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Our Africa: Life through a lens

Sudanese children focus on filming
Sudanese children focus on filming

What happens when you give children across Africa a digital camcorder and a chance to talk about their lives on film? To celebrate the 40th anniversary of SOS Children in Africa, Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children, decided to find out.

All too often global perceptions about Africa are shaped by emotive TV coverage of suffering and strife. Others try to understand Africa’s children by looking at poverty statistics. But if you really want to know what children there think, why not simply ask them? So that’s what we did.

Our aims

Our Africa is an unashamedly ambitious web project intended to present a more authentic picture of Africa, as seen through the eyes of its children. We wanted to challenge stereotypes and showcase the tremendous diversity of voices from across the continent. We began by running workshops to teach local children and young people living in SOS Children’s Villages how to plan, script, shoot and edit their films. As well as learning new skills, the children were left with a camera and video-editing equipment, together with a trained local youth leader to run a local film-making club.Our Africa Namibia children filming

Authentic voices

In the films the young reporters speak candidly about what matters most to them and what they would change – from family, education and politics to aspirations for work and marriage. Their breadth of ideas and creativity were striking. In addition to the videos, the website is packed with useful facts about the continent’s food, climate, health, sport and wildlife. There is also information about the impact of war, poverty, famine and development programmes.

See for yourself

The site will continue to evolve, so please keep coming back to take a look. We hope it will offer you a deeper understanding about the people and places that make Africa what it is today, thanks to a privileged insight from some of its very talented young people.

Behind the camera in Ethiopia

Chief Our Africa reporters in Ethiopia, Addisu (17) and Habtam (18) (see photo, below), were brought up at the SOS Children’s Village in Addis Ababa. They now live in an SOS Youth Home and are studying for University – both are exceptionally clever students. Addisu is the joker and Habtam is more serious, although she is crazy about football.Our Africa - Ethiopia filming

They said: “It has been a lot of fun creating films and reporting on our lives. Sometimes we kept making each other laugh and had to do a few takes with the videos! Ethiopia is a very beautiful country and there is so much more to see than what is shown on TV across the world. While Ethiopia is known for devastating droughts, it is also a country full of colour, culture and opportunity. Just see for yourself.”

Award-winning acclaim

Our Africa received a resounding endorsement when it won the prestigious New Media Award at the 2012 One World Media Awards, a high-profile annual event that rewards the most outstanding media coverage of the developing world. The award was presented by Jon Snow from Channel 4 News.

The judges said: “This website was the unanimous winner. It represents everything the One World Media Awards are meant to celebrate. The site opens a window into the lives of young people from Morocco to South Africa. It challenges the cliché of the poverty-stricken African child, demonstrating that children have the same sense of fun the world over.”

Visit Our Africa.