A scene from the OneMinutesJr workshop in Ukraine, June 2010.
KYIV, Ukraine / June 11, 2010 - The final day of the workshop here in Ukraine has come and we are hectically working on the subtitles and the last touches to the films. Today in the afternoon, we will watch all the films together for the first time and it is going to be a very powerful presentation.
Looking at the past five days, we have accomplished quite a lot. We have worked with 15 teenagers from Ukraine, many of them HIV-positive, and looked at the topic of the workshop - "Living with HIV/AIDS" - from several different angles. It is obvious that the children want to be treated like all other children, respectfully without having fingers pointed at them all the time.
The stigma issue is still very strong here and it is safe to say that the children are afraid to tell other people about their status. On the other hand, the teenagers seem to be aware of the true values in life much more than other children of their age. They are constantly confronted with the struggle between life and death, with an infection they are not responsible for and cannot put aside.
Participants of the UNICEF OneMinutesJr workshop in Ukraine with their certificates after the final presentation in Kyiv.
One of the guests at the presentation of all 15 films at the UN House in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is Paul Nary, the UNICEF Programme Specialist for HIV/AIDS and Young People's Health and Development from the regional office in Geneva. He is almost lost for words after seeing the films produced by the teenagers: "What can I say...? I am touched, inspired and only wished I could have been part of the entire process! Watching these films made me even more proud to be a part of UNICEF. Congratulations to all these very talented young people!"
All teenagers receive a brandnew photo camera (with film feature, of course) on top of their certificates of participations. Most of them also have tears in their eyes when they have to part. It is pretty obvious that they are also touched and that they feel sorry that they have to leave after a week of hard work and a lot of fun. Alena, one of the older participants, comes up to me and says: "Thank you so much, you have really opened my eyes. When you said after the final presentation that thinking is the most important part in filmmaking, I understood that we all don't think enough here in Ukraine and I want to change that now. We have to think and then act and then we can improve the situation."
Now it is time for me to be speechless. To stand outside the UN House in Kyiv and to look at the children saying good-bye to each other. To think about being HIV-positive, about being HIV-negative. To think about some of the difficult decisions they have to face...