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Raising hope.

Bringing together a drug awareness activist and former addict with a film director has resulted in Amal (Arabic for 'hope'), a drug awareness tour around the world on foot and a documentary following the incredible journey - a first of its kind for Oman.

Amal is a project with seeds sown earlier in September 2012 when Helmi al Kindi, an activist raising awareness on drugs for the last six years, met filmmaker Rami Murtada a few weeks after his arrival in Oman. Rami, founder and director of Wolf Production, came to Oman as a consultant for the Oman Film Society. When the two met, Helmi proposed to Rami an idea for a film exploring his life, addiction, recovery, social work and walks raising awareness on drug addiction.

"When I heard his story, I thought there was a more important idea. A few days passed and I studied the possibilities, and the idea for Amal came to me, an Omani international awareness project on drug abuse, which will be specifically focused to Helmi's work," Rami said. "Because he definitely is a distinguished person, it's important to shed light on him, not for fame, but because he is a person able to change the thoughts of the youth and he is effective with the youth he deals with."

"Rami's idea was more long term. He saw the idea from a wider angle while I was fixed in one point of view," Helmi said.

He will conduct a tour around the world for a year, travelling mostly on foot, covering urban and rural areas alike. He will visit areas with low and high levels of drug trafficking and drug abuse, conducting talks and raising awareness. All the while, the Wolf Production team, under the direction of Rami, will follow his every step for a documentary on the yearlong journey titled Amal. The team is set to take off by the end of December this year.

Following the documentary will also be a film reflecting Helmi's life story and his experiences from his childhood to adulthood, his fight with addiction and efforts in raising awareness. "He was able to be persistent and stop the habit. It was his decision to stop, and he became a volunteer to raise awareness for the cause," Rami said, in an attempt to shed light on Helmi's inspirational story.

The journey will first cover areas in the sultanate for around two months, followed by areas in the Arabian Gulf. Helmi will then move towards East Asia, from China to Australia, then towards South Africa, South America, North America, Europe and make his way back through the Middle East. The journey will also have specific focus on countries which have high drug abuse and trafficking.

The team traveling with Helmi will include four doctors, five in the production team including Rami, two physical trainers and a media consultant. The tour will not only hold Helmi's lectures, but also a promotional documentary on tourism in Oman as well as a travelling trade show selling Omani handicrafts to promote Omani culture. The team will also be joined by a group from Sweden, an international organisation protecting children from early addiction, where Helmi serves as an international consultant.

"When we visit communities, especially the youth, they are drawn to physical activities. So instead of just sitting and giving them lectures, we turn their attention towards something sporting. In addition to these lectures and scientific information, we will allow people to feel more open to talk about drug use," Helmi explained.

He has held walks in different areas around Oman where donations raised were given to help treat addicts. He is currently training for the tour, committing to an early morning routine of exercise with his trainers. Rami and Helmi expect that the film will be completed two years after Helmi sets off on the tour around the world.

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:May 8, 2014
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