Orbis harnesses film to drive avoidable childhood blindness in Africa
Anthrolopologist Dr Susan Levine’s study, the first of its kind in Africa, revealed a series of barriers and obstacles that are preventing children from accessing vital medical intervention which could prevent childhood blindness. “Overcoming these barriers required innovative communication methods hence Orbis Africa’s decision to harness the power of film,” explains Lene Øverland Orbis Africa CEO. “Facilitated Film Screenings have proven to be an effective communications tool for achieving social change.”
Orbis Africa partnered with STEPS (Social Transformation and Empowerment Projects) who pioneered the facilitated film screening methodology. STEPS, a special collaboration between filmmakers from Southern Africa and European broadcasters, produced the documentary to initiate social change and pioneer awareness of eye disease.
The film Ngiyakubona (I See You) was piloted for the KwaZulu-Natal province and reflects on the experiences of two children, Innocent and Minenhle, who suffered from congenital bilateral cataracts. The film, which is produced in Zulu with English subtitles, provides personal accounts from family members on how they dealt with their child’s eye condition, how it impacted on the family and how they overcame multiple obstacles so that the children could undergo sight saving surgery. The film encourages the viewer to seek treatment immediately if they notice any problem with their child’s vision.
The STEPS facilitated screening model combines film with facilitation as a powerful tool to promote debate and discussion and bring about enlightened social change. STEPS film screenings are always contextualised with personal testimonies and are followed by a discussion where facilitators encourage the audience to decide on individual and group action as a way forward. Actions can include challenging stigma and discrimination, the decision to seek services or to advocate for access to high quality equitable eye health services.
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