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Sri Lanka: Newsline

The lens zoomed and focused on us

©Plan International
A young girl practicing her newly learnt camera handling skills at the child media programme on “tele-cinema” in Monaragala.

MONARAGALA, Sri Lanka, 08 October 2009 - Using tele-cinema to communicate challenges children face, and to advocate possible solutions to their own issues, would seem a little unconventional in the Sri Lankan context. However, Plan Sri Lanka’s South East programme assisted and worked along with 35 children from the area to realize these goals, and make their voices better heard through the use of modern audio-visual technology.

Thirty five children between the ages of 14 to 18 years, including 23 girls, from the Madulla, Siyambalanduwa and Monaragala divisions took part in this six-month programme. The programme aimed at supporting children to develop their life skills, and communication skills to maximize their potentials to overcome issues affecting them.

First and foremost, the programme made sure that children understand their full potential and capacities. This helped them to eliminate negative perspectives relating to perceived discrimination based on where they lived, gender, and even how they were dressed. Thereafter, they were coached on different aspects of the cine-television industry. Children got the know-how on selecting a theme, script writing, lighting, sound controlling, elementary and intermediate camera handling techniques, as well as children facilitation skills, story telling and other such artistic skills. They were even educated on the roles of the key production personnel, such as the director, editor and producer. The children then put what they learnt into practice by producing a 12-minute film, representing their own views and experiences. They shared these experience and creative productions with their own community members, policy makers and media specialists.

Wasana, a 17 year-old girl from Thenagallanda, Monaragala, said that she lost confidence in her self from childhood, due to many family problems that she has to face, and her teachers, and neighbours didn’t seem to rely on her. She was not certain of her life targets and achievements. Wasana says, “When I worked on our scripts I heard many similar stories to mine. What I was inspired about is that many cases didn’t end negatively but only needed to be faced tactfully”.  According to her, in the process of producing the film, they had a chance to visit their friends’ houses, and found that each of them has some common problem which could always be resolved, if addressed tactfully. “Also our media teacher taught us how our personality is stronger than the minor and bitter things in our lives, which can be eliminated through positive thought”, Wasana added.


© Plan International
Section of participants at the children’s “tele-cinema programme” practicing their newly learnt camera handling skills during a practice session in Monaragala.

How does Wasana feel now at the completion of the programme?

“I feel regenerated!  Even at home I now feel more comfortable and confident and I am recognized among my neighbours and colleagues, especially after they saw the way I facilitated and coordinated the film shooting in my village. So I feel that I was able to view my life horizon and now I am fully focused and determined.”    

Wasana is among the many who have benefited from the training which not only gave them an opportunity to work with the tele-cinema industry, but also, and most importantly which encouraged their positive thinking in regaining self-confidence, and above all, social acceptance, which they much desired.



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