At the end of October, and into early November, the 300 ‘Changing the Lens on Conservation’ participants from 15 primary schools across three CITW zones underwent special skills training for basic interview techniques, in line with their environmental story-writing project. After the children had acquired basic interview techniques, CITW organised interview sessions, where local environmental experts met with the children in order to be interviewed based on the topics of the stories, which the children were developing.
The main objectives for bringing the local experts to meet the children included:
• Helping the children develop stories aligned to current environmental issues in local communities
• Having formal education experts help the children align their story content with their level of learning and school grades
• Enabling the children to acquire input and citations from local experts on their specific stories
• Building relationships between local experts and Eco-Club members
• Extending local stakeholders’ ownership of the project
Invited local experts included:
• Officers from the Department of Fisheries
• Officers from the Department of Forestry
• Root to Fruit, a major reforestation NGO in the north
• Officers from Ripple Africa, an NGO running environmental conservation projects in the area
• Primary Education Advisors (Nkhata Bay District)
• Local Village Headmen
• Local elders
To make sure that the Eco-Mentors’ photography skills (all trained four months ago), they participated in a one-day photography competition, which was facilitated by Luke Tembo, a trainer from ZBS (one of the major private media houses in Malawi).
The stories the children are developing will be married with corresponding photos, under the supervision of the Eco-Mentors – who will also train the children in basic photography skills. For some children, we believe this will spark their inspiration and, hopefully, a lifelong passion for environmental photography!
The next phase of the project will be to review the 45 top stories selected from Round 1’s 300 entries, with the final phase being to select the top 15 stories to be published in a photo-story book by the CITW children. These final 15 stories and photos will be the outcome of highly detailed coaching sessions and editing by top Malawian environmental photographers and writers, who have been already approached and are willing to support the children’s work in messaging for sustainable conservation.
By Symon Chibaka – Programme Co-ordinator, CITW Malawi