We worked with an HIV+ community group in M'deka, a place about an hour's drive outside Blantyre. This was carried out with GOAL, an Irish NGO who have been setting up these groups as a way of helping HIV+ people to support one another and change attitudes in the community to knowing your status. This particular group had been in existence for about 6 months.
The Participatory Video project was facilitated by Dominic Elliot (InsightShare) and Basimenye Mwalwanda. This and the Tichezerane People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) Group was funded by the European Union, Development Co-operation Ireland (now Irish Aid) and The Bishop's Fund. The programme was implemented by GOAL Malawi as part of the APPLE Programme (AIDS Prevention Positive Living and Empowerment) and was co-ordinated by Care Mozambique.
This was a very short project with minimal funding, 3 days in total were spent with the group.
On the first day, after inviting them to take part in the project, we did the name game and the disappearing game (see handbook section 2) to give people a chance to see if they might be interested in taking it further. Of course, they did and we organised to come back a few days later when they were all free.
After some more preliminary Participatory Video games and exercises on the second day, they did a little drama about going to visit a sick neighbour who prefers to visit the witchdoctor than go the hospital to get herself tested. The visitors persuade her to go the hospital, and then did some household chores to help her out! This was lots of fun and concluded our second session.
The third and final session, just towards the end of the short trip, was amazingly productive. When we arrived they had already been discussing stuff that they wanted to film, but we did a proper planning session nonetheless. They sang a song, said a prayer, introduced the group, told a few personal stories (those who wanted to) and then filmed their various activities that they do as a group; composting, growing vegetables to share and keep themselves healthy, selling blue gum trees to raise money for a common account to help one another in times of need, visiting the sick and helping them with chores, hiring a maize field and tending to it communally, teaching each other skills like literacy, generally supporting each other, uplifting each other's spirits, creating a non-discriminating environment, and changing attitudes in the community.
They filmed all these things in a very lively way so that one person would talk about the activity whilst the others would DO it in the background - eg composting, tending to the maize field, teaching, doing chores for the sick. We screened the material back to them at the end and got some filmed feedback.
This film is being used to set up similar groups in different parts of Malawi and Mozambique
(a Portuguese version is being made) and is being sent to every GOAL office throughout the world!
It was such a joy seeing how much they enjoyed themselves. The feedback in the right hand column speaks for itself. This was a very short project (3 days!) but it achieved a great deal, it just shows what Participatory Video is capable of achieving even with minimal funding and resources.
We will continue to work with HIV positive groups throughout the world. This and other films like it are important tools for sharing and awareness raising, but also for inspiring and empowering those groups and individuals we work with. Contact us to support this work.
"We, are very grateful for your visit here, we never dreamt, we never even knew that one day we would learn to use, let alone touch, a camera. This is why we are so happy today and we ask you to pass on our gratitude back home. Tell them that we have learnt quite a lot, things we never expected. We actually are lacking words on how we can genuinely express our gratitude."
The Chikondi AIDS support group.
"Right now, those people who hide their status are envious of us because we've had a really good time!"
Participant and member of support group.
"On behalf of the whole group I want to thank you for coming and as you know, the purpose of this group is that we should cheer each other up and eliminate discrimination. You guys, the way you interacted with us is one way of dealing with discrimination. Again, you have cheered us up. You know, in as much as we try to stick together to overcome our fears, there are times that these fears just pop up and sometimes we even have squabbles among ourselves, but your presence among us these last few days has been really wonderful."
Participant and member of support group.