By Aysha Nour
A video workshop gives children and youth in Chad an opportunity to share their experiences and their vision.
N´DJAMENA, Chad, 24 November 2014 – “Lights! Camera! Action! » a confident voice echoes in the backyard of a house in Chad´s capital, N´Djamena. With tousled hair, ripped clothes and makeup to give the appearance of being bruised, 15-year-old Benedicte Dandé is the director, writer and main actress of a 60-second video entitled My reflection.
Benedicte is one of 15 children from different youth associations who have taken part in a OneMinutesJr. video workshop organized by UNICEF Chad. Over the course of six days, children and youth between age 11 and 18 have learned how to handle a camera, write a script and express their views on violence against children.
Despite her good humor, Benedicte has had a hard life. She lost her father right after birth, and years later lost her mother. She admits having lived through very difficult times until her mother’s second marriage, to a man she refers to as her “guardian angel”.
“I met this man who gave me shelter in his centre,” she says. “This man became a father to me.”
The man is pastor Bolngar Domtinet, director of the Foundation of Love for the Education of Children in Need (FAFED, in French). Supported by UNICEF, the centre was established in 1994 with a mission to promote and protect the rights of children and to give them a supportive setting for their well-being and education.
“The centre helps children who are victims of discrimination and abuse. Benedict grew up in the centre. She is a studious girl with a strong character. I’m really proud of her,” Pastor Domtinet says.
Drawing on life experience
Courageous and confident, Benedicte made use of some of her life experiences during the video workshop, writing and directing a well-crafted short film advocating for children´s rights. Thanks to the workshop, she was able to express her views about the violence some girls are exposed to in Chad, particularly orphans.
“I said to myself that it is easier to write a story that one has experienced personally. So I was inspired to write the script loosely based on my own story,” she says. “In my video, Khadijah, a 12-year-old orphan, has been mistreated and is being taken to FAFED.”
“The main two characters in the video are young girls – orphans. One is already living in the centre, and the other one has been brought after being abused,” she continues. “The film connects the life of both girls. The one living in the centre sees her reflection in the newly arrived. They are connected by pain, and that connection makes them as if they were the same person.”
Other films made by the participants have touched on different forms of violence, such as violence against children living with disabilities, violence suffered by refugee and returnee children from the Central African Republic, and child marriage.
Chad has the third-highest rate of child marriage in the world. It is estimated that three out of 10 girls are married before age 15. Female genital mutilation is also a common practice, affecting 2 out of 5 women, according to the 2010 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey.
“Through the OneMinutesJunior, UNICEF´s goal is to encourage the expression and participation of children and young people, with special focus on adolescent girls,” said Bruno Maes, UNICEF Representative in Chad, during the closing ceremony of the workshop. “This platform creates the opportunity for them to make their voices heard by a wide and diverse audience, offer them a space of exchange, encounter and learning.”
TheOneMinutesJr. was established in 2002 by the European Cultural Foundation, The One Minutes Foundation and UNICEF to develop new tools to empower young people and promote social change. Chad is participating for the first time, and the videos made will participate in the CRC@25 video challenge.