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...
May 9, 2013

Community Researchers Plan Own Activities

Village elder, a holder of important knowledge
Village elder, a holder of important knowledge

Community researchers from the village of Buayan in Ulu Papar worked together to develop proposals in a bid to learn more about the cultural treasures that have remained concealed within the minds of the older generation in Buayan and the villages nearby. Two activities have been planned involving interviews with village elders to discover the legends that once governed the actions and behaviour of their Ulu Papar ancestors, and learning from skilled handicraft makers the techniques used to produce traditional crafts.

Building on the 8 years of work that began in 2004 in Sabah to increase the knowledge and appreciation of the biocultural and historical significance of Ulu Papar among the Ulu Papar community and beyond, the planning process used by this small group of researchers can be said to be an achievement in its own right. With increasing autonomy from the Global Diversity Foundation, the NGO that worked closely with the Ulu Papar community to build their skills in research and outreach, the community researchers showed promise in their ability to plan their own activities to promote the preservation of their biocultural heritage.

These proposed activities are tied in with the Buayan Biocultural Heritage Centre, the construction of which should be underway by July as part of a project facilitated by Arkitrek, an organisation of experts in sustainable design that is engaging with students from Malaysia, the U.K. and Japan, and the community of Ulu Papar throughout the planning, design and construction stages. Expected to be completed in August this year, the centre will become the focus for the community researchers’ activities, serving as a venue that allows information to be shared among the community as well as to those who venture to the scenic village of Buayan.

 

Images (by Inanc Tekguc)

Village elder: Village elders in Ulu Papar hold the key to a vast amount of traditional knowledge which needs to be passed down to the younger generation.

Ulu Papar natural environment: The environment in Ulu Papar is not only a source of raw materials to make local handicrafts, but a source of food, irrigation and medicine for the local community. 

Raw materials for handicrafts come from nature
Raw materials for handicrafts come from nature

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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

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