Saturday, 31 January 2009

Major Project Planning

Full Circle Learning is an educational program applied in schools working with Ngo's all around the world (Lesotho, Ethiopia, Zambia, Panama, Japan, China, India..). An American non profit organization based in California developed the model over a decade as a response to community need following the civil unrest of 1992 in Los Angeles. One of the main goals is to teach young people in developing countries the moral responsibility and accountability of every individual regarding the destiny of the world.
I was able to document for my Borders project how about 800 children and youth in Mokhotlong, a small village in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, participate in the development of their own neighbourhood, addressing big problems in the area like unemployment, alcoholism, poverty, ethnic and cultural prejudice, orphans and HIV. Many stories interconnected and great potential to create a complex multimedia presentation, but still not sure about how to put them together.
I am now both tempted and worried considering the advantages and disadvantages of working with this organization again in Ethiopia for my major project. I have already some contacts and easy access to the One Planet School in Addis Ababa, but still not enough information about their activities and the potential to portrait them in appealing and meaningful images.
Most probably I should start exploring another loose idea that have been at the back of my head for a while, the life and fun of Hispanic communities in London (Mark suggested the big and famous Carnaval del Pueblo for instance), and maybe work on both projects in parallel and play it safe.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Plan B

Working with family in Southafrica for the Borders project wasn't such a good idea after all (conflict of interests!), so I decided to set everything up quickly like being on a real assignment for ten days. Next morning I was going overland straight to Lesotho and contacting some Ngo's on my way. A country within a country.
Travelling at the back of a police van full of sheep through the beautiful landscape of the Sanni Pass, I arrived to Mokhotlong, a remote village in the highlands of the country and the last place in the road from the capital. The initial idea was to show the different faces of life in the middle of nowhere. Patients suffering from TB at the local hospital, kids running for food on a sunny Sunday, workers building cheap coffins and neighbours fighting for a piece of land in the tribunal.
Everything was possible and smooth thanks to the helpful people of the Louis Gregory Foundation, an American non profit organization developing an educational program in the area called Full Circle Learning. The aim was to promote through schools the sharing of skills of all members of the community, as Maureen kindly explained to me while providing me easy access to clinics, factories, orphanages and bars.
There are many different stories in parallel and I am still thinking about the best way to present them and put them together. Inspiration was always right in front of you. A constant flowing of stories was easily at reach. No need of headaches to get close and natural to the situations.
This time for the final project I may try to do something similar in Ethiopia with a bit more of organization and research in advance instead of going backwards, but there will always be space for improvisation and luck.