Future Guardians of Peace
An estimated 250,000 children are exploited every day as child soldiers around the world. There are more than 30,000 former child soldiers in the West African nation of Liberia alone, many of whom are eager to help rebuild their country.
Photojournalist Andre Lambertson conducted a weeklong training with seven former child soldiers in Liberia and helped them produce this collaborative video. He literally handed them the camera and got them to interview each other – a novel and intriguing approach to getting inside a story.
In the video we meet the former soldiers and hear their painful stories of violence and loss. Now in their late teens and early twenties, these young men have resumed their interrupted schooling, extricated themselves from the drug-and-alcohol culture of their war buddies, and are working hard to earn the respect of a suspicious community. They now proudly call themselves “Future Guardians of Peace”.
In an accompanying separate video, Lambertson gives insights on how to approach this type of project. He emphasizes the importance of first gaining the trust of community members and then having them tell their own stories and do their own interviews, resulting in a much deeper story than one told by an outsider. They are likely to ask questions that an outsider wouldn’t even think to ask. He also recommends assigning a specific role (e.g. interviewing, shooting, editing) to each individual based on a person’s strengths; reviewing the material as you go along, to figure out what needs to be filled in; and most importantly, taking the completed project back to the community and sharing it where it will be most valued. Collaborative video empowers communities and no one feels exploited, he says.
Future Guardians of Peace is an organization dedicated to supporting former child soldiers and war-affected youth in Liberia to become leaders in peace-building and environmental restoration through photography.
This project was produced by Everyday Gandhis in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and is featured on YouTube’s Project: Report videojournalism channel.
Producer: Cynthia Travis
Co-Producer: William Saa
Video: Andre Lambertson (and Akoi Mawolo, Ezekiel Mavolo, Lassana Kaneh, Mohammed Kamara, Morris Kamara, Varlee Sheriff)
Editor: Vincent Stenerson