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OneMinutesJr workshop in Ust-Kamenogorsk - Day 1

by Chris Schuepp

UST-KAMENOGORSK, Kazakhstan, 3 September 2012 - 16 teenagers from East Kazakhstan are meeting this week to participate in a OneMinutesJr video workshop. They will write, film and edit short movies around the topic "disaster risk reduction".

Two young participants fro East Kazakhstan at the opening of the OneMinutesJr workshop in Ust-Kamenogorsk. - UNICEF / Chris Schuepp / 2012

East Kazakhstan is prone to natural disasters. While the earthquake danger in the country is higher in the Almaty region in the South, the border-region with Russia, China and Mongolia frequently witnesses extreme temperatures in the winter, flooding, landslides and wild fires in the summer. In addition to that, Semipalatinsk and Ust-Kamenogorsk were closed cities during the Soviet times and testing grounds for nuclear materials. Kazakhstan remains one of most prolific uranium providers in the world with the East of the country being the center of the heavy industry.

Against this backdrop, we start the workshop with eight boys and eight girls aged 14 to 17 in School No. 45 in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Half of the participants are local children from Ust-Kamenogorsk, the others have arrived from Semipalatinsk, a three hour drive from here.

After mutual introductions, we start the workshop with an introduction to the topic of the week, disaster risk reduction (DRR). All the participants have undergone some DRR training in their schools and some of them have had first-hand experiences, especially with flooding and minor earthquakes.

Learning by watching - participants from Kazakhstan view videos produced by their peers in other countries to get into the right filmmaking mood. - UNICEF / Chris Schuepp / 2012

Tamerlan (16) from Semipalatinsk remembers how a few years ago his whole hometown was covered in smoke from a nearby wildfire. It was impossible to leave the houses and he was scared at that time, still a bit younger than today, because he did not know exactly what to do.

Erkezhan (14) from Ust-Kamenogorsk knows a girl who lost her parents in a flood in 2011 in the Almaty region in the South of the country. It is not exactly sure whether the parents did not have proper information about the imminent danger or whether they simply underestimated it. In any case, the lack of urgency in leaving their village when the water came cost them their lives.

Berik (17) is planning to do a more artistic film. He wants to build a card house from playing cards and then let it collapse, mimicking an earthquake. His question will be: "Why do our construction companies still build shaky houses when they know we live in a region with frequent earthquakes?"

This and many other questions will be raised in the films the children have started developing today. Tomorrow the scripts will be finalized and in the afternoon, the shooting of the first films should already begin.



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