Save the Children – Syria Six Year Anniversary Photography Project

Award-winning photographer Nick Ballon and conceptual artist Alma Haser have partnered up to produce a series of conceptual, photographs and animations, visualising the mental health impact of conflict on Syrian children, to mark six years since the war began.

Commissioned by Save the Children, the artists worked with six refugee children now living in Turkey. The initiative coincides with a major research project by the charity, Invisible Wounds, which found widespread evidence of ‘toxic stress’ and mental health issues among children still living inside Syria.SAVE-THE-CHILDREN

In order to visualise the invisible, psychological pain these children suffer, Save the Children worked with the two artists to produce a powerful photography and animation project – the first collaboration of its kind. All of the images, photographed by Nick Ballon near the Turkey-Syria border where these children now live, have been physically manipulated and art-worked by Alma Haser using a variety of creative techniques, including ripping, folding, crumpling and origami – each one selected to suit the story the children told.

Alongside the images, Save the Children has also produced a series of short animations which combine video of the portraits being manipulated with audio testimonies from the children and their relatives. In contrast with the now familiar news imagery of Syria’s war, this project offers a different visual perspective, bringing to the fore the brutal psychological scars of war which usually remain out of sight.

For the Invisible Wounds report, Save the Children and its Syrian partners interviewed more than 450 children, adolescents and adults inside Syria in the largest study of its kind conducted during the course of the conflict. It found that children are living in an almost constant state of fear, terrified by shelling, airstrikes and ongoing violence, with devastating psychological consequences.

 

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International Development Videos 2016

I started curating videos about International Development in 2013. There was no particular criteria, I wanted to showcase a few videos that inspired some emotion within me. Some of the videos were thought provoking, others were inspirational, innovative, educational or brought a tear to me eye. Since then I have been on SAIH’s Rusty and Golden Radiator Panel which aims to critique the use of video in humanitarian communications. Below are a few videos I’ve found interesting this year.

Here are links to videos that caught my eye in 2014 and 2015.

UNICEF – #SyriaCrisis: 5 Years in 60 seconds

Adopt a Dane Foundation – Africa is rescuing old people from Denmark

 

Project Literacy – The Alphabet of Illiteracy

Charity:Water – Fight Dirty With Us

Plan International UK – What do girls really learn at school? Learn without fear

Islamic Relief – Countries in Conflict

UNICEF – A storybook wedding – except for one thing

WaterAid – Manpons 

UNICEF – Unfairy Tales: Malak and boat

Save the Children – Still The Most Shocking Day

WaterAid – Claudia Sings Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Plan International – Mamie’s Dream

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Save the Children – Still the Most Shocking Day Video

So, I did have insider information that a sequel was on it’s way, but I knew little more than that. Here it is, the follow up to Save’s The Most Shocking Day. I wasn’t quite sure what to think when I heard there was going to be a “sequel” and didn’t know what to expect. The new video is indeed quite shocking, sobering, depressing. It made me incredibly sad watching it – all the time thinking of my own two children who are a similar age to the child portrayed in the video.

A couple of questions spring to mind: Will it get as many views as the first video and Will it encourage people to donate? I’ll let you decide….

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A new genre of NGO videos?

Redd Barna (Save the Children Norway) released a video earlier this week as part of their #BirthofInvoice campaign. The video spoof shows the pilot of a new “birth meter” which is being installed in Harstad Hospital in Norway. The film includes a project manager for a project called “Cost control in maternity care.” which has been designed to streamline the work of midwives. The meter efficiently records all the requirements of a birth such as nitrous oxide, epidurals and consent. At the end of the process the baby is then tagged with a barcode so that the costs can be quickly calculated and a bill provided for the new parents.

The midwives in the video did not know anything about the film, whereas the instructor and the woman in the bed are actors. Lisa Brodshaug, Campaign Advisor at Save the Children said “We contacted the management of the hospital to ask permission to film the spoof. The midwives were told to attend a training for a new tool to help them in their daily work. Their reactions appear when they realize this birth meter is designed to print an invoice in the end, for the mother to carry with the baby out of the hospital. We chose to use a hidden camera to capture their natural reactions when exposed to the birth meter. We assumed that the midwives’ instinct would be activated, and we were right. They told us afterwards that they were furious during the session and most of all wanted to slap the instructor across his face. Interesting then, to see how controlled they are when communicating their objections.”

The video which films the reaction of real midwives in Norway reminds me slightly of the annoying but very popular prank show, Beadles About. There have been quite a few videos produced in the last few years which either use spoofs e.g. Africa for Norway or a strategy of “it’s not happening here yet…..”, which also reminds me of the very clever outdoor advertising campaign from Amnesty International a few years ago.

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It seems as this type of communication style is very effective. The Save the Children UK video Most Shocking Second a Day now has over 45 million views. At the end of the #BirthofInvoice video there is the opportunity to use an online tool to see what the cost would have been for the birth of your existing children. This ‘birth invoice can be shared via social media. Lisa Brodshaug commented “Numbers show that we hit the nail with our suggested action for showing support; to make people share their own birth invoice with an estimated amount according to their number of births. This has generated even more traffic on our sites and tells us that people need to relate and personalize the information in order to take action.”

The video has been produced to alert people to the kind of processes that go on in many countries. In Norway, like the UK, health care from qualified professionals during pregnancy and birth is free, whereas in other countries women have to pay for vital health care. Those who cannot afford to pay often give birth at home without professional help and risk both their own lives and the lives of their baby. As part of this campaign, Save the Children aim to increase awareness of this problem and advocate for free healthcare across the world as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

It seems the campaign is working!

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Save The Children Video Viewed 2 million times in one day

Another interesting video has been made to help the Syria appeal. It starts with a young girl blowing out candles (I think I counted 9) on her birthday, this is followed by clips of her doing normal every day things that a 9 year old in the UK might do: eating cake, trying on her mums lipstick, playing her recorder, playing in the park etc. Suddenly brief excerpts of the news are shown on TV and the front of newspapers and then we hear the sound of a helicopter and realise that civil war has hit Britain.

It’s a powerful and haunting video which get’s darker and darker, depicting the potentail scenes of conflict in the UK.

In a similar vein to the Norway SOS video, the film constructs the life of a distant other through the lens of someone more familiar to the UK audience. Again, by using a child that we recognise we feel more personal connection and sympathy and thus views of the film have rocketed.

The video has been produced by Save the Children to highlight the Syria crisis. It was launched in the run-up to the three-year anniversary of the conflict where 10,000 children have lost their lives and 2.3   million people have become refugees. Jack Lundie, Director of Brand and Communications at Save The Children says

“This powerful and cleverly-crafted short film engages the viewer with the idea of what daily life might be like for children here at home, if a conflict broke out in the UK.  It’s easy to forget that Syria was a middle income country, where children enjoyed the benefits of education, healthcare and the other basic rights our children take for granted – not to mention Facebook accounts, video games and youth culture. We hope the video will resonate with the public, particularly those who don’t know much about the situation in Syria, and offer a new perspective on the devastating impact this conflict is having on innocent Syrian children.  The message to the public is “just because it’s not happening here, doesn’t mean it’s not happening.”

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