Films directed by children living on the streets in Bangladesh catalyse change
Public empathy swells after filmmaking workshops help children tell their own stories from the streets
In a voice resonating deep pain, he tells us, “My father comes home drunk every day, and beats my mom, me, and my sister.” He continues to carry the weight of those traumatic memories even after running away and taking the train to Dhaka in search of a better life.
Sharif's film is one of the remarkable narratives that emerged from a five-day workshop on filmmaking organized by UNICEF and facilitated by The One Minutes Foundation. The initiative is helping children’s voices be heard and inspiring the public to empathise after the children’s films were released on social media.
Watch all the films here.
Filmmaking helps amplify children’s voices
According to a recent UNICEF report, children living on the streets in Bangladesh face shocking levels of deprivation and vulnerability. One in every three of these children live and sleep in public or open spaces (streets, stations, terminals, fields, and parks) without the most basic amenities - exposed to violence, exploitation, and with limited access to vital services, such as healthcare.
Amidst these challenges, the One Minutes Jr. workshop offered a beacon of hope, providing a creative platform for children living on the streets in Dhaka to share their untold stories and struggles, amplifying their voices with unwavering determination.
In the workshops, the children delved into and harnessed their experiences. They learned the art of video making, from operating a camera to developing a script and storyboarding to editing their own footage. Under the guidance of caring international facilitators, they discovered the power of their own narratives, expressed themselves creatively and brought their stories to life, in the form of one-minute-long films.
“Working with the children in Dhaka was a very special experience. It is remarkable to see how quickly children learn and master the art of video making,” says Misha De Ridder, one of the facilitators at the workshop, as he talked about the difficult themes children worked with, child labour, abuse, and broken families among some of them.
Like Sharif, 13-year-old Rokon’s* film, "Shadow of Father's Love," treads on similar themes and delves into the traumatic experience of a father's abandonment through the medium of shadow puppetry. Amidst the darkness, the love and support of his mother guides him, casting a ray of light through the shadows.
More than 80 per cent of children living on the streets also reported facing abuse by pedestrians, just like 13-year-old Khadija. Khadija, a young girl who once saw her life on the streets devoid of colour, expressed her journey through her film "Harassment." The film captures her struggle on facing violence on the streets, and how intervention and support from social workers brought colour back into her greyscale life.
Improving the lives of children on the streets
UNICEF closely collaborates with Bangladesh's Department of Social Services (DSS) to address the critical needs of street children, helping reunite these children with their families, facilitate their school enrolment, and connecting them to the necessary services. UNICEF-supported Child Protection Service Hubs across Bangladesh act as safe spaces where social workers working with the DSS provide crucial support to street children, offering free meals, a secure resting place, counselling services, and opportunities for play and learning with other children.
As UNICEF Bangladesh continues to advocate for the rights of all children, the One Minute Jr. workshops stand as a testament to the transformative power of audio-visual communication in amplifying the voices of children living on the streets but also serve as catalysts for change, inspiring empathy and support on the need for a more inclusive society that protects and supports every child.
*Sharif and Rokon’s names have been changed to protect their identity.
One Minutes Jr. Dhaka Playlist: https://uni.cf/3NYFiyr