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EYE SEE Mali: Empowering Marginalized Children through Photography

© UNICEF/MLIA2011/Bintou Dembele
Maladon Keita, 10, reviews images with EYE SEE youth photo workshop facilitator Giacomo Pirozzi in the neighbourhood of Hamadallaye in Bamako, the capital.

Photography is a way to give young people a voice and progressively allow them to be change agents in their families and their country," noted Marcel Rudasingwa, UNICEF Representative in Mali.

BAMAKO, Mali, 25 April 2011 – Hawa Coulibaly, 16, has spent the last nine months training to become a tailor, but she is also interested in photography as a profession. “By the end of the training, I hope I will know how to take pictures of my designs,” she confesses softly on the first day of the EYE SEE workshop.

Hawa is one of twenty-one children, girls and boys ages 10-18, who participated in a five-day youth photo workshop held 13-17 April in Bamako. Led by international photographer Giacomo Pirozzi, the session was the seventh in the EYE SEE series, an initiative that originated as an outlet for youth affected by the October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan.

EYE SEE in Mali is made possible in partnership between UNICEF Mali and Sony Corporation, facilitated by the Japan Committee for UNICEF, and implemented by local partners the Association of Child and Youth Workers (AEJT) and Centre for the Promotion of Training in Photography (CFP).

“It is our pleasure to provide tools and opportunities for the next generation,” said Hidemi Tomita, General Manager of Sony’s Corporate Social Responsibility Department. “This year, we will have a series of workshops in Mali and we are happy that this excitement will multiply among children.”

© UNICEF/MLIA2011/Mamadou Coulibaly
Salif, 11, works as a blacksmith at Marché de Medina Koura, in Bamako, the capital. In this local artisan market, where metal is melted and shaped to make tools, many children can be found working in toxic and dangerous conditions.

Telling stories and relying messages

Taking place at CFP, the training introduced ten girls and ten boys to photography while strengthening their social skills and offering a safe space for them to learn about their rights. Students were able to familiarize themselves with a camera, photography techniques and the activities of field reporting.

“In these workshops, students do not just learn how to use cameras, but how to tell stories and relate the scene to an audience,” said Mr. Pirozzi, who has conducted photographic workshops for youth in countries around the world. “They choose the themes and the locations. They are aware of what is going on in their communities.”

Workshop participants were chosen by local associations working with and for vulnerable children. In addition to AEJT, students were selected from the National Children's Parliament (PNE), Association for the Promotion of Child and Youth Communicators (APEJC), Community Social Centres (CEC), Samu Social, Kanuya and Sigiya-ton.

Amadou Keita, 15, is an active delegate in PNE. He is focused on becoming an advocate for the protection of child rights. “I want to take photos that document how children’s rights are abused,” he asserted during the workshop.

‘Photography is a way to give young people a voice’

The CFP will continue the participatory programme with a new group of students who will meet for two hours every Saturday through the end of year. The longer programme will touch on digital photography, news journalism, copyright and ownership, writing stories, producing images for exhibition and using social media.

Two exhibitions of images from the workshops will be held in Mali. The first will open in conjunction with the Day of the African Child on 16 June 2011. The second exhibition will tour Bamako as a mobile exhibit during the African Encounters Photography Biennial at the end of the year. Another exhibition is to be schedule in Tokyo.



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