BUILDING BRIDGES: "We need to partner and collaborate with countries of origin"

End FGM Ambassador, Djenab Diallo, shares her experience of the video production workshop hosted in Burkina Faso organised by our member AIDOS.

I was immediately interested by the project; “Building Bridges Between Africa and Europe to End FGM” initiated by the organization, AIDOS. I believe and have always believed, that to end female genital mutilation, we must do more than just formal decision making and introducing new legislation. We need to partner and collaborate with countries of origin where FGM is rooted. Determined to persue this, I applied to the video production workshop in Burkina Faso.

This was my first time in Burkina Faso. People there are very friendly, generous and warm to foreigners. I literally felt at home. Arriving at the first day for the workshop, I was immediately drawn in. There were 15 participants in total from both African and European countries including Mali, Guinee, Burkina Faso, Senegal, France and Bulgaria. We discussed the difficulties and barriers faced by Africa and Europe in the fight against FGM and shared some solutions that could be potentially explored including how to engage the issue of FGM with different communities.

One of the Burkina Faso workshop participants told the group that when she visits a village to raise awareness about the risks and consequences of FGM, it is important not address the issue straight away. Instead, she stays at the village, takes the time to get know everyone and to become part of the village community.

Slowly, she begins to engage with the community on the subject of FGM in an effort to better understand their reasons for practicing it. Afterwards, she presents evidence of the consequences surrounding FGM, the risks related to it and why they should abandon the harmful practice. Her method helps her to send a message in a subtle but persuasive manner that can have a more long-term impact leading to better results.

It was extremely enriching to share the experiences of this battle with others in the field. In the following days of the workshop, the team took part in the writing and producing of a video project surrounding the issue of FGM.

Video production has a lot of creative requirement. We learned the importance of planning in the production process: Thinking about your targets; what are the messages you will portray? What are your goals and the feasibilities? After that, comes the writing process and yes...more planning!

The last stage is the editing of which, in my opinion, is the most difficult. Especially syncing image with sound! However, I have learned so much and I am improving. For now, my team and I – from both Bulgaria and Mali – have entered into the post-production phase and are looking forward to the finalising the end product.

I had no previous experience in the field of video production but since doing the workshop, I’m convinced it’s an essential tool for creating awareness - especially in our current social climate where the internet is so widely available and social networking used as a platform for information sharing . Now I can use this new skill to share my productions through various online mediums in order to have a greater impact in the fight against FGM.

In addition, sharing with the different participants in the workshop allowed me to grow and better understand the issue of FGM and the reasons behind why certain communities practice it. I am hoping this will better assist me in discussing the issue more openly with practicing communities to help them better understand the harmful consequences and risks associated with FGM.

I would really like to thank AIDOS for their innovative initiative. I believe that it is only the beginning of something great and hope that one day FGM will be a part of our past. Thank you to all the incredible people I met in Burkina Faso who gave me so much: you are like family to me.

Djenab x

Click for more photos of the workshop