Children with Cameras in Hands Leading Kyrgyzstan toward a Peaceful Future

The GPPAC project "Cameras in Hand: transformation and empowerment of Kyrgyzstani girls and boys" started in February 2018 in 4 regions of Kyrgyzstan. This project is unique due to the innovative use of the participatory video (PV) methodology in peacebuilding. This methodology is an empowering tool which contributes to conflict prevention by creating spaces for dialogue and reconciliation, increasing tolerance and understanding of "the other".

Since the beginning of the project,  Foundation for Tolerance International (FTI), GPPAC regional secretariat in Central Asia and implementing partner of the project in Kyrgyzstan, has introduced the PV methodology in series of training sessions for 128 children and 32 teachers in 16 schools. The FTI staff was trained in PV methodology by one of its creators, Clive Robertson from the Real Time Video (UK) and GPPAC member Middle East Nonviolence and Democracy (MEND) from Palestine.

FTI has already trained Kyrgyzstani children in conflict analysis; they learned about tolerance and stereotypical thinking. During the summer holidays, the project participants will work on the ideas for theirs first movies which they will start filming in the new academic year.

"This project is teaching school children to work in diverse multiethnic groups, to produce videos through which they can showcase the social problems in their communities. I am sure that the project participants will become the agents of positive change, peace and tolerance" - Mr. Erkin Kochkarov, the manager of the project in the Foundation for Tolerance International.

Another innovative element of the project is the integration of PV with social media campaigning and the feedback loops with decision-makers. All the produced videos are planned to be presented to public through local TV channels and social media. Such activities empower young people, even the most marginalized ones, and allow them to raise their voices and influence the decision-making processes in their communities.

Participatory Video Kyrgyzstan
Our participatory video project 'Cameras in Hand' in Kyrgyzstan empowers Kyrgyzstani youth to become agents of change, and bridge social, gender, and ethnic divides.

Even though the engagements with the decision-makers will start in autumn, the project has already attracted the attention of some of them. For example, Mr. Rafykzhan Ergashev, head of local self-government in Osh region, mentioned: "Such a project that broadens the rights and possibilities of youth was very much needed in our community as we didn't have tools to keep the young people engaged after classes. Now they will make videos about their vision of existing problems, thereby contributing to their solution." 

Already during its first months, the project started to have a real human impact on its participants and their communities. In one of the villages, the population is divided into brigades (groups of people in agricultural households with common labour tasks). Children, following an example of adults, divide themselves into their own brigades and are in constant conflict with each other. After just two months of participation in the project, boys and girls from different brigades are breaking these barriers, conducting mini-trainings for their peers on tolerance, and finding common interests understanding that their power is in unity.

One of the pupils participating in the project said: "We would like to make a movie about the fact that division of teenagers according to districts and streets leads to negative consequences."

The professional film-making equipment used in the project has been donated to participating schools, which contributes to the sustainability and further development of the peacebuilding efforts after the end of the project. Moreover, the sustainability of the project will be maintained by its active participants. One of them, a pupil from Jalal-Abad, mentioned: "I am happy that I got the opportunity to acquire new skills and knowledge, to share my ideas, to try to change the life of my city. I would like that knowledge and skills acquired in this project are transmitted also to other children after the end of the project."

The project is implemented by the Foundation for Tolerance International in partnership with the GPPAC (Global Partnership for Conflict Prevention) with the financial support of the UN Peacebuilding Fund.

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