Just Kids

Documentary Series
award, human rights, youth documentary series
26 x 15'-20'
Els van Driel, Susan Koenen, Eefje Blankevoort, Anneloor van Heemstra, Godelieve Eijsink
IKON Television
Banff Rockie Award best Children's Non-Fiction, Unicef Japan Prize, Cinekid Golden Kinderkast fot Best Television Production 2015
HD available

Every child has the right to a happy life. That is what Just Kids is all about. Convention on the Rights of the Child Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and accession by General Assembly resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989 entry into force 2 September 1990, in accordance with article 49.

Episode 1 Feifei – Hide and Seek
Feifei (8) is a Chinese boy, born in the Netherlands, who officially doesn’t exist. He is undocumented, together with his mother. He is an illegal resident. But he is also just a child, like his friend Mees who thinks it is totally weird that Feifei doesn’t have a passport. Feifei himself also doesn’t understand a thing of all this paper- work, but he hopes that a special Children’s regulation will give him the papers he needs to build up a normal life in a decent house. Will he succeed in getting these papers?

Episode 2 Merlijn and the red Apple
Merlijn (11) is a happy, smart boy with a head full of ideas. He is the self-crowned king of his room and has a best friend who is always there for him. But there’s one big problem: Merlijn is autistic and unable to attend school. A classroom full of children is too crowded for him. That’s why he hasn’t gone to school for years now. What kind of education will help children like Merlijn?

Episode 3 Imraan is freed
Imraan is only ten years old when he leaves the house of his parents in the countryside of India. He goes to Delhi to find work so he can bring money to his parents and pay off the debts of their hospital bills. But it turns out to be a dreadful experience. He has to work until late at night and gets bad food. He is never allowed to leave the workplace and also gets beaten up. He is imprisoned as a slave and so he dreams of the cows that he used to graze in the village. He misses his mother, who is ill. What will Imraan’s future look like?

Episode 4 Joëlla – Best Friends Forever
Joëlla (11) is a girl who suffers from FAS disease, which was caused by her mother drinking too much alcohol during her pregnancy. Her behaviour is so jumpy, how will she ever get a BFF, a Best Friend Forever?

Episode 5 Queen – Letter to the Queen
“Dear Queen Maxima”. Thus starts the letter of Queen, a 10-year-old girl that is close to becoming homeless and having to live on the streets together with her Nigerian mother. Queen is an ‘illegal alien’ in The Netherlands. They are extremely poor by Dutch poverty standards and often have nothing to eat. She writes a letter to our ‘alien’ queen Maxima (who was born in Argentina): where will she stay over at Christmas and New Year’s eve.

Episode 6 How Ky turned into Niels
Messing with fireworks, ring and run and a lot of football practice. This makes Ky really happy, but she has also been unhappy for years because she has a girl’s body. Last summer Ky finally managed to tell her parents she wants to become a boy. And she would like to have a different name: Niels. Together with her friend Sterre, who used to be called Tibor and therefore has a boy’s body, they tell their new secondary school class that they are transgender children. It is the beginning of a new life as Niels.

Episode 7 Black and White
Jason (aged 12) is in his last year of primary school and used to be bullied. Some kids think he is weird because he prefers acting and singing to playing football. The bullying made a big impact on Jason’s life and therefore he keeps to himself. He sees his class as a game of chess: the white pieces are his friends and the black pieces are the enemy. He wants to safely reach the other side, but how? He decides to write a song about his feelings and hopes his classmates will understand him better…

Episode 8 The lion and the brave mouse
Nora is nine years old when a mssile destroys her home in Homs, Syria. Her cat is buried under the rubble and dies. Nora must flee and is allowed to bring only one little suitcase of clothes. She and her family must leave everything behind. They travel four days and nights through the desert, hiding in a truck. When they finally arrive in Jordan, Nora is terrified. After months she begins to feel safe, she makes new friends and even finds a new kitten… Nora dares to dream again about having a future in which her love for drawing plays a major role. Her future Art Academy for girls will be called ‘Art Forever’. And Nora will be its headmaster in a peaceful Syria.

Episode 9 Under the stars I felt at home
Ilia is homesick, he longs for everything that used to make him beam with pleasure. Even though he was born in the war, his life was almost normal in Afghanistan. He lived in a big house together with his father, mother, brothers and sister. He had many friends, went to school en had money to buy toys. Then the Taliban killed his brother and grandfather. And everything changed forever. Now Ilia is living in the Netherlands, along with his sick mother, in a room as small as a closet. The other family members are not allowed to stay with them. Living in an asylum seekers’ home is downright rotten, Ilia feels. And he wants to show this to other children. He is afraid of being sent back to Afghanistan where the Taliban know where to find him. And he misses his father who is homeless and wandering about. Ilia really wants to see him but how do you do that without money for a train ticket and only very occasionally WiFi?

Episode 10 Gabriel reports on the World Cup
Brazilian boy Gabriël Matos is still very young when he learns that the 2014 World Cup will be held in his home country. He couldn’t know his life would be turned upside down by then. To transport hundreds of thousands supporters to the football stadium, a new rail line is being developed straight through his neighbourhood. Houses are being demolished, entire families are forced to move and even the children’s local football pitch will soon disappear. For Gabriël this is a nightmare. He is angry at the inequality in his city and puts self-made footage of bulldozers tearing down his neighbourhood on a blog. By becoming a journalist he tries to stand up for his rights. Through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Gabriel we get a glimpse of another side of the World Cup, which is miles away from what FIFA would like us to see.

Episode 11 Haiduc
His nickname ‘Haiduc’ means gangster and it matches Nicu’s tough character. He lives in a rough world; he ran away from home aged seven, spent years literally underground, in the sewers of Bucharest, and is addicted to drugs. Now he lives with Raluca. She keeps an eye on boys who, just like Nicu, came from the streets. With her he has a bed and is given meals. But the drugs have all but ruined his body and he has to decide: to stop or to get even worse. ‘Haiduc’ is about the right to be healthy and have a safe home.

Episode 12 Sprinkles 4-ever!
Nicky (12) is poor. Her mother is unemployed en does her weekly grocery shopping at a food bank. Sometimes Nicky is being bullied because she is poor. Because when you are poor, there is little money for new clothes or a cool birthday present. But Nicky is still pretty happy. She is creative and enjoys the little things in live. Like helping out other people with her family. Nicky decides to join a demonstration against poverty to show that you shouldn’t be ashamed of being poor. ‘Sprinkles 4 ever!’ is about the right to grow up in a financially stable environment: enough food and drink, clothing and a warm and safe home.

Episode 13 Sisi and Wanwan
The first years little Sisi and Wanwan spend in a Chinese orphanage were though. They don’t get any attention, are hungry and nobody understands why they don’t talk. Living in The Netherlands reveals that the twin sisters have poor vision and hearing problems. Sisi and Wanwan get help, and amazingly it turns out that they can now even play the harp! The girls find it difficult to understand that they got a lot of opportunities compared to other Chinese orphans of the same age, who nowadays can’t get adopted anymore. This winter the twins travel through their village playing their harp to raise money for their Chinese peers.  ‘Listen to this!’ is about the right to be adopted if there is no one else who can take good care of you.

Episode 14 The feet of Manuela Solis Velasquez
Manuela from Guatemala is always in her room staring at the ceiling. She dreams of going to school but because of her disformed feet, this is impossible. Her big sister takes care of her since their mother is far away in the US, working to send money back home. Soon, the situation is going to change as she has a surgery planned ahead. Finally, she will able to walk and run like all the other kids around her!!

Episode 15 No Sugar
Michelle dislikes the fact that she is a little heavier than the girls around her but doesn’t want to get too skinny like her twin-sister. This feeling all started because she was bullied at school about her large size and consequently lost confidence in herself. Will she be able to lose weight and have the courage to go to the swimming pool in bikini?

Episode 16 A Year without my Parents
‘Bye-bye mom and dad. I miss you a lot but tomorrow when I turn 12, I will tell you everything about my life here’. Tareq has fled from Syria because of the war and left everyone in his family behind. Finally in Europe, he enters a new chapter of his life. Will he find happiness and peace in the Netherlands or was it a huge mistake to leave everyone behind? Was there ever an option to stay with his family?

Episode 17 NEEDED: A House for Serayah
It was impossible for Serayah to stay home any longer. Since her mother passed away, her father gave up on raising the children. Serayah is now placed in a host-family, where she cannot stay longer either because the court doesn’t allow her to. Where is the place where she feels most comfortable at? Would it be an option to seek help at her relatives? Will she ever find a place she can call home?

Episode 18 Guillaumes wonder world
‘’I wanna live here!’’ shouts Guillame who walks around in the Alice in Wonderland-like Children books museum located in the Netherlands. In Bonaire, where he lives, there are not this many books and children rarely read. Guillame is the contrary and loves books. He is planning to write a book about ‘’life under the sea’’ and aims to teach his friends in Bonaire how fun books can be. Will he succeed?

Episode 19 Hotspot
Ferry lives in the middle of the nature in a vacation-park which is a dream for many children. Surprisingly Ferry hates his living-situation. He prefers to live in a house with play with friends on streets and go to school. Together with his mom, he had to flee from his country because it was too dangerous back home. His best friend Coen might leave the park soon. How will he survive without him? Will their friendship continue even when they live far away from each other?

Episode 20 I am not afraid of soldiers
Soldiers who throw tear gas towards you, keep an eye on you every day and enter your house and take away your brother; Yazan has experienced all of it. He lives in a refugee camp in Palestine which is surrounded by high walls. The Israeli soldiers at the walls don’t bother to listen to what the children of the camp have to say. Yazan therefore decides to make a poster and tell his story to the soldiers. Will this have any effect on the soldiers? Will he succeed in this dangerous mission?

Episode 21 SOS Friendship 
‘’They don’t come to bother us. They are human too with a heart and a soul’’ says the 12-year-old Letizia about the boot refugees who arrive at the coast of Sicily on a daily basis. Some of the refugees are young children on their own and Letizia and her family welcomes them to their home. The refugee children tell Letizia amazing stories and they become friends in no time. Letizia tells the whole nation to follow her footsteps.  ‘In the end, we are all friends!’’

Season 2016

Episode 1 Spotlight on Merna

The 11 year-old Iraqi/Christian Merna, stole the show at the blind auditions of the first edition of The Voice Kids Arab. Millions of people all over the world witnessed Merna singing a song respresenting her people who suffer from war violence in the Middle East. The song also told the story of the many refugee children whom she is one of.

Two years ago, Merna fled to Libanon with her parents and brothers. Since then, she is waiting for permission to enter a country where they can stay and build a new future. For Merna, this means a place where she can go to school and make new friends.

‘Spotlight on Merna’ is a feel-good film, in spite of the situation Merna has been placed in as a refugee. The story reveals a painful contradiction: her uncertain life as an anonym refugee in Libanon and her life in de spotlight thanks to her achievement as a finalist of The Voice Kids Arab.

Episode 2 Dreams about my Father

Damian has lived with his grandfather and grandmother for his entire life. His father passed away when he was on holidays in Cuba when Damian was four years old. With his mother, he has almost no contact and for Damian, his grandparents feel like his real parents. But he does miss his father sometimes, who he wishes could have gotten to know beter. By building rockets and hacking computers, he triest to get closer to his father in his own way, but how do you do this when this person no longer lives?

Episode 3 Chickens for Kimaru

A couple of month ago, the father of the ten-years-old Kimaru passed away and now it is even more difficult for him to keep his head above the water. He lives together with his mother and little sisters in the slums of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Kimaru does his best at school because he knows that good education will make him successful in the future. Unfortunately, his mother can no longer afford his school fee and Kimaru is kicked out of school; something that happens often to children living in the slums. One day, aunt Ursula comes to visit the family and brings Kimaru a box of chickens as a surprise. If all goes well, the chickens will soon start laying eggs every day, and Kimaru will be able earn 15 euro a month. This will supplement his family’s income and will be enough for Kimaru to go to school again. But rearing chicks is not easy at all for a city boy like Kimaru. Will he succeed in starting a small business in eggs to help meet his school fees?

Episode 4 Jesser and the Sugarcane

Jesser lives in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua, in the middle of where sugarcanes are produced. The wooden houses en huts in this area are in poor condition because it is built on dusty and heated ground. Fields of sugarcane cover up the area.

Jesser’s father is sick and suffers from severe kidney failure, like many other men in the village who cut sugarcanes. Unfortunately, there is no other work. Jesser is very scared that he might lose his father and knows that this might happen if he goes to work in de fields again. At the same time, he also understands that without his father working, his family won’t be able to afford food. He, as the eldest son, will probably have to do the same work as his father in the future. Jesser wants to change his faith and is trying his utmost best to plan another future for himself. Will he ever succeed?

Episode 5 Safia’s Summer

Safia lives in a refugee center and she has been waiting her entire life. First, she had to wait back home in Libya where she was not allowed to go outside because of the war. Now she is waiting again because she still doesn’t know whether she can stay in the Netherlands where she is seeking asylum with her family. Safia is tired of waiting and feels lonely. All her friends at the center have left and without them the summer holidays feel endless. Safia tries to keep herself together by drawing, hoping that she will be replaced to a center where there are more refugee children. Safia knows she is strong. But when will my life start again, she thinks out loud.

Episode 6 My Body, My Life

Sabina (12) belongs to the Masai-tribe in Kenya, an ethnic group full of colorful rituals that are lasting for centuries. Although she is proud of her cultural background, there is one rituals she is not too keen on: the circumcision of girls her age.

In many African countries, the transition from girl to woman is considered very important. Often, a big festivity takes place for celebration. The Masai tradition encourages girls to circumcise so that they can become women. The girls, around 12 years-old, are then considered to be ready for marriage and are not allowed to go to school any longer. The practice of circumcision is not only painful but also very dangerous and has even led to death in some cases. Sabina does not want to quit school and is not ready for marriage at all. She prefers to study more and dreams to become a lawyer in order to make sure she and her family have a good life in the future.

Episode 7 The Girl With the White Skin

When Anastazia was six-years-old, she had the flee from her village. It was too dangerous for her to stay with her parents, just like the hundereds of other Albino children who live in a center without their parents or family. Behind the fences of the center it is all safe but the living conditions are not the best. Every single day, they eat beans with rice and Anastazia has never heard of anything like spaghetti or sushi. She sleeps with many other children in one room where it is warm and stuffy. Anastazia hasn’t seen her parents for a long time but there is good news! She heard that they might come visit her very soon!

Episode 8 Pride & Prejudice

The Malian-Dutch Emma tries her utmost best to feel home in the Netherlands, but encouters hardships living in-between two cultures.

Three years ago, Emma (13) moved from Mali to the Netherlands. At primary school, Emma felt different from others: on the outside because of her skin color and on the inside because of her culture. She didn’t know how to fit in, and her classmates began bullying her. Now she goes to middle school and feels much better. She has more courage to express herself and realized that transforming her feelings into songs helps a lot.