South African youth take to the streets to capture climate change effects
In the first week of December 2009 eighteen young people from three of South Africa’s provinces took part in a photography workshop with renowned UNICEF photographer, Giacomo Pirozzi. The theme for this intensive five day training was climate change and followed on the momentum established by the global children’s climate conference which took place from November 28th to December 4th, and spanned the period during which world leaders gathered in Copenhagen for the international forum on climate change.
The South African workshop, which took place among the scenic hills of Muldersdrift, organised by UNICEF and sponsored by Sony Corporation, was the latest in a series of photography trainings for youth, under the title of “Eye See.” Previous workshops have taken place in Madagascar, Rwanda, Liberia and Pakistan. Through their training in photo-reportage skills young people broaden their understanding of issues that affect them and are equipped to advocate for change at their schools, homes and in their communities.
During the first two days of the workshop the participants learnt basic photography skills and the qualities that make for a prize-winning and powerful picture. They were also introduced to the theme of climate change and spent an afternoon discussing its effects on their own lives. Bright and early on the third day, the 18 young people, armed with cameras and excitement, visited communities around Johannesburg to capture their images and speak with community members about environmental issues. The learners also convened a meeting to compose an action plan of activities which they can do to mitigate the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.
Thabang Chakale and Zwelakhe Kanyile, two friends from Thembisa, Gauteng, plan to return to their community with the goal of educating young children about climate change, to ensure that they grow into responsible adults who look after their surroundings. “You need a good foundation to build a house. Dealing with problems of climate change starts with education,” says Thabang.
Observing how the trainees took cameras and notebooks out into the community to capture relevant images and record experiences Sony Corporation Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Manager, Mitsu Shippee said, “Sony Corporation welcomes how the Eye See training offers young people a chance to engage with these crucial issues in a powerful way, while imparting an important communication skill with which they can go forward in the future.”
“UNICEF has long believed in the power of young people to make the changes they believe in. I am confident that these young environmentalists will return home with new skills and knowledge and boundless energy that they will apply in the school or community-based clubs they belong to, such as Girl’s and Boy’s Education Movement (G/BEM) clubs,” says Nokuthula Prusent, Adolescent Development Specialist at UNICEF South Africa.
An exhibition of the workshop photographs is being planned for the first quarter of 2010.