OneMinutesJr workshop on HIV/AIDS in Ukraine - Day 1
Yukie Mokuo, the UNICEF Representative in Ukraine, welcomes the participants of the workshop and tells them about a similar workshop held in the Eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk last year, where children of the same age successfully produced a series of videos on children's rights. "The films are so powerful", Mrs Mokuo says, "that we plan to have the films that you create this week shown at a huge international conference on HIV/AIDS in Vienna next month. And we will definitely also use them in November in a national conference on the same topic here in Ukraine."
More motivation comes from the fact that the films will all go live on the project website www.theoneminutesjr.org and that all participants are automatically registered for the annual OneMinutesJr award.
But back to the workshop: We drive to the Southern outskirts of Kyiv near the Dnjepr river, where the group will stay for the next five days to focus on the development of their film ideas, the filming itself and the final editing of the movies. After showing some examples of past workshops in Ukraine and beyond, the most important part of the workshop starts.
One by one, the participants have to present their ideas to the three trainers from Armenia, the Netherlands and Germany. This process is time-consuming, because most of the time the ideas are not clearly formulated yet and need a lot of soul-searching and additional brainstorming to be ready to be transformed into short documentaries or artistic videos.
The teenagers were selected by UNICEF Ukraine together with the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. They start telling us their stories after we have asked them to be as open and honest as they want to be. The majority of them are HIV-positive and many also have other family members who are infected with the virus. One boy aged 15 almost starts crying when he tells us that his father died a month and a half ago. Another boy lives in an orphanage where he is among a small group of HIV-positive children who have become the target of extensive and sometimes even violent bullying. He also has tears in his eyes when he talks to us.
These are boys and girls in their teenage years. Boys and girls who are about to have their first contact with the opposite sex or who have already passed that point, knowing that they carry the virus. Do they tell anybody? No, they don't. Do they use the necessary protection? Yes, they do, they say and we hope they tell us the truth.
Some of them have maintained or developed a positive outlook on life and we try our best to support this point of view and transport it into their film ideas. We do not want to go out of this workshop with 15 films about Ukrainian children and their negative experiences while living with HIV/AIDS. We want to show and expose the stereotypes, we want to give these children a voice and show others that they all deserve to live a life in dignity and with the same respect that everybody else claims for themselves.
The discussions last until 9:30 PM and only then we have talked to everybody at least once. There are some brilliant ideas already for artistic and abstract films that will not show faces but tell the stories without exposing the children's identity. There is still a lot of work ahead of us, but the start to a OneMinutesJr workshop has seldom been more psychologically challenging than the one today.
Kyiv, Ukraine - June 7, 2010 - Chris Schuepp