We live contradictions every day of our lives. No matter how much we try to stay true to who we are or what we aspire to, we fall into places and times of contradiction. Sometimes it is just a matter of survival or the way it has to be for a while. In Islamabad I feel as if I have fallen into and out of a place of contradiction.
Perhaps it is a time of contradictions. I am a South African flying out of my country to this workshop when I could be at home joining in the celebrations of the FIFA 2010 world cup. But more than being at home for this (full of contradictions) event, I chose to come and co-train at this digital storytelling workshop. The focus is on training women (and one feminist man) in the digital storytelling methodology whilst they make their own stories which focus on their experiences of violence.
The workshop is in a city I have never visited before, in a country I know very little about. I was apprehensive before coming here. The government had recently unbanned Facebook and Youtube and the news I received of Pakistan was of random bombings, surveilled lives and women not able to move without the permission of men. I suppose some of it resonated with me. My country, South Africa for years was a virtual police state with most of the population not allowed to move freely, bombs placed in shopping centres and our rate of violence against women and children is the highest in the world. But what I have learnt from growing up in my country, is that not knowing the “other” breeds fear. I guess I was afraid of entering another space of fear. But entering meant more of a knowing and that should lessen the fear. And so I entered the workshop with the hope shedding the fear and to understand some contradictions.
Our workshop begins with hand mapping where we trace our hands on paper and paint our experience of violence on the one hand and technology on the other and the space in between which connects or disconnects the two. The colours red mean violence to one participant and possibility to another. The colour green, growth to one and dissatisfaction to another. Symbols and shapes represent connectivity, struggle, silence and pain. The hands that create and connect also destroy and abuse. And this is what leads us into the story circle.
Sharing a story of hurt and harm from ones life with others is a brave act. There is the wanting to share so others know and we are witnessed but there is the fear that the throat will not open or that we cannot trust our voices. As a facilitator listening to the stories so we can feedback what we hear and participants can shape the stories into scripts for their digital stories, I find myself moving into a place without contradictions. There are no contradictions about violence, about abusing power, about throwing acid into a woman's face or systematic abuse of young children. It is just wrong. And we listen to stories of witness, of change, all of bravery and determination. There is no contradiction about confronting abusers or growing out of fear into clarity of action or turning around and forgiving yourself for the inaction.
So I now know why I had to be here and not waving flags at the first soccer match. I came here to reach a place of clarity and the shedding of some contradictions. We are only on day three of a five day workshop. The work days should run from 9:30 in the morning and finish at 5:30 at night. But here we still are at 7:00 in the evening and people are working on their stories. Shaping, changing, crafting, recording and re-recording – they want their stories to be beautiful and powerful. They want their stories to be shown. The technology is both incidental and important. Learning the tools enables the stories to emerge.
And emerging from the place of contradictions and out of the workshop venue, I see the South African flag draped over a table next to a soccer net in the foyer of the hotel. My heart skips a beat. Yes! I can watch the soccer match here in Islamabad and shout for my country. And I feel excited about the workshop and the possibilities of digital storytelling and of these women's rights activists using the technology to shape stories of such bravery.
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Agenda para la capacitación, presentaciones, anotaciones de las instructoras que han participado de los talleres ITF. Materiales para usar en la propia planificación de los talleres ITF.