"How is it possible to create stories through photos?", Basanti asked on the very first day of Digital Storytelling Workshop. Her question echoed the questions 16 girls had in their mind when they gathered for five days in Kapilvastu to learn to tell stories happening around them.
It was the first day of the five-day residential Digital Storytelling Workshop organised for girls of 13 to 18 years from Kapilvastu. It was a sequel of 'Girls with Cameras' workshop that was held in four districts, including Kapilvastu on 9 September to 17 September 2016. The purpose of the 'Girls With Cameras' workshop was to help the girls acquire basic photography skills, build confidence, and look at the world through their unique lens. "After the last year's workshop, I started clicking pictures of different events of my community, and put up a photo exhibition in my school along with my friends", said Nisha, 15.
This year, with the Digital Storytelling Workshop, the girls would go beyond just taking photos – they would tell stories of their lives and issues they face as children. In collaboration with Photo Circle, Nepal's Every Last Child campaign team organised Digital Storytelling Workshops in Kapilvastu from 9 November to 14 November, 2017. It introduced the participants to a variety of visual styles and languages and they were mentored to work on production of one single visual story during the allocated production time. The workshop was designed to be field-based and interactive which allowed the participants to work closely with the facilitators and to have experiential learning.
They went to the nearby areas on second and third days to click pictures and generate ideas for creating original digital stories that are close to their hearts. The facilitators also helped them to do brainstorming and discussing in their respective teams to come up with story boards. On the fourth day, the participants went to their respective communities to capture stories through photography.
Thirteen-year-old Sadhika came back with a heart touching story of Reena – a young girl, age 16, who lost her leg in an accident. She not only captured the difficult life she lives but also showed how she fought against those difficulties and turned her life around.
Similarly, Sabita (16) captured her families' daily life. Her story showcased her mother and brothers who have mental health issues and her father who relentlessly takes care of them. Other participants came up with stories on sugarcane farming, livelihood through goat farming, gender disparities, socialization of children in the community, and girls in school, among others.
"I learned to click pictures in the last year's workshop, and this workshop has helped me to create stories of my family and my community through photography", said Pushpa (17).
The participants were guided through the process of introspection, critical thinking and analysis of pictures they would made. "It was not an easy task as we had to do so much work in limited time", claimed Deepa (16).
On the last day of the workshop, eleven digital stories produced by the girls were presented to the audience comprising of staff of partner organizations, family members, community people and local journalists. The Mayor of Kapilvastu Municipality came over to encourage the girls and also handed over the prizes to the three best teams. In his closing remarks, the Mayor made a commitment to provide more opportunities to the girls and encouraged them to keep telling stories through photos to get the attention of the Government and the community.
The new group of storytellers left the workshop promising to make more stories of their realities. The girls also plan to share this new knowledge and skill with other children.
"I aspire to become a photo journalist so that I can make government and people realise about different social issues affecting girls/women", stated Neelam (15).
To help the girls, including Neelam to achieve their dreams, Save the Children will continue its 'Every Last Child' Campaign's thematic focus on "Marginalized Girls" and will design and roll out creative projects in 2018 and beyond.