PLEASE PROVIDE INFORMATION ON THE FOLLOWING:PROJECT HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION:
Young people aged 10-22 are particularly vulnerable emotionally to the stress and distress of the recent tsunami and its aftermath. They are old enough to understand what has happened, and, in many cases, have been directly involved in providing assistance to the affected individuals and communities. However, they are rarely provided opportunities to discuss what has happened, to learn more about what has happened, or to implement their own ideas about what could have been done to help their communities to rebuild.
To better understand the unique issues and needs of tsunami affected youth, GSEI conducted a series of interviews in primary, secondary, and post-secondary schools throughout the region. The young students that were interviewed described their fear and sense of loss arising from the tsunami, including the sense that they have “lost” their future because of the tremendous destruction of the fisheries and tourism industries- two major employers in the region. They talked about their desire to help those that have suffered more, and to be part of the rebuilding process.
Despite their willingness to help, the students in many different communities reported that they were not being allowed to play a role in this rebuilding. Moreover, they expressed frustration that that there were no forums or places for them share their thoughts, feelings, and fears about what had happened, nor their hopes and dreams for the future. Even within their schools, the students reported that they were not provided with an opportunity to discuss their concerns nor to deal with their losses.
The “You and Me for the Future” Photo Essay & Photo Tourism Project was conceived to address the needs of these young people. This school-based project will provide young students with a supportive forum where they can become empowered, and where they can begin to have their emotional and / or economic needs met. The use of photography to enable children to tell their stories is a technique that has been implemented successfully in many different types of programs worldwide, as well as in Thailand. Because it utilizes an indirect approach, it is particularly well suited for Thai children.
The project consists of two different components. In the Photo Essay segment of the project, students will be provided with an opportunity to tell their stories in a non-intrusive, therapeutic manner. The students will be allowed to access and use the digital cameras for the duration of the session. At the beginning of the session, the trained youth worker will assign a theme to the group. The students will then be given the chance to go out into the community to photograph images that capture the theme. One example of a theme that might be assigned would be to ask the students to tell a story about their community.
At the conclusion of the session, the students will be given the opportunity to share their story, and to discuss what each of the images means to them. In this way, they will be provided with a structured, non-judgmental forum where they can begin to express themselves, their feelings related to the tsunami, and their vision for the future. After the session, select images will be e-mailed and/or printed and sent to the project participants.
The Photo Tourism segment of this project will provide students with an opportunity to receive hands-on vocational training. Through photography, they will be able to develop a better understanding of their communities, thus increasing their capacity to serve productively as tour guides. The students participating in this portion of the program will be asked to photograph different aspects of the community. They will then be asked to obtain as much information as possible about what they have photographed so that they can accurately describe their communities to tourists.
The student’s photographs will also be utilized in publications that promote local tourism. Tourists will be invited to share their views about the communities with the students through their own photographs. This project will encourage communities to regain hope in local tourism.
The Good Governance for Social Development and the Environment Institute (GSEI) is a registered foundation under Thai law established in the year 2000. GSEI’s objective is to undertake activities that will support improved governance in the local communities for the better management of the environment and the improved welfare of the local people. Since the beginning of 2002, GSEI has been working in Krabi province on environmental education and community development projects. In 2004, GSEI extended its work to reach communities in Trang, Phang Nga, Phuket, and Surat Thani provinces. The staff has a varied background in youth work, social work, environmental sciences, policy analysis, and community development using participatory approaches. Together, the staff has many years of experience in holding training and capacity-building forums that are participatory, culturally sensitive, and effective.
During the initial stage of the “You and Me for the Future” Photo Essay & Photo Tourism, Crisis Corps Volunteer Maura Reap will present a comprehensive training to GSEI’s youth workers. This hands-on training will cover the proper use and care of the cameras. It will also provide information on photographic techniques, therapeutic interventions, and ethical considerations. This training will be provided to assure that the cameras will be used responsibly and effectively, and that they will remain operational for as long as possible.
Once the GSEI youth workers have demonstrated competency on these topics, the project will move into the next stage of the implementation process. Here, tsunami-affected students will be identified, recruited, and grouped for participation in the Photo Tourism project or the Photo Essay project, depending on their location, needs, and desires. The schools that have been identified for inclusion in the project thus far are Ratprachanukroh, Nong Thalay, Khong Pra Song, Laem Sak, Tah Maprow, Tah Pradoo, and Yong Star. The Ko Phi Phi Tsunami Refugee Camp has also been invited to participate in this project, and has expressed interest in doing so.
Once the students have recruited and grouped, the project will be implemented on a weekly basis. The project will be on-going. GSEI staff will monitor, review, and discuss the project regularly, and will make improvements as needed.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND BENEFIT
To provide young people with a non-threatening means of expressing their experiences, feelings, and fears related to the tsunami, as well as their hopes for the future.
To provide young people with a tool by which they can increase their awareness and appreciation of their communities.
To provide young people with a tool they can use to help rebuild their communities by developing and promoting local tourism.
To build capacity among youth workers by providing training and a medium that they can use as a therapeutic tool, as well as for the professional development of tsunami-affected youth.
This project is fully sustainable. The “You and Me for the Future” Project was initially conceived and implemented in the months immediately following the tsunami. A staff of twelve youth workers is already working in various capacities with young people in communities throughout the region. The Photo Essay and Photo Tourism project will add another dimension to the work that is already being done. Many of the youth that will participate in these activities have already been identified, and GSEI is in the process of recruiting more. This project will be implemented on an on-going basis.
GSEI is committed to building capacity among other Thai youth organizations. As indicated above, a comprehensive training will be provided to GSEI youth workers at the project’s onset. At the conclusion of the training, these youth workers will have sufficient knowledge to train other youth workers on these same topics and techniques in structured workshops through the region. Moreover, GSEI also maintains offices and programs in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, and the Photo Essay and Photo Tourism project will eventually be modified and implemented accordingly in those areas as well.
When not in use, cameras will be secured in a locked cabinet at GSEI. To reduce the likelihood of lost, stolen, or damaged equipment, the participants will only be allowed to use the cameras during the session, and under the supervision of the youth workers. To reduce the risk of damage caused by dropping, camera cases and neck straps will be purchased for each camera. To reduce the risk of damage caused by moisture, salty air, or sand, a waterproof “dry bag" will also be purchased for each camera. At the beginning of each session, the youth workers will provide an orientation on the correct usage and care of the cameras. At the conclusion of the session, the youth workers will collect the cameras and return them to GSEI.
The costs for the cameras and equipment will be a one-time expenditure. Cameras that utilize rechargeable batteries will be purchased so as to eliminate the cost of purchasing expendable batteries. Recurring costs for making prints, replacing battery packs, transportation, internet, etc., will be budgeted into GSEI’s annual programming budget.