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Letting children be storytellers

by Kevin Cook, World Vision International Communications Team

While in Peru recently, I joined several colleagues from that office in teaching young people from three area development programs how to tell stories about their lives using smartphones.

They were eager to learn. Their agile minds soaked up everything like sponges. They came up with brilliant story ideas, sketched them out on paper and with great energy and enthusiasm began making their first-ever video blogs (“vlogs”) with the smartphones.

The results far surpassed my expectations, but then came the best part several weeks later when I watched the first four completed videos with deep amazement and joy.

There was 11-year-old Anderson (see video below) surrounded by friends and introducing me to the children’s club where he currently serves president.

Then 18-year-old Marisol (see video below) walked up the steps of a community stairway next to a contaminated river where she and other children had painted environmental awareness messages.

Next I saw a video from 13-year-old Alvaro (see video below) showing me the library where he loves to read books.

The fourth video was from 12-year-old Luz (see video below) who interviewed her teacher, sang and thanked her sponsor.

These were simple yet powerful stories made by just four young people with a little help from World Vision.

In showing these videos to other colleagues I found that they shared my feeling of seeing these children’s worlds for the very first time through their eyes. These are worlds of great purpose, potential, joy and hope – greater than their poverty and vulnerability.

When children talk about and show us things that really matter to them – or to any child – we realise why these things can also matter so much to us.

Why should this also matter to World Vision?

For starters, child voice and storytelling directly connect to our organisational vision and values. And as we work toward a world where every child experiences life in all its fullness – in a world that is increasingly digital and connected – we can also create entirely new opportunities for World Vision supporters to see, hear and learn from children themselves.

Child voice is not something new or unique to World Vision. However, child voice has a growing strategic importance to World Vision’s field ministry, sponsorship and sustainability objectives and global communications.

Communications activities can become fun, meaningful and engaging for children – as they in turn become capable, creative and even brilliant subjects, storytellers and advocates of their own development.

We know from the Bible, including from various teachings of Jesus, that one way God speaks is through children. So I am personally excited that World Vision is seeking increasingly to hear and enable the voices of children around the world – and to discern God’s voice through theirs.

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