Mazda award presented for refugee documentary project

  • Patricia Charro Herrera accepts Mazda Make Things Better Award at ceremony in Belgium
  • Journalism graduate to begin shooting documentary film at refugee centre in August

Video blogger Patricia Charro Herrera received the third-annual Mazda Make Things Better Award yesterday evening during a ceremony at Mazda Motor Belux in Willebroek, Belgium. The 22-year-old journalism graduate from Spain won the €10,000 prize for “Home World”, a documentary film project conceived to tell the stories and portray the plight of refugees in Europe.

It’s a special topic for Charro, who runs a vlog (video blog) at that aims to redefine the meaning of home. Besides raising awareness and fostering acceptance among host country residents, she believes the film, which she is making together with colleague Verónica García González, will create a basis to offer the newcomers psychological support.

“Mazda is making it possible for us to try and make a difference in one of the most important issues of our time in Europe,” said Charro after the award presentation. “We want to change people’s mindsets by creating a more portable concept of ‘home’ than the prevailing idea of a specific location or physical structure.” After taking a breather at Tomorrowland 2016, a music festival taking place this weekend in the nearby Belgian town of Boom to which Mazda is the exclusive automotive partner, Charro and García will prepare to begin shooting the documentary in August on location at a refugee facility in central Europe. During their journey, they will speak to the migrants as well as activists, psychologists and journalists, also uploading daily vlog reports about their experiences to the Home World site. Post-production is slated to follow in September, and the pair hope to begin promoting the completed film by February 2017. They are also looking to organise a series of art psychology workshops at refugee centres in Europe to help the new arrivals adapt. The funding drive here will begin after the documentary is completed.

“At Mazda, we like to celebrate self-starters – people like Patricia and Verónica who do more than just talk about changing things,” commented Mazda Motor Europe’s Vice President Communications Wojciech Halarewicz after presenting this year’s trophy, which features an oversized Mazda Make Things Better Award rubber stamp with a transparent plaque as its base. “We’re pleased to be in a position to help turn this inspired vision into reality.”

Charro’s project was chosen from 50 submissions received last November in Barcelona during Mazda’s Modern Tools of Advocacy workshop at the 15th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates. Initiated to encourage under-30 year olds to put inventive ideas into action, the Mazda Makes Things Better Award supports projects making effective and imaginative use of modern tools of advocacy such as the internet to foster positive change in the world. Last year’s prize went to Yuka Kawamura, a Japanese international relations student who proposed setting up an online platform offering free tutoring and mentoring services to students around the world, particularly the underprivileged. And in 2014, Finnish medical student Antti Junkkari won for his initiative using a low-cost radio campaign to discourage gun violence in Africa.