Last year, The Global Fund for Children won a Digital Media and Learning Competition grant, funded by the MacArthur Foundation, to build GFC’s capacity to capture, share, and promote knowledge gained by its grantee partners working with youth throughout the world. Over the last few months, five GFC grantee partners in Asia and Latin America have started to support this initiative by using a new digital camcorder called the Flip camera. The Flip camera is small, lightweight, relatively inexpensive compared to other camcorders, and very easy to use. The video files collected through the Flip camera can be directly transferred to a computer simply by inserting the camera’s built-in USB cable, and the camera includes integrated video software that allows users to quickly upload video to video-sharing websites. The Flip camera allows GFC’s grantee partners to easily share their stories and videos with the world.
During a trip last month to Nicaragua for GFC’s Knowledge Exchange, a workshop that brought together grantee partners in Latin America to share their experiences, challenges, and best practices for serving youth, GFC program officers handed out Flip cameras to some of the participants. Michael Gale, the program assistant for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “The Flip cams were a big hit whenever we got them out (which was often), and many participants were interested to hear about GFC’s digital media/storytelling initiative.” GFC’s current grantee partners in Asia and Latin America utilizing Flip cameras are The YP Foundation and Mahita in India, APEDIBIMI (Asociación de Promotores de Educación Inicial y Preprimaria Bilingüe Maya-Ixil, or Maya-Ixil Association of Promoters of Bilingual Early Education) and Aj Sya' (Asociación Educativa Maya Aj Sya', or Maya Aj Sya' Educational Association) in Guatemala, and IDEMI (Instituto para el Desarrollo de la Mujer y la Infancia, or Institute for the Development of Women and Children) in Panama.
While at the Knowledge Exchange in Nicaragua, Susanna Shapiro, GFC’s program officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “When we had only pens and cameras, we could capture words and frozen images. The Flip cameras allow us to capture so much more. With them we can record and share the nonverbal communication that helps to build and strengthen relationships across lines of difference: we can capture such things as facial expressions, emotions, and intonation, as well as cultural experiences of dancing, singing, and performances that represent a certain cultural or regional context. The cameras allow the fullness of an experience to be documented and shared with wide audiences in a way that wasn’t possible before.”
Providing cameras to grantee partners allows GFC to observe how access to the new technology can help these partners to advance and further their efforts. GFC encourages its grantee partners to send back video material that they capture in the field. The Flip camera provides GFC with the opportunity to see a glimpse of its grantee partners’ communities through their eyes, as they experience their environment.
“I taught Benito Cedillo (APEDIBIMI) and Victoria Choy (Aj Sya') to use the Flip cameras, and they seemed absolutely delighted and grateful for the chance to use them. Victoria mentioned that she would record the art, music, and traditional Mayan dance activities of the children in Guatemala, and that she would be excited to use the camera. After we trained her in the basic features, she immediately turned to Victoria Dunning, GFC’s vice president of programs, and conducted a mock interview with her, right then and there! She seemed instinctively to know that this would be a great way to share with the world the lives of the children she works with,” said Hoa Tu Duong, GFC’s program officer for East and Southeast Asia.
In addition to distributing Flip cameras to grantee partners, The Global Fund for Children's program officers have begun to take Flip cameras on their travels to document what they experience. They conduct interviews with grantee partners, allowing GFC’s supporters and partners to see firsthand what is taking place in the field. GFC is taking digital media to a new level by introducing Flip cameras to its partners and program officers to help build organizational capacity in digital media and to develop innovative ways of sharing stories.
Monica Grover is Digital Media Projects Manager for Global Fund for Children.