In late July, a special workshop was held at DEPDC/GMS in Mae Sai for ten youth leaders from the Mekong Youth Net (MYN) in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma). The MYN is a group of youth leaders that went through a 3-year training programme initiated by DEPDC/GMS in 2004. It established a network of grassroots anti-trafficking projects throughout the Greater Mekong Sub-region as a link between individuals as well as non-governmental and governmental organisations. The Mekong Youth Union (MYU) is the umbrella organisation of the MYN. It is located in Mae Sai and runs a training centre to further develop the Child Voice Media projects of DEPDC/GMS, namely Child Voice TV, Child Voice Radio and Child Voice News. The workshop consisted of a 3-day intensive programme led by Matthias Lehmann, a German staff member at DEPDC/GMS’ International Department, and translated by Amy, a volunteer from Thailand.
On the first day, the workshop taught the participants how to organise an editorial department. The participants then gathered the topics they would like to feature in the newspaper and were given assignments to prepare for the second day. Among the suggested topics were, to name but a few, the culture and traditions of ethnic groups in the region, health education, the difficulties ethnic minorities face in Myanmar, interviews with staff and children from other NGOs, information about local events and landmarks, introducing people of the local community, as well as information about the mission and activities of DEPDC/GMS.
Throughout Day 2, participants wrote and edited their articles and selected images to go along with them. Afterwards, two models for the structure of the newspaper were developed and discussed. On the third day, participants learnt how to research and choose images to effectively convey a message, how to edit and improve images using an image editor, and how to create newspaper pages using a publishing programme. The third day concluded with participants filling out a questionnaire to evaluate the workshop. All participants stated that they had become more interested in the newspaper project as a result of the workshop and would participate in varying degrees. Everybody welcomed the idea for a second workshop if it were to be offered and preparations for that are already underway.
Let’s hear what Amy has to say about her experience at the workshop. “I was astonished by how hard-working the youth leaders are. Although it seemed like they have a lot on their plates already, they pursued this project with passion. They had so many good ideas about how they are planning to make the newspaper relevant and interesting. They put so much energy into the work that they are doing, which I admire so much. Matthias also did an excellent job teaching them very useful computer skills and they all praised the session about that.”
Matthias observed that he “was impressed how the participants’ motivation accelerated over the three days. It boosted my own motivation and I am already planning the next workshop for the MYN youth leaders, this time led by a team of Thai journalists. It was great to work together with the youth leaders and Amy for three full days and apart from the work we accomplished, I was really glad to get to know all of them better.”
Child Voice News is intended to be published monthly in Thai, with a digest version in English every 3 months, so stay tuned for future updates!