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Organisation trains Women who have Sex with Women to use Digital Stories

I have been meaning to make posts telling you about what has been happening in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe at the Sxual Rights Centre. I have been training eight women who have Sex with Women WSW) to use digital stories to tell stories of the lives. For some, this was the first time to share their stories. We designed this diital storytelling training so that it would bring healing and that WSW could open up and tell their stories which have remained silenced for long. Many shared for the first time how they have been repetedly raped, physically assulted and evicted from their homes because of their sexual rientation.

The Training

The digital storytelling training is part of a project titled "Bringing the Voices Back from the Margins". The project is aimed at using digital storytelling to record the experiences of Zimbabwean lesbians, commercial sex workers, women living in institutions and women with pyschosocial disabilities.

The training was in two phase following a successful training of four trainers from the Sexual Rights Centre by Women'Net in South Africa in February this year. The training used digital stories to raise their voices and document their experiences and challenges in a creative way.

Sensitisation meetings

We conducted a sensitisation meeting with the groups that we will be working with. During the meeting, beneficiaries raised a lot of issues around challenges that they are currently facing and issues they would like to document. Of major interest is the violation of their human rights by the police and the unfriendly legislation which leads to their abuse. Other issues that imaged centred on their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Issues raised by participants are critical because they shape the focus of our digital story telling training workshops theme.

Training of trainers _ Digital story telling skills building and strengthening

The Sexual Rights Centre send four representatives from our organisation to attend a Digital storytelling training workshop which was attended by 11 participants in Johannesburg, South Africa. The training lasted for four and a half days from the 16th to 20th of February 2010. The workshop was facilitated by Women’sNet and each participant produced a 5 minute digital story. The digital storytelling workshop run under the theme HIV/AIDS and women’s rights and it focused on movement building.

Participants learned to use different computer software to tell a story digitally. This was an empowering experience for our representative and the organisation as a whole. Although sending four representatives to be trained proved to be very expensive, we strongly feel that it was cost effective because the team of trainers will be facilitating a series of workshops targeting different people.

Trained facilitators imparting the knowledge they gained and the skills to other beneficiaries of the project. The digital storytelling training will be delivered in two phases to ensure that participants (who are not very technologically confident) have enough time to write their stories, gather materials and pictures, record their stories and edit them.

We had a professional counselor who offered support, particularly when people are sharing their personal stories. The idea behind having a professional counsellor was to provide some form of healing as well. The counselor offered emotional support.

Participants for the workshop were selected based on their computer skills and their emotional readiness.

Phase one_Digital storytellng training

The first phase comprised of a three-day workshop. Participants shared their stories, wrote them, took pictures and images to use to retell their stories. They also learned to use the software to edit pictures, audio and to make movies.

Phase two_Digital Storytelling training

The second phase of the training was more technical. Participants focused their attention on editing their images, importing all the materials they would need into their computers and creating their movies. Each participant was expected to produce a digital story not more than five minutes long. Due to the intensity of the work, we used four facilitators who provided participants with technical support. Each facilitator worked with two participants.

# Participants produced eight digital stories.
#Capacity building for eight Women who have Sex with Women (WSW) to use digital stories to amplify their voices.
# Participants noted that the training was therapeutic. They said telling their stories (for the first time) had a healing effect.
# Participants also noted that their stories built their confidence and self esteem. Others said sharing and retelling their stories built hope and made them understand that their stories can change the lives of others not just in Zimbabwe but worldwide.

Planned activities
All digital stories have been finalised. Participants have given us their consent to showcase their digital stories to our stakeholders for the first time. We will have a film screening before mid May 2010 and this event will bring down the curtains for our digital storytelling training.,


jadefrank's picture

digital storytelling

Hi Gertrude,

It's great to hear from you and get an update on the important projects happening at the Sexual Rights Center in Bulawayo. Digital storytelling is such a powerful tool for women to exercise their voice and to share it with others. Especially for those who have been through abuse or other traumatic experiences. People keep so much bottled up inside, what a healthy release to share their story and encourage other who are in similar situations, as well as educate the general public on important issues, like Human Rights. Congratulations on your work! I think many others can learn from your accomplishments, so it's wonderful that you're sharing here on PulseWire.

In friendship,

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Starland's picture

Great Idea!

I love the idea of digital writing about such "sensitive" (is that another word for judgment producing?) subjects. It also sounds VERY empowering. Hurayyyyy! Great work! Thanks for sharing.

K-lee 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Sharese's picture



This is great! Giving marginalized women a voice is something that is extremely powerful! I applaud your organization for doing this.

I also want to let you know that I *might* be traveling to Zimbabwe this coming January (my best friend is Pregnant so I want to come and spend time with her and her newborn!) and I would love to visit your organization in Bulawayo. Please let me know if that is a possibility.

Much Peace and Love,


cad_communication's picture

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Dearest friend,
We will be more than honoured. January sounds great. I will mention this to our Director. We can be in touch in January and you can let men know the specific date you will be able to visit us.
I look forward to meeting you in person

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