Hala and her team members conducting interviews in the streets of Amman, Jordan.
By Najwa Mekki
AMMAN, Jordan, 31 May 2007 – Hala, 13, is a student in Grade 8 at a school in Amman. She is also a budding television journalist with significant experience for someone her age.
Hala’s first step into the media world came in 2004 when she was selected to take part in a television programme as part of Jordan’s participation in the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB).
With a group of young people her age, she identified a number of issues affecting children – namely sports, violence and HIV/AIDS – and organized talk shows around them, with field reports and expert interviews.
The experience has been a real eye-opener for Hala. “I didn’t know that there were people in our society suffering so much,” she says. “I now often talk to my friends about things like HIV/AIDS and violence against children. I try to raise their awareness to the need for us to help young people like us.”
A UNICEF-supported workshop introduced Khaled, who knew nothing about filmmaking, to the world of documentaries.
Because of her knowledge and motivation, Hala was selected to participate in a workshop on documentary filmmaking, funded by UNICEF Jordan and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency in cooperation with the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre.
“The main objective of this workshop is to strengthen the media skills of a team of children and adolescents who participated in previous ICDB programmes,” says UNICEF Adolescents Project Officer Jumana Haj Ahmad. “We want to make sure that these children practice their passion for journalism. We also want their voices to be heard all year round, not just on one annual occasion.”
Children who participated in the workshop learned about the different production stages of a documentary film. The results: six documentaries that will be aired on television by the end of the year, covering themes such as HIV/AIDS, the relationship between boys and girls in Jordanian society, customs and traditions, and education.
Young people as change agents
Khaled, 15, also took part in the training. His documentary, ‘Who’s right and who’s wrong’, covers a range of issues such as smoking, pollution, the difference between urban and rural life, and harassment of girls on the streets.
“I knew nothing about films before,” he says, “ but I’m very proud that, thanks to UNICEF, I have a very good idea of how to make one. It has been a great experience for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
For her part, Hala thinks no one understands young people’s concerns like youths themselves, making the documentary film project even more important. “We need to show that children can and should be active participants in the debate on the issues affecting them,” she says. “Children and young people have enormous potential and can be extraordinary agencies for change.”
The experience has been beneficial for Hala at a personal level as well. “I have become much more confident,” she says. “I’m not shy to voice my opinion. I now understand the meaning of dialogue and discussion.”