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Malaysian teens reveal their lives and concerns through one-minute videos

© UNICEF Malaysia/2009/Nadchatram
Sonia Meyah Ak Selan, 16, a member of the Punan ethnic group in Sarawak, Malaysia, was initially afraid to handle a video camera during the OneMinutesJr workshop in Malacca.

By Indra Kumari Nadchatram

Sunday, 1 March is the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting (ICDB), when broadcasters around the world open their airwaves to programmes by, for and about children. Here is a story about one related initiative.

BANDARAYA MELAKA, Malaysia, 27 February 2009 – Qusyairi Zazili, 15, is a budding environmentalist with a concern he recently revealed at the first ‘OneMinutesJr’ video workshop hosted in Malaysia by UNICEF and the Ministry of Education. 

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“All the air pollution, all the open burning, the global warming, it bothers me. I am trying to do my part to save my world for my future generation,” said Qusyairi, who produced a one-minute video called ‘Gas’. “I created a video about the environment, mostly about air pollution. I don’t think the air we all breathe is clean enough. So I am doing my part to spread the message.”

Newfound confidence

With the historic city of Malacca as an inspirational backdrop, Qusyairi joined 19 teenagers from all corners of the country to learn about using digital media to convey his story.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2009/Tee
Jane Ng Chih Xuan, 16, from Malacca, holds a video camera for the first time in her life and learns how to use it with the help of installation artist Maria Olivia Glebbek, from the OneMinutes Foundation.

Workshop participants included children from the ‘Orang Asli’ indigenous community, ethnic minorities and children living with disabilities – as well as those living in the shadow of HIV and AIDS. During the five-day workshop, children equipped themselves with basic filmmaking skills and a newfound sense of confidence to tackle life’s challenges.

“At the start, I felt so scared. But after the filming, I believe I have achieved something and feel more positive about myself,” said Sonia Meyah Ak Selan, 16. Sonia shared her personal story on loneliness with a one-minute video entitled, ‘A Bad Day’. She was brimming with laughter after only a few days at the workshop.

Language of the younger generation

Digital storytelling captures children’s imagination by engaging young people in a language that is familiar to their generation. Although most of the teens had no filmmaking experience prior to the Malacca workshop, they embraced the opportunity to learn with a sense of wonder and possibility.

“I believe that getting young people involved in broadcasting helps in terms of their self-image and self-worth, making them feel what they have to say is important enough to be on the air,” said UNICEF’s Executive Producer for Children’s Broadcasting Initiatives, Karen Cirillo.

Two artists from the OneMinutes Foundation, Evelien Krijl and Olivia Glebbeek, helped Ms. Cirillo facilitate the training.

“This workshop empowers children to understand the world around them and provides them with opportunities of expressing themselves,” said UNICEF Representative in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Youssouf Oomar. “We keep talking about the right to participation, the right to self-expression. These are means and ways which we can use to engage with children.”

Amplifying youth voices and messages

A selection of the one-minute videos – some poignant, others funny – will be aired by Malaysia’s Media Prima Group 8 TV channel on 1 March to mark the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting. Videos from the workshop will also be submitted to the Dubai International Film Festival, further amplifying youth voices and messages.

Youth reporter Wan Su-Ann, 17, welcomed the chance for her story to be heard. “People always say that teens are meant to be seen and not heard,” she said. “I have the very strong urge to tell people that we are teens, we have our opinions and we want the world to know.”

Speaking in sign language, hearing-impaired Muhammad Syarifuddin bin Mohd Razib, 15, added: “I am deaf, but through video making, I can share my story with others and the world.”




UNICEF correspondent Natacha Ikoli reports on the OneMinutesJr youth video workshop in Malacca, Malaysia.
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