OneMinutesJr workshop in Suva, Fiji - Day One
Fiji, 18 January 2010 - 20 teenagers from Fiji have gathered in the UNICEF workshop room in Suva on this Monday morning to start the first OneMinutesJr workshop in the year 2010. They will work together for the next five days and create a series of 60-second films on children's rights and the issues closest to their hearts.
The workshop is officially opened by Dr. Isiye Ndombi, the UNICEF Representative in Fiji. While addressing the young people, Dr. Ndombi explains what he expects of the process: "In a way, we want you to become part of the UNICEF team. You have the right to grow up in dignity and this workshop gives you a chance to articulate your opinions on children's rights. It's a great opportunity for you to tell your stories and to open other people's eyes."
And after a short round of introductions from the trainers and the children, the eye-opening starts...
The girls seem to have more courage and so the first four participants who present their stories individually to the two trainers are all girls. Two of them were sexually abused by relatives when they were younger. They have not told many people about this, but they have both turned 18 now and are ready to make their real life stories the topic of their films. One of them says to us: "It happened to me when I was only four years old. I could not tell anybody for so long. First I suffered physically and then I went through hell psychologically. I ended up hating myself, but I just couldn't get out of it."
Lora (15) is next and while her story does not sound so bad at the beginning, she still starts crying when she talks about her life. "My father left us and I am alone with my mother and my two younger brothers. The only income for the family comes from the farming that my mother does. But it is very hard for her. I am the oldest child and it is my responsibility to support my family."
It is obvious that this responsibility puts a huge weight on her shoulders. At 15, Lora does not seem to be up for the challenge, but there is no choice for her really. She has to face the hardship and support her family.
Joe-Lyn (17) and her family have been suffering under the recent financial crisis. Her parents are having a really hard time paying for the bus fare for Joe-Lyn and her younger brother to go to school every day. The bus tickets used to be around 20 Fiji Dollars per month, but now they are up to 50 Fiji Dollars. The parents still want to send their children to school, but family outings on the weekends and other entertainment for the children have been cut.
While there are more stories about sexual abuse coming from other girls at the workshop, many of the boys tell us about their experiences with child labour, another problem that seems to be high on the agenda here in Fiji. It is already clear now that it will be very interesting to see the stories develop into proper films over the next four days.
Suva, Fiji - January 18, 2010 - Chris Schuepp