GENEVA, 13 October 2011
- In Vietnam, adults cried as they watched the short film children in their community made about the flash flood that devastated their homes.
In Indonesia, another children’s film beseeched their elders to stop mining sand and coral, and to plant trees along the coast to protect the community from floods and tsunamis.
Across Asia, children are told to listen to and obey adults, but less often are they asked to share opinions and suggestions, so Plan International is bridging the communication gap by training children to make films.
“Using real film shoots, emotional voiceovers and persuasive messages, our voices are indeed being heard,” said 15-year-old La Hoi, one of the young filmmakers from Thuan commune in Vietnam.
Most people consider children helpless victims who need to be protected and rescued, but through the camera, children deliver opinions and suggestions that adults take seriously.
“The traditional way with NGOs is to hire a professional filmmaker to go into these communities… and tell their story,” said Theresa Nguyen, a consultant who trained the children in Thuan.
“These were children telling the story of their community, and these videos are being used as educational material. The children are educating their parents and grandparents about climate change, and that’s what’s unique about this project.”
In Indonesia and the Philippines, children are filming their dialogue with adults and actions to resolve the issues they put forth.
“Flood: A menace to education” tells of a school located on a flood-prone riverbank in the Philippines, and how the parent-teacher association helped students protect their books by building hanging shelves.
“The pock-marked face of Caga-ut” investigates how chromite mining is poisoning a river and exacerbating floods in the Philippines, and stirred ill feelings when screened for the community and government officials.
“Some were angry because it points out some of their misdeeds, and it challenges them to do something,” said 17-year-old Rhea and 15-year-old Dayarana.
Children in Indonesia are using participatory video to monitor post-emergency reconstruction.
“When the community sees the children bringing a camera to film, it speeds up the process,” said Vanda Lengkong, of Plan Indonesia.
“Usually this is done by adults or by experts, but now we are advocating for children to do it themselves. It builds their self-esteem and helps them cope with disaster situations. It makes them cheerful, and helps them to work in a team.”
Indeed for the children, wielding the camera is the best part.
“We liked shooting the most,” said La Hoi. “We have seen many movies on TV, but it was the first time we made a movie ourselves.”