Voices of Children Update – March 2016

The Voices of Children Journey Continues in India and SingaporeIMG_5397
This past month the Voices of Children (VoC) project continued the journey to better understand young children’s perspectives on rights by travelling to sites in Mumbai, Bangalore and Singapore. Our team of two videographers and three educators from Brazil, USA, and Singapore engaged directly with teachers, parents and children during twelve intensive days of listening through drawing, story telling, movement, play, and the language of video. What is it like to engage in a dialogue of over an hour with small groups of 4-6 year olds about how they see their lives, the environment, and their community? How do we really “hear” and make visible the underlying threads of how they see their rights and how they can contribute? What is the impact of unpacking the cultural and political meaning of rights with educators in India and Singapore? Clearly, we have been the learners.

Through our collaboration we have realized that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), while an important tool, is a legal document created by adults. The VoC Project, which also includes reciprocal mentoring with contributors on the ground in Israel, Australia, Pakistan, Nepal, New Zealand, and more, has begun to uncover the attitudes and strategies needed to hear from our youngest citizens. Now begins the complex  process of viewing, translating, and editing the many hours of video – much of it taken by young children with GoPro© and digital cameras as they became documenters of us, our dialogues with teachers, and their environments. We are committed to the ideal that we can never really provide for or protect children without their full participation.

Our dreams are big. We envision a thumb_IMG_5000_1024documentary to share at the 2017 World Forum as an advocacy tool, and various ways of broadcasting what we have learned about the challenges and possibilities of really listening to what children have to say about the rights and place in the world: a book, photographic essays, a website, a “making of” film. We also continue to dream of further VoC team collaborations with educators in other sites (think Japan, China, Rwanda, Kenya…) and continuing to share what we have learned with our grassroots contributors who continue to listen and film in diverse contexts around the globe.

In addition to lending our time, generous funding and logistical support came from Avante and Comova (Brazil), Podar Education Network, SNDT Women’s University, Muktangan Schools, Mallya Aditi International School and Shristi Institute of Art, Design and Technology (India), Child@Street 11 School (Singapore), and the World Forum Foundation.

– John Nimmo