We will train residents of the Darashakran and Kawergosk refugee camps outside Erbil, Iraq to use simple technology already in their hands to share stories of their lives as refugees and displaced persons with audiences in Iraq and abroad. Participants will be taught digital storytelling, democratic participation skills and publishing to a website. We will collaborate with Warvin Foundation for Women to train 25 participants over three days, set up mentors from the Iraqi Network for Social Media, and create partnerships within the camp for participants to train other camp residents.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
Between 150,000 and 250,000 Syrian refugees have immigrated to northern Iraq since 2012 – seeking sanctuary in refugee camps as the conflict escalates in Syria. Story of Life was created in 2013 during the U.S. Institute of Peace’s Tech Camp in Iraq; the two-day conference linked Civil Society NGOs with local and regional technologists to empower their work. The project was created by Kara Andrade, a journalist and trainer, and the Iraqi Network For Social Media. Kara visited the Darashakran and Kawergosk refugee camps, met with potential participants and organizations like Warvin about their interest in collaborating. The majority of refugees have access to cellphones, some with Internet, and Kawergosk has a K-10 school building with access to Internet on 8-10 computers using USB modems.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
Abdulrahman Mohammed, director of Warvin Foundation for Women’s Issues www.warvin.org, will coordinate the training and outreach. Warvin trains on women’s empowerment, domestic violence and sexual abuse awareness, and civil society building. Khidher Domle, professor at the University of Duhok, has agreed to be the media trainer. Hayder Hamzoz, http://tinyurl.com/py94hw4, trainer at the University of Baghdad, Gulf Center For Human Rights, and coordinator for the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM) will train and provide mentors. Kara Andrade will be training lead for the team. Kara is co-founder of HablaCentro NFP which develops curriculum to help people in Latin America become more digitally literate and civically engaged. She has ten years of experience in journalism and organizing.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
Participants will create a total of 15-25 first person narratives, public interest and feature stories. The stories will be in any of the following formats – audio, video, audiovisual slideshows, or photo/stills – and will be crafted in partnership with a mentor. The stories will be published on the citizen journalism platform (already created) that is localized, secure, open source and integrated with Youtube, social media and mobile applications. Stories will also be re-published in the INSM blogger networks as well as, local Iraqi media partners. There will be public screening of stories completed at both refugee camps and a printed “chapbook”.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
The United States Institute of Peace awarded us a mini-grant to help us with some of the costs associated with the website development and some of the event costs. Warvin will be the formal grant partner in helping us implement the project and we have already visited, in person, both refugee camps. While visiting the camps we secured contacts for recruiting participants and creating a network of organizations to support trained participants after the completion of the training. We also have a couple of local media outlets interesting in partnering with us to publish content on their websites or incorporating our citizen journalism platform to their larger platform.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
The primary stakeholders are refugees from the Darashakran and Kawergosk camps who will participate in the trainings. Darashakran, with approximately 6,040 individuals, and Kawergosk, with 13, 324 individuals (UNHCR November 2013 data) are camps that are experiencing an influx of refugees, many of them young people. The initial 15-25 participants will directly benefit from the training and the collaboration between different groups to make it possible for them to contribute their stories. We estimate that within two months of the completion of the training at least 5-7 of those participants will teach at least another 20 participantes and the number of trained contributors will grow exponentially. Warvin and INSEM will make it possible to provide more trainers and organize more trainings.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
We will focus on teaching the narrative arc and how to tell a story using any medium available. The technologies we will focus on are the ones the participants are most comfortable with and most readily available to them. We will teach them how to plot a story, storyboard it using paper and pencil, then how to construct these stories using cameras on mobile phones, video and photo editing; SMS and texting for reporting, audio recording and editing using Audacity. We will then teach them how to produce the story and distribute it using social media and create a strategy to reach “gatekeepers” and bigger audiences. Through our diverse set of skills we will be able to teach on all of the above to this group of participants and to also reach and widely distribute the stories.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
We are reviewing various outside venues that Warvin has secured in the past. All the venues are safe establishments (smaller hotels) with ADSL and WI-FI and catering services provided by the hotel.
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?
Since September 2013 we have worked closely with Hayder Hamzoz who was part of our working group at PeaceTechCamp Iraq developing the project; he has close ties to all technologists in Iraq. I met with Abdulrahman Mohammed, director of Warvin Foundation for Women’s Issues, and he felt this project was relevant for young people in the camps. Abdulrahman and Warvin are trusted by the refugees in the camps because of the quality of their work there. Our other local partner, the Refugee Integration Support and Education (RISE) Foundation www.rise-foundation.org, has been working with refugees living in the camps and in the cities. Through RISE we will identify children to participate in the trainings and work closely with them to tell their stories of displaced childhood.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The challenges are: (1) financial logistics because there are very few banks to make financial transactions possible; (2) communication challenges with the various forms of Kurdish and Arabic; (3) instability in the region and (4) security clearances for the participants. Warvin will make it possible to coordinate the logistics of payment, securing a venue, communicating and transporting participants. Warvin and Khadir Domle will provide translators for Kurmanji Kurdish, widely spoken in the camps. The U.S. Institute of Peace’s support, both with funding and security clearances, will make it possible to safely transport participants with the legal permissions to a venue. During emergencies, USIP will help us respond quickly and expedite communication among partners and participants.
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
We will measure our success by:
(1) Successful completion of storytelling course; Quizzes at the end of each module. Specific story projects to be turned in with the completion of each module.
(2)The collection of 15 stories by the core group of trained storytellers working under a local mentor from the Iraqi Network for Social Media (INSM).
(3) Successful completion of digitizing and uploading stories to the citizen journalism platform.
Screening of stories completed during a public screening or open viewing event.
(4) Launching of a citizen journalism platform that is secure, open source and integrated with Youtube, social media and mobile applications (site traffic and usage statistics (goal = 250 unique users per week by project end).
(5) Hosting of a public event and showcase in each
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
Here are the main benchmarks for our timeline:
June 2014: Planning and Coordinating for Digital Storytelling Course and Sessions
July 2014: Planning and Coordinating for Digital Storytelling Course and Sessions
End of July and August 2014: Launch of Digital Storytelling Course and Story Production
September 2014: Launch of Citizen Journalism Website and Public Screening
November 2014: Evaluation
Individual activities are listed here: http://tinyurl.com/o5kj7d4
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Stipends for trainers (4 trainers x $100) $ 400.00
Venue for training ($100 per day x 3 to 4 days) $ 400.00
Food for 2 public showcases (50 people per camp X $9) $ 900.00
Rental of audio visual equipment $ 200.00
Translators for training ($150 per day x 4 days) $ 600.00
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Rising Voices can help us with any potential translators and bloggers who can help us re-publish the content. We will also need help with researching corporations, local businesses, foundations other potential funders who have an interest in the project. In particular, we will be looking for influential people who are stakeholders to act as program champions.
Warvin Foundation for Women’s Issues