Finalist – Bolivia: Jovenes de Uspha-Uspha
The project aims to establish an online network for the community Uspha-Uspha. Initially it will be used to promote activities led by youths from the community within the sports and arts program of Proyecto Horizonte. This program is one of our most popular activities, primarily aiming to reduce social insecurity issues such as gang related violence and crime. In time we aim to establish a digital photo/video and story-telling forum where the community can share information about upcoming and past activities, life in Uspha-Uspha and to connect and interact with other communities worldwide.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific community with whom you will be working.
Uspha-Uspha grew from being an illegal settlement ten years ago and has since been severely impoverished and excluded from the nearby city of Cochabamba. The community has become synonymous with high levels of violence. Today escalating gang-related activities and social insecurity are perceived by the population as the most prevalent local problems. Our activities for youth aim to create a positive culture, free from social insecurity and barriers to development, with citizen media production we also hope to promote a sense of collective social inclusion and autonomy. However, due to the exclusion from the city there has not been any permanent internet connection in the community and a large majority of the population have very little or no computer experience or knowledge.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Jovenes de Uspha-Uspha will initially be used to share ideas and get information about the sport and arts activities, both from the ongoing programs as well as from specific events, such as talent nights. In doing so the aim is to train the facilitators in social network usage and then subsequently to train them to teach others. As the participants gain skills and awareness of social networking activities, the reach of the media produced locally will become more widespread. An initial springboard for this goal is already planned; a story-telling project where youths in our school library describe their neighborhood, with their own words and photos.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established that will contribute to the success of the project.
Proyecto Horizonte has been working in the community for the last 8 years, and has established a healthy working relationship with its population. Our sports and arts program is one of the most popular activities among children and youth in all ages, its popularity and the fact that its individual projects are led by youths from the community will be a crucial factor in its success. We know hope to be able to encourage more youths in the community to get involved. As the program develops collaborations with other organizations will be sought for to match the interests of the target population. We already held a activity night in 2013, to which local organisations such as Fundación EnseñARTE and Educar Es Fiesta was invited to inspire the youths of Uspha-Uspha.
How many participants do you think will be involved in your project?
Currently, apart from the school library which is open for students on a daily basis, we have 4 art projects; anime, dance, theater and handicrafts. These are all led by local young facilitators, with approximately 10 participants in each, whom will be trained in social networking and to teach others what they learn. We also have the “My-Neighborhood” project in the library consisting of two groups, with approximately 10 students in each group. Our sport activities are currently has approximately 70 participants. Ultimately we aim to reach out to the entire community which consists of about 1,500 families. In doing so online with local promoters we hope to encourage the organizing of activities, thus creating a self-sustainable network by improved collective activity.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
The project will focus upon the activities which the groups are engaging in and performing, from taking photos and videos and writing about what they do in order to broadcast these activities to a wider group. The participants have previously not had the possibility to gain meaningful experience in digital media production or internet usage, mainly due to lack of organized activities and material resources. The facilitators of each program will meet the local coordinator who has extensive computer and digital media expertise so this can be passed on to facilitators who will in turn instruct the project participants in these skills. In addition all students in the school will be given computer classes.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Proyecto Horizonte operates in two locations in the community; the school and a yard housing the other activities and offices five blocks south of the school. Currently art workshops are held in the school, another yet unconfirmed location will hopefully open up possibilities for more people to participate. Apart from the computer classes given in the school, there are very limited possibilities for our participants to access computer training and the school does not have internet connection. The office building of Proyecto Horizonte currently has a, although unstable, 3G connection, it is in this location where the facilitators meet with the area coordinator, though often without access to computer. The sport and art programs will use laptops and USB-modems, detailed in the budget below.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
During 8 years of operation we have seen remarkable development in the community, still it remains excluded from the nearby city and the majority of the families live below the poverty line. In close collaboration with the community we have been able to identify the need for development with a long-term goal, reaching beyond the provision of immediate assistance by implementing and facilitating education and health, and providing a platform whereby community members can gain technical and life skills. The focus of the current five-year plan of Proyecto Horizonte is primarily upon sustainability and co-responsibility with a vision towards building a model for development, relying strongly on local skills, thus avoiding dependency.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The main challenges faced by the project are low levels of computer and internet familiarity within the community itself and discouraging unmotivated youths from falling into anti- social behaviors, such as joining local criminal gangs. To avoid such challenges Jovenes de Uspha-Uspha will constantly seek for suggestions for possible activities and encourage the initiation of such activities, while at the same time provide tools for acquiring the necessary technical skills, through computer classes and previously mentioned training.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
The ultimate goal of the program is to reduce the social insecurity in the community which is perceived by a large majority of the population to be most serious problem in the community. However, meanwhile diagnostics will indicate the success, the measurability of this issue is difficult to establish since it depends on a great number of factors of which the activities in the current project play an important role. More measurable aims include:
– Increased participation in our sport and art programs
– Increased participation in social networking activities
– Promotional materials produced
– The reach of the project in the arena of social networking
– New initiatives proposed and implemented by youths in the community
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2013?
Jovenes de Uspha-Ushpa held its first event on the 8th of March 2013. On that night a “youth night” was held where music and circus performances were enjoyed by approximately 250 visitors. The arts activities mentioned earlier will run all year, so will football, volleyball and basket classes. During the entire year new initiatives will be encouraged and support to start them up will be offered by the sport and art coordinators. Apart from these ongoing activities the following is planned:
– Three talent nights, to be held in May, August and November
– The “My Neighborhood” project with the school library is about to start with an exposition in June during the anniversary of the community.
The advancement of social networking related to these activities depends largely on the success of ongoing activities along with availability of materials with which they can be documented in a digital form.
Detail a specific budget of up to $4,000 USD for operating costs.
We ask for support to be able to equip the sports and art program with the necessary tools for advancing the aim of the program. It includes purchasing two laptops, a camera, a film camera and a projector for the exposition of their work. We also aim to provide an internet connection for the rest of the year, this will be done through four USB-modems of which two we already possess. Estimated costs are as follows (expressed in US Dollars):
- 2 laptops, 1000
– Camera, 500
– Film camera, 700
– Projector, 450
– Internet (Including two modems), 1050
Besides the microgrant funding, what other resources and support are you seeking for your project to ensure its success?
Through the global network at Rising Voices we hope to be able to get to know and interact with other communities and creative people around the world. We would greatly appreciate support in improving the networking and production of citizen media skills of Jovenes de Uspha-Uspha, to be able to make it attractive and let the youths´ voices be heard not only within their community but also at a global level.