Rivers of life – digital storytelling in Russia
Here at Partnership for Every Child Russia, we have been using the digital storytelling (DST) process for a year now. In 2013 we made stories with children using different prompts such as “My first school day”, “How did I come to orphanage”, “One week of my life” and others. They were used as a means of creating a sort of union of children from orphanages and as a way to hear children’s voices and opinions. They are now used as an example for others who make stories.
This September we started the new Family DST process with three different groups in Saint Petersburg.
Two groups are made up of children. Children who live in orphan houses are very fascinated with the storytelling process as they can speak their thoughts and express emotions, sometimes rather hard ones. Drawings and images help them to feel safe and free to create their own stories. And children really enjoy working with digital technologies. In the first sessions children learnt about the storytelling process and tried to see their life at a whole.
Another group consists of parents of children with special needs and members of professional partnership families from the short-break foster care service. Through the use of digital storytelling we try to research the life experiences of different families. Personal stories of parents of invalid children can show that it’s not only children who need help and support, but their parents and the whole family as well. For parents this workshop was also a chance to communicate with other families about the very same problems and feel that they are not alone. In the first session, parents tried to imagine and draw a “river of life”. Drawing fragments from their life, adults felt strong emotions and excitement, and they saw that the ways they have managed to live through the difficulties are unique. DST is a chance to share this important experience with others.
The P4EC staff also like the process very much! DST is a way to communicate with a child, to make a trustful relationship and help a person to grow up, the main aim of anything you do with children in orphanages. Like with any training process, each meeting brings surprising and exciting moments.
Participants of each group and our facilitators are enthusiastic for further work with digital stories.