VietNamNet Bridge – Life was beautiful in Thuan Commune – once. Now it floods in the winter, broils in the summer, lies wreathed in mist for the rest of the year, and the children have to scavenge for food.
HTML clipboard Students learn how to adapt to and minimise the impacts of climate change at Dinh Bang Primary School in Bac Ninh Province. (Photo: VNS)
"Previously, there was no fog and the weather in our village was much better, but in recent years, fog covers our village every morning, the temperature gets hotter in the summer and floods, droughts happen more frequently."
The children from Thuan Commune have made an eight-minute documentary about life in the village.
The short film, narrated by Ho La Hoi, an eighth grade student, was shown by Plan International at a workshop in Ha Noi last week. The audience consisted of educators, aid workers and NGO staff.
The audience saw, in an unsentimental way, how the village's bedraggled children have to forage for food. The narrator even describes how children take home dead carcasses to eat.
"Before it floods, villagers should build cement water tanks to store clean water, bring food to safe places like the school and the People's Committee offices," Hoi says in a voice-over.
Nguyen Trong Ninh, Disaster Risk Management manager from Plan International, agrees. He says the commune's children should take the initiative and help themselves.
The short documentary was the brainchild of Plan International. The organisation ran a film-making course for the children of Thuan Commune in Huong Hoa District and neighbouring A Ngo Commune, in Dakrong District in Central Quang Tri Province.
"Making documentaries gives the children in the region an opportunity to have their voices heard. They too can participate in disaster-risk reduction plans."
Ninh says 90 per cent of the children in the two communes have embraced the idea of film making.
"This is an effective tool of communications and policy dissemination," Ninh added.
Nguyen Van Gia, Emergency Programme Sector head from Save the Children said children should be encouraged to help themselves. Gia said Save the Children had been working on child-focused, child-led disaster-prevention programmes at commune level.
"In certain communes, children now take part in the distribution of life vests and raincoats in case of disasters," Gia said.
"Children are very creative. We adults need to respect and listen to their ideas."
At the workshop, Le Thi Kim Anh, deputy head of the Department of Education and Training in Quang Ngai Province, shared with the audience her province's experience in educating children on climate change and disaster prevention.
Anh said local schools had taught children about disaster preparedness but said the lessons had been uninspiring.
"During most lessons, children just passively listened to their teachers and they were not properly encouraged to talk about what they thought or felt," she said.
But now things have changed, with the help of NGOs and local authorities. Disaster education is now an extra-curricular activity. Schools organise field trips to disaster-prone areas and show in a practical way what can be done to minimise the effects of global warming.
Children play environmentally oriented games, memorise songs and poems, draw pictures, recount real-life experiences.
Children are also encouraged to express their own opinions, rather than relate the words of their teachers.
The experience, says Anh, can, and has been, life-changing.
"Children are active and enthusiastic if they are respected and are made to feel important."
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News