leaves for two months a year to one of the most dangerous places on earth. He often does not hear from me for days or a week due to lack of cell or internet.
What did you film on 10.10.10?
We were not able to secure a film maker in South Sudan in 2010, so we decided to focus on the recent referendum and capture the voices of a cross section of South Sudanese in the Diaspora living in Denver, Colorado. Project Education Sudan’s Referendum: Diaspora Perspective captures the voices and stories of Denver Diaspora Sudanese Nibol Achuil, Mary Reng, Sarah Achyo and Mama Kot Bior - Bor Women’s Association of Colorado; Daniel Majok Gai - Project Education Sudan; Agana Zephenia - L.I.O.N.S. Graduate; Gideon Abraham - SPLA Secretariat, Colorado; Carol Francis-Rinehart - Director, Project Education Sudan and “Lost Boy” Ngor Gai Abiar as they share their hopes and perspectives on the upcoming January Referendum and journey from oppression and war to freedom.
What are you planning on filming for 11.11.11?
We will film this year in South Sudan. It will focus on capturing the daily life in the rural area of Jonglei State, South Sudan: its chiefs, elders, children, and women around the theme of the newest nation in the world (July 9, 2011) The Republic of South Sudan. We will film one of the only all girls school (700 girls!) in the area where only 1% of girls attend primary and less than 1% graduate from secondary, interview elected local and government officials, teachers, women, children, and the Dinka cattle camp culture. Daniel Majok Gai and I will do the filming.