Defence for Children International-SL in partnership with McGill University, Canada yesterday, 18th January 2011 organized a photo voice exhibition in the conference hall of the British Council Office at Tower Hill in Freetown.
Defence for Children International-SL is an NGO operating in Sierra Leone in the area of Child Rights. Since 2002, DCI-SL has worked in close partnership with McGill University, School of Social work, Canada on several research Projects relating to war affected children and child soldiers in Sierra Leone. Most of these people have come to live in the city in the hope of finding opportunities to better their lives. Some of them came to live at the Mabella, slum in Freetown.
The photo voice project is the product of a joint research exercise carried out by DCI-SL and McGill University, Canada. Photo voice is a community-based participatory research method that combines photography, community awareness building, group discussions and social action.
This exercise enables members of marginalized communities to use photography to document various aspects of their lives and surroundings.
“We hope it will be a learning point for all of us after the program”. Hawa Mansaray of DCI-SL said this to the participants during her opening remarks to remind them of the importance of the session. The Chairman of the program Ahmed Bangura told the press that the project was initiated by Dr. Myrian Denov from McGill University, Canada.
”The aim of the project is to involve the marginalized youths in communities to acquire meaningful life” Bangura continued. He also told the participants that the pictures depict the lives of people in the concerned communities.
In her presentation, Dr. Denov said that she had worked with war affected children for some considerable period which have helped her to come up with such an initiative for the Mabella Youths in Freetown. She also said that the research led her to discover that the youths faced hunger, poverty and marginalization but maintained that she also discovered in them great resilience to better their lives.
Dr. Denov reiterated to the participants the reason for choosing ‘photo voice’ as an appropriate project for the Youth of Mabella. “Basically it is to empower them and help them feel a sense of belonging” she maintained.
The Executive Director of DCI-SL, Abdul Manaf Kemokai said that they see the project as a very efficient way of collecting data compared to interviews and many other methods of data collection. “It also provides an opportunity to empower the Youth”, he continued. The concerned Youths of Mabella were called upon to narrate their experience during and after the conflict in Sierra Leone that have had so much impact on their lives. The Councillor representing Mabella Community, Abu A. Kamara said that he was delighted for the exercise and expressed thanks and appreciation to DCI for their commitment for the project. He encouraged the Youths to keep focused and urged all policy makers and implementing bodies to be committed to child rights issues. “The Mabella community is one of the most deprived communities in Freetown” he told the press.
A skit portraying the lives of the children during the war was performed by the Mabella Youths to climax the program.
By Sahr Ngegba