Private Project

Fatima, a life of activist

Fatima Maher and her family, who arrived in Belgium almost 60 years ago, have built a vibrant life despite the challenges. From music to activism, education to solidarity, she has overcome obstacles and fought against discrimination. Her commitment to the revitalisation of Schaerbeek, her social catering service and her humanitarian work define her. An honorary citizen since February 2021, her legacy is one of unity and generosity.

  • Mohammed Dabani
  • Khadija Belkaid
  • Project Title (Original Language):
    Fatima une vie de militante
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 2, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    10,000 EUR
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Mohammed Dabani

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« Al waada » a music video 2017-Morocco
« Tkharbichate" a documentary 2018- Morocco
« Salima » a short film 2018-Morocco
« Lost » a short film 2020-UK
« Fatima , A life of an activist» a documentary 2022-Belgium

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Director Statement

Fatima's educational journey was marked by determination and support. After a brief stint in vocational sewing, a perceptive teacher encouraged her to transition to a general curriculum, leading to her successful completion of the secondary school. This was a pivotal moment, both personally and in her emergence as an anti-discrimination advocate.

The family's move to Schaerbeek in 1977 coincided with a significant shift in the political landscape. Despite challenges and xenophobia from local leaders, Fatima and fellow residents united to revitalize their neighborhood through the 'Schaerbeek Plage' neighborhood committee, supported by the 'Bouillon de cultureS' organization.

This grassroots movement extended into social integration, educational support, and a deep commitment to combating discrimination and promoting citizenship. The result was the establishment of a community center, Parc du Rasquinet, and the initiation of impactful events like the 'Super Neighbors' program at the Schaerbeek Halls.

In her professional life, Fatima took on various jobs, including childcare, all while volunteering for the organization of socio-cultural events. She encouraged families to explore Belgium through 'family camps,' breaking down initial prejudices and fostering a multicultural sense of community.

In 2000, she spearheaded the 'Sésam' project, a social economy catering service specializing in world cuisine. To further professionalize the service, Fatima returned to school and earned a high distinction in French gourmet cuisine. Instead of joining a Michelin-starred restaurant, she channeled her culinary talents into social endeavors, providing opportunities for marginalized individuals.

Her commitment extended beyond her career, with her husband, Larbi, also actively participating in community projects. Together, they exemplified the power of solidarity.

In retirement, Fatima remained dedicated to community and international aid through her 'Héritage de Femmes' initiative, demonstrating a lifelong commitment to helping others. She continued to be a source of inspiration and wisdom, with local authorities recognizing her as a 'Citizen of Honor' in 2021 for her unwavering dedication to civic engagement and social cohesion.

Fatima's life story serves as an inspiring example of how one person's resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to community can create positive change and foster a more inclusive society."