Breaking the cycle of conflict: Participatory Photography and Storytelling Project.
The Great Lakes Agency for Peace and Development (GLAPD) is a not-for-profit organisations whose programmes aim at contributing to peacebuilding and social development among the Congolese, Rwandan, Burundian and Ugandan communities living in Sydney. With the support of the Peace Praxis Working Group of Sydney University Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies, the organisation has been holding monthly workshops to provide the leaders of these communities with peacebuilding skills. As a result of this programme, a new initiative will be implemented that brings together members of different tribes from the African Great Lakes diasporas through the support of their leaders.
The project will take place in the month of August 2016. The format will be a series of 4
workshops held once a week. The activities will involve 16 participants. These will consist of 4 participants from each Great Lakes region country (Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo); within those 4, ethnic representation will be ensured. The age group will be 15 to 22 year old. Project concept note – July 2016.
Each day, participants will engage in activities that provide them with basic photography skills and with an understanding of the use of images to convey a message or feeling. They will then be given the chance to leave the workshop premises with the cameras and take photos related to the theme of the activities. Participants will spend a set amount of time in their neighbourhood capturing images that are meaningful to them within the themes of each workshop. Their family homes and other locations where they are used to spending time are places that carry an important visual connection. In the last part of the workshop, a selection of the photos that have been taken by each participant will be shared with the larger group. Participants will tell the story and the meaning around the photographs they have taken. Those who are listening will be encouraged to express their views about the story told and related events. This will be useful to initiate dialogue and being to develop a shared narrative.
In particular, the activities are designed around the following objectives:
1) minimising intergenerational conflict, and
2) breaking the conflict cycle that impacts the lives of youth from different ethnicities.
The workshops design will address these aims consequentially, starting with a focus on youth / parents tension due to lifestyle differences, and progressing towards issues of identity and harmony between different groups. Thanks to the framework of participation applied to this activity, young people will make decisions over their images, including portrait composition and written reproduction of the stories heard and knowledge developed. A final facilitated discussion will address the key reflections that arise from this process.
The project will be co-led by a local and an external facilitator, and it wants to provide a space to encourage communication between different groups who either come from or are indirectly affected by a reality of violent conflict. The aim is to create a safe and supportive environment for young people to meet and communicate, in the hope of creating a more balanced understanding of both past and present in relation to the conflict. The ultimate goal is also to build social cohesion and community resilience.
The images and stories arising from this project will be part of a final photography exhibition and a booklet will be produced as well.
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