#ChangingTheStory Launch Event 1st December 2016

Posted by Martin Keat

Join us: #ChangingTheStory Launch Event, 1st December 2016

We are inviting our supporters to join us at our prestigious #ChangingTheStory event at at the Royal Academy in London on the 1st December 2016. This will be World AIDS Day and a fitting moment for us to show how children and young people are challenging the terrible impact of the AIDS epidemic in their communities. We will be launching a series of five films conceptualised, written, directed, acted, filmed and edited by twenty children in the community of Tsakane to the South East of Johannesberg. These films are a result of our great partnership with the Centre for World Cinemas and Digital Cultures at the University of Leeds and World Comics Power as we have formed a new way of helping children explore the most difficult issues in their lives, find powerful solutions and influence their peers.

In February 2016, Professor Paul Cooke of the University of Leeds joined the Bishop Simeon Trust and our partners Themba Interactive to run a week long film workshop with our community partner Tshepo Hope Safe Park in Tsakane. This was a pilot project, the aim being to empower a group of ten Child Care Advocates (CCA) with the skill to create short films to relate stories about their lives, community and heritage. The idea was to build on and add value to the participatory drama work of our partner Themba Interactive and the Grassroots Comic training received from World Comics Power in December 2015.

Using the comics as a starting point, the CCAs thought critically on the stories that generally circulate about South Africa on the world’s cinema and TV screens. This critical reflection then acted as a creative stimulus for the CCAs to make their own films and tell their own stories.
In the first workshop two movies were created: Tit for Tat and Ukuhamba Ukubona (To walk is to see). Tit for Tat is the story of a young woman forced into a toxic relationship due to poverty. The film outlines the possible consequences of this behaviour and touches on aspects of HIV and AIDS, transactional sex and teenage pregnancy. The film also shows us that all is not lost and the young woman is able to build a life for herself in the midst of all these challenges. This is a story of hope. 
Ukuhamba Ukubona (to walk is to see) tells the story of a young mother and her teenage daughter. Due to poverty they are forced to rely upon the mother’s boyfriend for provision. This places her daughter in a compromising position of being raped and abused by the boyfriend. The film shows that there are other alternatives for the mother to build a life for herself and her daughter. The CCAs were pleased with the work they had produced and were only too eager for Professor Cooke to come back for a follow up workshop with them and some of the children they care for. You can find out more about that workshop and what those young people involved thought of it here.

At the end of June Professor Paul Cooke was able to return with five interns thanks to the sponsorship of the Footsteps Fund at the University of Leedsand the theme of the film workshop was #ChangingTheStory. These interns were chosen from a pool of many and were taken through training in the Grassroots Comic model and and basic film skills. This was also a valuable learning process for them, their participation in this project serving as a medium for them to practice these new skills as well as to bring their own knowledge and experience to the benefit of our work in South Africa. 

The CCAs formed five groups of two and recruited four children each to work with on the creation of a short film. Using the Grassroots Comic methodology, participants were able to collectively decide on the story they wished to tell about their community and Safe Park before the arrival of the Interns. The film workshop lasted a week with each intern working with one of the groups, the process culminating in the production of five films.

At the end of the week, there was a showcase of the films for everyone at Tshepo Hope. It was a proud moment as the twenty children and ten CCAs took a bow in front of their peers for the wonderful work they had achieved in such a short space of time. 

The UK launch event at the Royal Academy will take place from 6.30-8.30pm on Thursday 1st December 2016. We welcome supporters to join us there. Places are limited though, so if you would like to come please email expressing your interest and we will make arrangements to send you an invite. Please do join us if you can!

For those that cannot make it to the event we will be launching the films on our YouTube Channel during December, so please watch out for that and share these incredible stories far and wide to help us support those children in #ChangingTheStory. 


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A big part of our work here at the Bishop Simeon trust is committed to assuring that children and young adults in South Africa are able to challenge and conquer those obstacles in their lives that prevent them from accessing education and assuring that they can  make the most of the potential they possess to thrive and build a positive future.