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Noela Kalimi Luka will spend her fellowship at Disability Rights Washington.

Noela Kalimi Luka is a documentary filmmaker, producer and director in Nairobi, Kenya, where she applies her creative skills and passion to pursue advocacy for people with disabilities. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and working for various NGOs, mainstream media outlets and film production companies, Noela traveled to the U.S. to pursue an M.F.A in Documentary Film at Wake Forest University, North Carolina. During that time, she was diagnosed with unspecified bipolar, and since returning home, has been on a journey to confront misconceptions and correct information about psychosocial disabilities. She has great skill and dedication in using media to help others understand the dynamics of mental health and wellness.

Noela is a beneficiary and partner of Cheshire Disability Services Kenya in the Social Innovation Lab Project. She is self-employed and works collaboratively with specialized psychosocial disability stakeholders to champion access to mental health information and services. Her work has been screened and given awards in Africa, Europe, and North America. Her films often include themes such as environmental conservation, conflict resolution, health, migration, and community efforts to make positive change in their lives.

A constant theme of Noela’s advocacy has been increasing mental health awareness in East Africa. The primary goal of her Fellowship project is to create disability awareness through storytelling. This will act as an advocacy tool and challenge misconceptions towards inclusive employment. Some components of this will include the documentation of success stories, the training of individuals (including science journalists) to tell better stories, community screenings of created content, and social media campaigns. The ultimate goals of these awareness campaigns will be the financial empowerment of people with mental illnesses, the promotion of good health and wellbeing, and increased access to decent work and economic growth.