In July 2009, Miguel Macias, a MADRE volunteer and youth media producer, returned to Bogota to conduct workshops with the youth of Taller de Vida. For two weeks, Miguel worked with 15 students on writing for the web, photography, journalism, video, radio and Drupal (an internet content management system). The first week was mainly instructional, while the second focused on the writing and shooting/recording of the students’ stories. All of the content produced will be posted on Youth Radio, a youth media organization with bureaus across the US and internationally.
Many of the workshop participants were former child soldiers who had escaped from paramilitary groups and found Taller de Vida. Now, as teens and young adults, many are reluctant to discuss their ordeals. Through the workshops, they wrote stories exploring their pasts, often as portraits of themselves or someone they know. Yina, a young woman, wrote of the experiences of women and girls recruited into the male-dominated FARC guerilla army. Yvonne wrote of the importance of theater in her life.
Miguel left Bogota with plenty of finished and raw materials (writing, audio, video, and pictures). He plans to produce several of the stories into full web posts for Youth Radio. Telling and sharing their stories enables the youth of Taller de Vida to heal from the traumas of life as a child soldier.
Here is an excerpt from Miguel’s blog entry for MADRE on his experience working with the youth of Taller de Vida:
“Teaching these young students from Bogota I wonder about their memories. And I wonder about how those memories shape who they are…I still feel there is a story that needs to be told. There is a messy body of memories, history, experiences, opinions, years, interpretations, conflicts. And I want to deconstruct it. Understand how the consciousness of this conflict is built. And maybe then I'll feel that I gave something significant back to those Colombians who gave me their trust.”
To read more about Miguel’s experience, and to see a video that one of the students produced, please visit: http://madreblogs.typepad.com/mymadre/2009/10/storytelling-and-youth-media-in-colombia.html
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