UBīs Teen Photographers

Our first project was conducted in Ulan Bator, Mongolia in June 2012. We were working together with Mongolian Youth Development Services Center in the ger district of Hailast. We had one month photography and writing course for ten young people age of twelve to eighteen. The idea of the project was that these boys and girls take photographs of their everyday life, write small stories about them and in the end of the project organize exhibition of their work for the friends and family to see. By taking photographs and writing about them the young people should start to pay more attention to the circumstances they are living in. The course also teaches important life skills such as working in a group, verbalizing their ideas and negotiating these with the others working in the project. But more than anything it was meant to be fun and enjoyable way to encourage these teenagers in their lives.

Photography can be a tool to show and share young peopleīs reality with the majority. For the photographers this project gave a possibility to share their opinions about the issues concerning their lives. Also the feeling of being heard and seen, maybe for a first time ever, can be very powerful. Photography is suitable for youth empowering because it is easy to implement and doesnīt require huge resources. Still the impact of photographs can be immediate and powerful - one picture tells more than a thousand words as we saw in their exhibition.

Here is an article from the trainer.

UBīs Teen Photographers - the project story

"Look, look! Look at my pictures." Teens from the E-smile learning center were showing me the first pictures they have taken. It was the third time I saw them and we were still getting to know each other but already that time I felt this would be a great month with these young people.

I had started to plan the project months before when it was still winter in Finland. I had been reading about empowering photography projects and I immediately felt it was something I would like to do. And I wanted to have this project in Mongolia which is a very special place for me.

I contacted Mongolian Youth Development Services Center and asked if I could come to have this project with them. From the start they appeared very professional. And to my joy they were welcoming me to work with them.

I was very nervous when I arrived to Ulan Bator and met the teens for the first time. I really didnīt know what to expect. All I knew about them was that they were from the ger district and that they were regular visitors at the E-smile learning center. But when I met them I was very pleased. They were smart young people with lot of ideas and good will. For the start they were very shy but as the course went on they became more and more open and lively. Iīm very glad I got to know them.

I had made great plans about the project and how it would go. But still I noticed that for the lessons my plans werenīt detailed enough. And at the same time no matter how much I planned things wouldnīt go that way. There was always a slight feel of uncertainty before the lessons: who would show up, did they have the cameras with them and what about the pictures and writings - how would they be. A huge thank goes to my co-worker who helped me to track down the missing kids and was organizing extra lessons and of course translating. Without her help I could not have had this project

I was pleased with the pictures and writings the teens produced. They were telling lots of interesting stories about their lives. The teens had obviously paid a lot of effort to thinking about the pictures and taking them. And I was very pleased with the discussions we had during the lessons. I think for them it was a new experience to discuss about their ideas and feelings in a group. I hope it gave them a feeling of being heard and cared for. For me it was great to see these young people starting to have vivid conversations with lot of laughter.

"Look, look! Look at my pictures." The teens were showing their pictures to the visitors at the exhibition opening in The GIZ gallery. The exhibition with teensī pictures and writings turned out to be quite a success. It required a lot of work and some nerve-wrecking moments but it was all worth it. The teens were excited and maybe a bit overwhelmed about the interest the exhibition got. The visitors were impressed. And I myself was very happy and very proud about my students and what they had accomplished.

My wish is that I can come back to have the same kind of course with different teens. I also hope that the workers at MYDSC got some new skills and knowledge and they may have the course by themselves also. My experience with these teens and MYDSC is very precious to me. I think I learned as much or even more than the teens.

In the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 the exhibition will be seen in three different cities in Finland.

The next project is planned to be same kind of photography and writing course and it will be held in Nepal in Lamagaon village in 2013 in co-operation with Chrystal Earth Community

With love from Kathmandu!

In June 2013 we went to the beautiful hills of Himalaya to have a project in Lamagaun village just outside Kathmandu. We also had a pilot project in a school for street children in Kathmandu.

Chrystal Earth's Movie Project

The idea of the Chrystal Earth's movie project was to have a communal project which involves the whole community to participate. To make things easier five young men from the community had the responsibility of putting the movie together.

The starting point for the movie was given; they had to interview elderly of the village and ask for advices how to live a happy life. The movie had to base on those ideas. After that the group had free hands how to make the movie. After discussions they decided to make a fictional movie about the importance of education.

The production group wrote the script, planned the shootings, shoot all the material and edited it in two months. They were acting themselves and getting members of their community to act in the movie as well.

The trainer participated in every part of the production helping the group and giving advices. But all the decision concerning the movie were made by the group.

The Chrystal Earth's movie project was very successful. It involved the whole community to participate in the making and helping the group and each other in the process. The young men in the production group learned some valuable skills during the process and it give them self confidence.

Here is the trailer of the 50 minutes movie.

For more information and the whole movie ask Laura Miettinen.

My first Photograph!

In Kathmandu down town we had a pilot project in Sangasangai school for street children.

We went there with 25 disposable cameras and gave them to the children. Their task was to take pictures of their daily life during one week.

For most of the children it was the first time they had camera in their hands. It was surprising for the trainer to realize that the first thing was to explain to the children what the thing in their hands actually was. But children are smart and excited and they learned very quickly.

After a week we went back to the children with developed pictures. It was amazing to see how good pictures the children had taken. And how many stories about the children's lives they told.

We will definitely have a same kind of project again.

The pictures children took can be seen in the gallery

For more information ask Laura Miettinen