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Trainer Sally-Jean Shackleton assisting participant with development of digital story.

Margaret Sanger Center International (MSCI) and Women's Net conducted a five-day training workshop about creating digital stories for eight women and one man representing community organizations in Soweto and Orange Farm, South Africa. The workshop facilitated the production of nine short digital stories that were written, narrated, and illustrated by the participants whose lives have been affected by a wide range of sexual and reproductive health and rights issues, including HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, rape, sexual abuse, and teen pregnancy. Click on the screen below to watch the story of one woman who survived rape and HIV infection.

"Silence Is Not Golden"


You can also watch the videos Take a Step -- Be Heard and My Story, by Tukula.

Storytelling has long been a tool for learning lessons, preserving memory and history, transmitting culture and tradition, and entertaining others. Tales of healing and caution have been told for centuries and valued by both the teller and the listener. For those relating a story, it has value as a form of expression and healing; and for the listener, as a vehicle for in learning and sharing. Everyone has stories to tell; it is in the telling that we discover how much of our experiences and learning we have in common with others. Stories validate our connection with others and with the world. They weave together our individual experiences to reveal a picture of a community, a group, an organization, and a country. The "digital" in digital storytelling refers to the medium used to transmit stories. Digital stories, simply, are stories produced, stored, and disseminated using digital media.

Trainer Sally-Jean Shackleton of Women'sNet, Errol Alexis of MSCI, and participants viewing their digital stories.

Here is the poignant and compelling story of Mama Rose, the director and founder of Let Us Grow, a community organization in Orange Farm that provides home-based care and support to people living with HIV:

"I care for others, as I care for myself. I became HIV positive as a result of a gang rape. I know, in the most painful way possible, the link between HIV and AIDS and gender violence. I tell my story over and over again, to get the government to provide Post Exposure Prophylaxis to survivors of gender violence in the hope others will avoid the fate that befell me. I tell my story to heal the pain of a life punctuated at every turn by violence, yet redeemed by the power of turning anger into activism. This is not only my story: but the story of three generations: of me, my daughter Mpho, and my grand daughter Kgomotso."

A DVD containing these stories is being distributed to the participants, MSCI's partner organizations, donors, and other interested groups.

Errol Alexis of MSCI and Sally-Jean Shackelton of Women'sNet with participants after the training.

Groups may use the digital stories as a resource to assist them in their advocacy, awareness, and prevention work concerning gender-based violence, other human rights abuses and the spread of HIV/AIDS. The digital stories will be used at community educational workshops, community Imbizos (informal gatherings), and during campaigns including "Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence," Worlds AIDS Day, and International Women's Day.

"Sharing my story with other participants helped me a lot. I got to talk about things that are not good inside me and it gave me power. I feel strong and healed. My participation was good and I learned a lot. I hope my story helps others and saves many lives."

- Participant in the Digital Storytelling Workshop