LIVED is currently working toward establishing a long-term project in Colombia, combining elements of documentary film-making – such as was done with our previous documentary ‘Learning to Swim’ – and also creative workshops for displaced children. We hope that if children have the chance to learn skills such as film-making, photography, music and art not only can it present opportunities in the future, but it will also allow them to express and articulate for themselves what is important in their day-to-day lived experiences.
Before we can establish any presence in Colombia, however, it is important that LIVED goes through a process of building a network of contacts and trust throughout the community within which we would like to work. To that end, the scoping trip involved meeting many local organisations, including the UNCHR staff based in Bogotá. Kindly guided and accompanied by UNHCR, we visited a school within district of Altos de la Florida, part of the larger area of Soacha which is located just outside Bogotá.
At the school we held a screening of our documentary ‘Learning to Swim’ to around 20 children who were studying at the school. Ranging in age from around 7-12 years, they were hugely energetic, excitable and enjoyable to spend time with. In particular, moments of shared experience from the film drew responses from the children, such as games of football, marbles and jumping in the puddles. Following the film the children then created a series of drawings that often featured these moments, and wrote small messages to those Syrian youth featured in the documentary.
We were also very lucky to have the opportunity to meet with an organisation called Kairos who are working in the area at the moment. Kairos are working with older children (14-28 years) around Soacha, facilitating activities such as entrepreneurial workshops, break-dancing classes, theatre, football and music. Two of their students also came to view the film, and following the screening they discussed their responses and feelings regarding the situation of the children in the film.
Overall our experiences within Colombia were extremely positive. The expressions of empathy and friendship from the children we met towards the ones who feature in ‘Learning to Swim’ were truly humbling. Similarly, the generosity of our hosts and the organisations who freely gave their time to meet and guide us around the city was incredible. We very much hope to be reporting back soon with good news regarding next steps, and more details of what LIVED will be doing!
LIVED would like to extend a special thanks to ACNUR (UNHCR) for facilitating the visit and screening within the school, all the staff at the school itself, Kairos for kindly helping their students attend the screening, and all the other people who hosted, guided and helped us during our stay. Gracias!