Virtual Reality and Vulnerable Communities


An Innovative Advocacy tool promoting Citizen Perspectives in 2015

Clouds Over Sidra and Waves of Grace are viewable in three ways different ways:

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About the Project

The UN Millennium Campaign is a special initiative established by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2002 in order to support peoples’ participation in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and to assist people in holding their governments accountable to their commitments.

The United Nations and stakeholders are currently in the process of developing a new set of global sustainable development goals, which will be adopted by world leaders for the next 15 years. In preparation for their successful launch, the UNMC is committed to involving as many people as possible, building multi-stakeholder partnerships and leveraging cutting-edge communication technologies to ensure a transparent dialogue between world influencers and their constituencies, especially the most marginalized and vulnerable populations. Other projects include MY World and the World We Want 2015.

The aim of this initiative is to bring the experience of vulnerable communities straight to decision makers, thereby creating deeper empathy and understanding.  This is in line with the UNMC’s efforts to elevate the voices of those who often do not have a say, bringing peoples’ voices directly into the decision making process


  • Visit new @mcampaign page about Virtual reality &Vulnerable Groups Project: blog.myworld/ #VR4Dev
  • Want to hear more about @mcampaign #Virtualreality Project? Sign up for notifications
  • “We consistently strive to bring citizens’ perspectives into decision making process any way possible” @MToomeyUN @mcampaign #VR4Dev

About Clouds Over Sidra

Sidra - (c) Toby Fricker UNICEF Jordan
Sidra – (c) Toby Fricker UNICEF Jordan

Clouds over Sidra is a collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign (UNMC), UNICEF Jordan, Samsung,, co-created by Chris Milk and Gabo Arora. It follows the life of a young girl living in the Za’atari Syrian refugee camp in Jordan.

Clouds Over Sidra was initially created to support the United Nations Secretary-General’s MDG Advocacy Group’s call for partnerships to build resilience in vulnerable communities. The UNMC is in the process of rolling out a strategy to ensure that the films are well placed in forums so as to influence both decision makers and the general public. Thus far it has been screened at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Sundance, SXSW, TED, the Third International Humanitarian Appeal for Syria in Kuwait, the World Education Forum and the World Education Summit.


  • I just watched #CloudsOverSidra a new @oculus film about #childrenofsyria by @mcampaign @UNICEFJordan #VR4Dev
  • Step into life of #childrenofsyria by downloading #CloudsOverSidra @UN @mcampaign #VR4Dev

About Waves of Grace

Decontee (c) Gabo Arora

Waves of Grace follows a young woman’s struggle for life amid the Ebola epidemic.  Its premier was planned in conjunction with the United Nations Secretary-General’s International Ebola Recovery Conference, hosted to ensure affected countries receive the support they need to end the epidemic and continue countries on the path to recovery.

The movie is the result of collaboration between the UN Millennium Campaign, and Vice Media, and was created to call attention to the obstacles faced by Ebola survivors.  The movie transports viewers to West Point, Liberia and follows the experience of Decontee Davis, an Ebola survivor who uses her immunity to help others affected by the disease.  The VR experience captures the Liberian tragedy from illness to recovery, mourning to perseverance.  It is part of a larger initiative of the United Nations Millennium Campaign to fight donor fatigue on the world’s most pressing challenges.


Upcoming Plans

The UNMC is now on course to shine a light on the global challenges identified by millions of people around the world by making a series of VR experiences. By sharing these VR experiences the UNMC is searching for partners who similarly hope to inspire change that improves peoples’ lives and creates the world we all want.

As part of distribution strategy, we plan to show the VR series at the following high-level meetings, festivals, and summits. The Virtual Reality Series will be shown in conjunction with the existing assets of the Campaign highlighting peoples’ voices such as the results of the MY World 2015 Global Survey, the World We Want 2015, and the Humans of MY World Communication Campaign.

UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon watches Clouds over Sidra VR film with Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation looking on
UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon watches Clouds over Sidra VR film with Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation looking on


Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General – “Last night I saw a deeply moving video entitled “Clouds over Sidra”. It is an amazing virtual reality production of the starkness of life in the Za’atari Refugee Camp through the eyes of a beautiful young girl by the name of Sidra.”

Mitchell Toomey, Director of UNMC – “At the UN Millennium Campaign, we consistently strive to bring citizens’ perspectives into the decision making process any way possible. By leveraging breakthrough technologies, such as virtual reality, we can create solidarity with those who are normally excluded and overlooked, amplifying their voices and explaining their situations.”

Gabo Arora, Senior Adviser of UNMC – Regarding Clouds Over Sidra – “Virtual reality in the past was previously used almost exclusively in the gaming industry, and most recently in music. This is the first time it is being used for a pressing global issue, and the feeling of presence is immensely powerful. We hope it will create empathy, inspiring decision makers to make commitments towards helping to address the refugee crisis.”

“I want to influence decision makers, first and foremost. I don’t think all of them truly know what [Sidra’s life] is like and, in giving them this experience, I’m hopeful they will be moved to weigh greater the consequences of their decisions,” said Gabo Arora, Senior Adviser to UN and Director of Clouds Over Sidra.

In the Press

Clouds Over sidra - High-Res photo

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