Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge, and he...
Feb 20, 2013

Growing the Marrakech School Garden project

Ecole Abou Firass garden
Ecole Abou Firass garden

The new year brought a new director to the Lalla Aouda Saadia high school. He is now settling into his post, and has met twice with Mohamed El Haouzi, GDF’s Director of Projects in Marrakech. While they proceed with the consultations necessary to continue with our original garden, Mohamed has been approached by directors and teachers of many other schools – in Marrakech and its environs – who heard about our efforts and wish to rehabilitate their grounds. We are excited by this expanding interest in our ‘edible and ornamental schoolyards’ approach, and have decided to broaden our project to include primary, middle and high schools. Now we have children and young adults from 6 to 18 years old involved in our project.

In this and future reports, we will tell you about some of these new projects, while keeping you posted on developments at the Lalla Aouda Saadia high school. One school we are eager to assist is the Ecole Abou Firass primary school in the Marrakech medina. As you can see in the picture, the school staff has already prepared the garden for planting. Now that spring is arriving in Marrakech, GDF is ready to buy plants so the school director and teachers can roll up their sleeves and start planting.

Feb 4, 2013

Making a Community Film

An interview with Dumi Bte Koriki
An interview with Dumi Bte Koriki

Told by Remmy in Bahasa Malaysia (the national language of Malaysia)

Late last year, I had the exciting opportunity to work with fellow Community Researcher, Henry Roger, and other members from my community to produce a short film entitled “Cultural heritage and traditions of the indigenous people of Bundu Tuhan Village: Conserving and strengthening cultural and traditional heritage sites”. I would like to share our experience with you in making the film, which took us 10 days to complete.

We used community filmmaking, an approach that enables communities to present our point of view through the medium of film, to develop a grant application to First Peoples Worldwide (FPW). We realised very early on that the personal stories and knowledge of our community is what we needed the most to create an interesting film, and we wanted to be sure that everyone would be satisfied with the outcome of the film.

After working with Henry on the overall framework for the story, we sought approval from our village leaders and members, a process made easy because of the rapport we have with them. We then developed a storyboard which was reviewed by our leaders for accuracy and to ensure that it would not be the cause of any controversy.

An interesting turn of events occurred while interviewing my grandmother, one of the storytellers in the film. Her sudden decision to sing an olden day traditional wedding song prompted the idea to ask her to narrate her whole story in song. To me, this was instrumental in producing an interesting film, proving that the experience of our elders stimulates creativity, which in this case affected the entire style of our film. We decided to apply this ‘narration through song’ to all the other interviews in the film as well.

Although community filmmaking is not something new to us anymore, we are constantly learning more. As community researchers, we were first trained in the art of filmmaking by the Global Diversity Foundation (GDF) as a tool to document and highlight the lives of our community. Since then, through hands-on experience in our village and as participants of the SUARA Community Filmmaking Programme, a programme that has run for two consecutive years now, we have enhanced our filmmaking skills with new techniques and knowledge.

During the making of this short film, we learned: a short film can be successfully made by two people as long as there is enough determination to create something beneficial for our community; proper planning is needed in all steps of filmmaking to ensure that time is not wasted; and, involving people of all ages can bring different perspectives and ideas to a story. With our limited crew, we found we took more effort in understanding the entire storyline and gained more experience in all aspects of filmmaking. However, we also realised that with a small crew, we each had to take on many roles. This caused constraints - for example, we could not film from many different angles at a time. This restriction was magnified by the lack of equipment available.

To complete the film and ensure its suitability for First Peoples Worldwide, we sought help from GDF who assisted us by preparing English subtitles and providing technical advice to improve the final cut. We are very proud with the outcome of this film. Apart from its original purpose, this film is being used to create awareness among our community, motivating, in particular, the younger generation to conserve the traditions and culture of our ancestors. It is also an important tool that can be used to engage others who are interested in supporting our conservation activities. We are forever grateful to our community elders for sharing their knowledge and experience. Community filmmaking is just one way in which we can ensure that knowledge of our culture and traditions is passed on.

Image Descriptions:

  1. An interview with Dumi Bte Koriki, an elder from Bundu Tuhan, is captured on film. 
  2. Storytellers have a great influence on the outcome of a film; they should be chosen based on their ability to attract attention and tell their stories in a compelling way (Storyteller: Puan Gangku Magigi, 77).
  3. I am filming a sacred site as a cutaway for the film. This site is also where I was filmed explaining how our traditional and cultural sites are protected.
  4. Filmmakers must always ensure that clarity is good, lighting is appropriate and angles used portrays the message in a clear and interesting way. Here, Henry is filming a cutaway for the film.

Footnote:

The SUARA Community Filmmaking Programme, an integral component of the Borneo Eco Film Festival, is an annual event celebrating Borneo's biocultural diversity through showcasing environmental films and nurturing local community filmmaking. GDF co-hosted the programme in 2011 and 2012.

Storytellers have a great influence on the film
Storytellers have a great influence on the film
Filming a sacred site
Filming a sacred site
Henry films a cutaway for the film
Henry films a cutaway for the film

Links:

Dec 21, 2012

Celebrating our connection with Mt. Kinabalu

Mt. Kinabalu, sacred to Dusun communities
Mt. Kinabalu, sacred to Dusun communities

On 1 & 2 December 2012, Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran was celebrated for the third time. Community members from 14 villages took part this year, including my village, Bundu Tuhan, and Kiau, the two villages that have acted as the main hosts of the event since it first started in 2010.

When Kinabalu Park was gazetted in 1964, communities living nearby lost access to Mount Kinabalu and all of the natural resources that were depended on. Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran, meaning Return to the Mountain in our native language, is an annual pilgrimage to Mt. Kinabalu. The event was borne from pleas of our village elders to Sabah Parks, the park authority, to gain access to the mountain to revitalise our connection with this sacred site. We believe it is sacred because it is where the spirits of our dead stop to rest as they journey to the afterlife.

Community Day, run in tandem with the pilgrimage, continues each year. This year’s celebration carried the theme “Communities as Catalysts for Conservation of Kinabalu Park”. Above all, it aims to strengthen relationships and collaboration among communities living adjacent to Kinabalu Park, and the park authorities. After three years, I can honestly say that this is something that works well. Each year, our community has gathered together with other communities and the authorities to plan the event. During the event, community members of all ages get together as one to celebrate our heritage.

On a daily basis, Mount Kinabalu attracts climbers from all over the world. For almost 50 years, we have taken the backseat and learned to adapt to the restrictions imposed by park regulations, ignoring and losing (especially among those in my generation) the spiritual significance of the mountain. Together, the annual Kakakapan id Gayo Ngaran and the Community Day celebrations remind us of (and allow us to share with others) our heritage, and motivate us to be champions of our natural environment. 

*story shared by Remmy Alfie in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia.

I am filming the monolob ritual
I am filming the monolob ritual
Communities at the start of pilgrimage
Communities at the start of pilgrimage
At the peak of Mt. Kinabalu
At the peak of Mt. Kinabalu
Colouring activities held for children
Colouring activities held for children
Local produce for sale.
Local produce for sale.
Young Dusun girls in traditional costumes
Young Dusun girls in traditional costumes
Organising Chairman, Johnny Ghani, shows 3D model
Organising Chairman, Johnny Ghani, shows 3D model

Links:

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