For almost five years, I have been traveling back and forth from Sag Harbor, NY to Senegal to document the work of an amazing NGO called TOSTAN. Through their human rights education program throughout Senegal and other African countries, Tostan participants use African traditions like music, dance, theater and debate to reach their own understanding of human rights and democracy, and to find ways of applying their new knowledge within their own communities.
My film package is now finished and has been accepted into some film festivals and also gained worldwide distribution. It is intended as an educational package to serve as a vehicle for debate around human rights issues as well as a superb model for human rights education that may be applied universally.
WALKING WITH LIFE is the umbrella title for three related films, available as a collection on one DVD or as individual films.
“YOU MUST WALK WITH LIFE OR YOU WILL GET LEFT BEHIND…”
A Senegalese proverb
WALKING WITH LIFE –
The Birth of a Human Rights Movement in Africa – 39mns
Punctuated by the songs of a griot or oral historian, this film – shot entirely on location in Senegal - pulses to the dramatic beat of traditional theatre, music and dance. These tools are used by Tostan, an award-winning NGO, to help people discover their human rights and the meaning of democracy. Their new learning inspires participants to re-examine ancient customs, such as female genital cutting and forced early marriage. Health and hygiene, community resources, environmental issues and girls’ education are all scrutinized through the lens of human rights.
As positive social changes sweep the country, the people of Senegal rejoice in triumph. Whisked from the placid villages of the Casamance to the harsh desert of the Fouta and the teeming streets of Dakar, viewers become eye-witnesses to the empowerment of people through human rights education.
TOSTAN: Building Partnerships Through
Human Rights Education 32:13mns
This companion film illuminates Tostan’s profound philosophy after more than thirty years of field experience in several African countries, as illustrated by the program in Senegal and Guinea. Consultation with civic, political and religious leaders and respect for traditional culture are at the root of Tostan’s success as a universal model for human rights education.
HUMAN RIGHTS CITIES: Paths To Peace – 16:00mns
Twenty-one cities around the world, including Rosario, Argentina; Graz, Austria; and Korogocho, Kenya, have made a commitment to run all social, political, economic and cultural aspects of city life according to the human rights framework. The film documents the process in Thies, Senegal, and in Washington, D.C.