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Girls’ Voices Day 7 & 8: Dreams of Education

Our final days of the Girls’ Voices program in Guatemala included a 2-day workshop that took place this past Saturday & Sunday.

We started at 9:30am Saturday morning with games led by Javier. The girls reflected on what they were learning from the games –  “if we all work together we can achieve whatever we set our mind to,” and “team support is very important.” These lessons that had been evident throughout the week of filming would now be our explicit group mantra for our last two days of editing.

We then showed the short documentary “Rosa – These Storms” by Living on One as an example of a powerful narration by a strong Guatemalan woman from their very own district.  The girls sat captivated, internalizing the potential reach and strength of their personal narrations, identifying with many of the struggles Rosa brought up in the film. While we watched the movie, the producer Zach Ingrasci wrote a personalized note to the girls, “Yes please let them know I am rooting for them and am so excited to see what they create.”

Then, as editing turned up on double speed, the girls who were not at the two computer stations went outside to participate in a photography workshop. In teams, the girls practiced framing, shooting patterns, surroundings, motion, and “moments.” A little photographic competition followed, in which they had to take pictures of both specific scenarios (like “enjoying nature”) and what they wanted to do in their future.

By the end of the day, every single girl had finished her video, save for a few minor details. The girls ate dinner, chatted, watched a movie, and eventually drifted off to sleep. This way, they would not have to take the long trip to and from Panajachel twice, which ranges from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours on foot, bus and boat.

The morning began with breakfast and a pre-screening of every girl’s video, and an informal feedback session. Each filmmaker practiced her introduction for the real screening on Wednesday – “Hola, me llamo Ana, y estoy muy orgullosa de mi filma… (Hi my name is Ana and I am very proud of my film…)” “Hola, me llamo Maria y quiero compartir mi video sobre la tinta natural… (Hi my name is Maria and I want to share my video about natural dye),” and so on, until all nine girls had spoken.  After more pictures and project evaluation interviews, we ate lunch and departed.

In a final check-out circle, the girls shared that they were happy with their work and proud of what they had accomplished in such a short amount of time. The filmmakers of the group was glowing with excitement and anticipation for the premier on Wednesday when they will share their short films with their communities. And for after Wednesday, when their videos will be shared with the world.

Yo quiero compartir con el mundo la realidad de Guatemala y mis sueños de la educación (I want to share with the world the reality of Guatemala and my dreams for education),” explained Lucy.

This desire to show and explain the beautiful yet difficult life in Guatemala, a country with so much riqueza (richness) but limited opportunity, is a theme in each and every one of the girls’ films.  These girls dream for education despite all the obstacles circumstance has placed in their way. These are the girls who at 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17, have managed to stay in school despite the fact that less than 30% of poor, rural indigenous girls are enrolled in secondary school.

The difficult reality is that about half of these girls – the ones who have already managed to defy the odds of dropping out of school – miss around two days of school per week on average due to lack of funds.

The not so difficult reality is that, while the cost of school may be prohibitively expensive for an impoverished family on the banks of Lake Atitlan, with a group effort each and every girl who wants to can get an education and have the future they desire and deserve.

by Daniel Olitzky, March 1, 2017