Tsunami disaster – countries in crisis

Photo project in Thailand helps tsunami-affected children tell their stories

UNICEF Image: Thailand: Tsunami InSIGHT Out!
© UNICEF Thailand/2006
At an InSIGHT Out! photo workshop in Thailand, tsunami-affected Muslim girls learn how to use digital cameras. The project also creates an opportunity to help children make friends with others from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

By Robert Few

PHANG NGA, Thailand, December 2006 – Some of the most marginalized children in Thailand’s tsunami-afflicted Phang Nga Province are getting a chance to express themselves through ‘InSIGHT Out!’ – a UNICEF-supported photo project.

The project has provided 77 children between the ages of 10 and 15 with digital cameras and photography training. It is being carried out by a team of Bangkok-based journalists and photographers who initially covered the tsunami disaster in 2004. After seeing the devastation firsthand, these media professionals thought the cameras could help empower children and their communities.

“They’ve got so many people coming to take photos of them, and they never get the chance to do it themselves,” said InSIGHT Out! coordinator Nuttakarn Sumon. “Now we give them the tools.”

UNICEF Image: Thailand: Tsunami InSIGHT Out!
© UNICEF Thailand/2006
Girls involved in InSIGHT Out! in Thailand interview each other for their photo projects and journals.

Mixture of backgrounds

Most of these youths are from either the minority sea gypsy Moken or migrant communities, so they don’t have local residency and can’t go to school. InSIGHT Out! brings together different cultures, allowing children to interact with youths from other religious and ethnic groups, often for the first time.

“Normally, kids from these different communities don’t mix much,” says project manager Jeanne Hallacy. “But they came to understand that they actually have a lot in common whether they are Thai, Burmese or Muslim.”

Win Maw, 12, is the child of two Burmese migrants and didn’t attend school until just last year. With the skills she learned by attending InSIGHT Out!, she won a photo contest organized by National Geographic.

“When it was published, everyone came around to look at the magazine,” said Win. “I felt very proud for my people.”

UNICEF Image: Thailand: Tsunami InSIGHT Out!
© UNICEF Thailand/2006
On a photo shoot, instructor Htun Htun Naing gives guidance to a student, Maung Naing Lin, who is from one of the most excluded and impoverished groups in Thailand, the Burmese migrant workers’ community.

‘The way forward’

InSIGHT Out! staff member Htun Htun Naing is also a Burmese migrant. “In the Burmese community, we were very badly affected by the tsunami. But through this project, the children are showing us the way forward,” he said.

To mark the two-year anniversary of the tsunami, some of the best photos and written journals from the InSIGHT Out! project will travel to Asia, Europe and the United States. A smaller exhibition will be held in the villages where disaster struck, such as the province of Aceh, Indonesia, where a parallel InSIGHT Out! effort is under way.

“Projects like this are an important part of the recovery process,” said UNICEF Thailand Communication Officer Mark Thomas. “The work of the InSIGHT Out! team is helping these children overcome deep feelings of loss and insecurity, and showing them that things can and will get better.”

 

 

 


 


 

 

Video

December 2006:
UNICEF’s Rob McBride reports on InSIGHT Out!, a project designed to help children in Thailand express themselves and cope with the effects of 2004 tsunami.
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December 2006:
UNICEF Representative in Thailand Inese Zalitis discusses the agency's long-term commitment to post-tsunami recovery.
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