OneMinutesJr workshop in Donetsk
The workshop in the Eastern Ukrainian mining-city Donetsk will generate a series of short videos about "child rights" - written, filmed and produced by the children themselves. The eleven girls and seven boys have come from places as far as 24 hours by train away from Donetsk. They come from boarding schools, foster families and regular homes and will work together for the next five days here in Donetsk.
In the morning, introductions kick off the day before the participants and trainers watch the videos produced in another workshop in Ukraine in 2007. The topic back then was "children with disabilities" and again there are children with disabilities here, most of them coming from a boarding school near Kyiv for children with hearing impairments. There is not doubt at all this will be an interesting and creative week with teenagers from so many different backgrounds in one place.
The afternoon sees the first story ideas developing. The topics do not come as a surprise: Neglected children, socially excluded children, children with disabilities. The participants received a copy of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the document that celebrates its 20th birthday in November this year. The films the children and teenagers will produce here are going to be used by UNICEF in Ukraine through the media to raise more awareness for children's rights.
Darina (19) is one of the participants from the boarding school for children with hearing impairments. She has been neglected by her parents for all here life, she says. "I don't know why. They don't pay attention to me at all. Neither to my younger sister. They seem to be completely indifferent about us..." Darina wants to create a film about this, but does not really know how. In the discussion with her, the decisive questions comes up: "Darina, do you want to have children later?" Darina's eyes start glowing and she says: "Yes, of course, I want three babies. It's my dream! I will care for them, I will look after them, I will do everything for them that my mother didn't do for me!" Together we decide that we will film Darina with a baby in her arms, having her tell the story of her life and promising her baby that she will be a good mother.
Vika (18) from Volodymyr-Volynskyy in Western Ukraine has come to Donetsk with her mother and her step-brothers and fellow workshop participants Kevin (13), Yosif (14) and Artem (16). Vika's mother Natalya is busy with the little step-brother Artem (2) most of the time. He is the smallest in the family, the twelfth child. Natalya adopted 10 children - only Vika and her older brother are her own children. "When we went to the orphanage and saw him, I said to my mother: 'Let's take him, nobody else will ever give him a home!'", says Vika. Artem's real mother was tested HIV-positive, but Artem was not tested positive in the last two years. Still, he suffers from strabismus ("crooked eyes") and will have to undergo surgery when he grows up a little bit. Vika's film will be about Artem. And about her mother. A woman who has given ten children a new home - Vika's OneMinutesJr video will be dedicated to her.
Chris Schuepp - Donetsk, Ukraine - August 17, 2009