We are so excited to have launched our first Ufulu Group this June! The past few months have been full of meetings, paperwork, and all the tiny, but lengthy and important details that go into registering an organisation. We are thrilled to announce that our registrations have been approved with the Malawi Government! Three cheers!
Ufulu Groups is pleased to be partnering with New Beginnings for their first Lilongwe Group! New Beginnings is a local ministry in Lilongwe that has been operating for one year. They work specifically with expectant girls and young mothers who need support. Together, we are offering the women in our group:
Hair and Make-up Training
Child care for their children
Budget and Business Trainings
Healing and Trauma Counselling
We are so thrilled to be joining forces to empower and equip these young mothers!
Along with our first official group comes all the “fun parts”. Sharing stories, showing our day to day trainings and routines, celebrating successes and learning from challenges. One thing that you might notice with our photos, videos and story-telling is that you may not see many faces. You also may see some photos with faces blurred out. We wanted to share with you the “why” behind these photos.
Our Core Value #7 states…..
We believe in telling the stories of life change in our single parents and their families with permission, dignity and respect.
One of the first items we go over with our parents who enter our program is a media consent form. This form asks each parent permission to share their photo, their story, their names, and even their voices. It gives them full power over how they do or do not want to be portrayed on social media and with our donors. The parents are told very clearly that their answers on their media consent form do not in any way affect their status in our program.
I wanted to share a bit of a personal story that made this Core Value so important to us and was a factor in shaping our view on the importance of media consent forms.
A couple of years ago, my family of 6, along with our friends were at the airport waiting to pick up some people. We were sitting in seats and just chatting with each other. Out of no where, a group of young adults ran toward us and grabbed my arm and started posing with me and taking pictures. They also continued to do this with my children and my friend. It happened so fast, I really did not have time to process the event. But, when they left, my friend and I started talking, and we both felt kinda violated. The young adults did not ask us our names; they did not ask us permission to take our pictures. We had no idea what exactly they were doing with our photos, and I was pretty uneasy about where the photos would end up- especially those photos with my children in them. It really made me think about how I felt and how I see visitors constantly doing this here in Malawi.
Malawi hosts many visitors, especially during the Summer months, as lots of teams are coming into country to do short term missions trips. We see well meaning and curious tourists get off the plane with cameras in tow, snapping pictures of new sights, people, peculiar things and cute children. I wonder if the people who are having their pictures snapped wonder who it is that is taking their photo and what they plan to do with them? I relate as a mother to how uncomfortable/scary it is not knowing where your child’s photo is going to show up. And if we are not ok with people coming into our neighbourhoods and taking pictures of our homes, children, etc. without permission, than we shouldn’t be ok with doing that to other people, even if they don’t look like they care.
For these reasons, we want the parents in our program to feel comfortable that they have the power over their photos. I used to think that Malawian people were just friendly and enjoyed having their photos taken and really didn’t care if strangers were coming into their neighbourhoods/villages and snapping pictures of their house, family, children without permission. But then, as we started using the media consent forms, we actually realised that this was false thinking on our part. Actually, many people do really care and have an opinion on the topic. As we launched our first group, all of the women in our group, except for one, asked for their face not to be shown when sharing photos on social media and with donors.
So, we continue to learn and strive to do better and earnestly try to live out our Core Value #7.
Check out this website ethical storytelling, for great resources and conversations on how to ethically tell stories for those people you are working and serving with. We hope to continue to listen and learn from others on how to grow as better ethical storytellers.