Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/More recording in Syria

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More recording in Syria

Back in Syria we covered a project sponsored by EuropeAid and implemented by Unicef. we visited a school in Damascus, where most of the students were refugees from Iraq. The school was run by the Syrian Government and education was free for all students. It was one of the schools where a special education programme was being pilot tested. Designed in cooperation between the Syrian Ministry, UNICEF and the European Union, the objective of this special programme was to promote a child-centered approach in education. The greatest challenge of this initiative was the active involvement of the whole community. This model of child-centered schools was quite successful and the next phase of the programme was to train other Syrian teachers so that the lessons learned in these experimental schools could have been shared and applied across schools in Syria.

Stefano, Francesco at Franco at the Bagdad Cafe', on the way to Palmira

It was remarkable how the Syrian Government was committed to help the iraqi refugees. Is now Iraq doing anything similar when much of the Syrian Population is reduced to refugee status?

The Italian Embassy in Syria helped us to get in contact with Muhsen Bilal, the then Minister of Information. He had studied in Italy and was an old style elegant gentleman. Of course very different from what I expected should look like a Minister in a non-democratic State.

With his support we could also interview the Local Governments Minister and the Minister of Transportation. Then the political events that took an ugly turn in Syria prompted a Government re-shuffle such that no one of the Ministers we interviewed was still in power 4 months later. So not much use of them. Still if looks at them one can get a memory of what it means to have an international cooperation climate and compare it to the actual international hostility.

I was also very interested to two other projects: the NAM and the Business Environment Simplification Programme. However it seemed that RAI was quite happy with the footage taken and I had to push them through collecting further material.

The main problem was to convince Franco to work. After each hour of work he pretended an hour of rest. He said that the other colleagues of RAI will look at the footage and if it was not “professional” enough they would have taken him responsible. So it was better less but “good”. He made big preaches about the fact that for a TV documentary images are all. If you have good images, he was repeating, than you can add whatever speaker voice you want. But if you do not have good images, then there is no television sense at all that you can make even of best text. Which sounded to me as those who think that the women should be first attractive, and then can be or not intelligent. A real stupidity. Beauty always comes in the synergy of physicality and spirituality, in energy and intelligence, in matter and form. Neither of the two is beautiful by itself.

Francesco was more open. Sometimes he even had quarrels with Franco. But Franco had the childish approach of stopping to work and going to smoke an argyle. And since we needed the camera we had to wait. At least unit Gauri came to help. In fact seeing the attitude of Franco I asked Gauri to buy a camera and come to support us. She did. So we started filming additional footage that Franco was not ready to cover.

Francesco went with Guari to cover another project of AIDOS in the region of Lattakia. A women economic empowerment scheme.

Unfortunately sometimes the technical inexperience of Gauri was fatal to the technical quality of the footage. Like she forgot to keep the camera at the right distance from the wireless mike. So we lost many passage of the backstage conversation between me and Francesco on the island where I was explaining him my methodological approach. And try to do some meta-communication on the communication work we were doing.

We covered many of the Syrian projects and I was quite happy with the result of work done so far. Only two projects were had been left out. One was the project with the young Syrian journalists. Which I planned to do in again later. And the other was a small project that Armadilla was managing in Syria on the behalf of the Foundation Mariani. A project of physiotherapy in association with a Palestinian Welfare Women Association. The project manager, a nice Lebanese lady of Armenian origin was so afraid to have possible problems with possible critics that she would not even let us shoot at the physiotherapy work in progress. So strange. We had filmed inside Ministries, inside public Syrian television, inside refugee camps. But we had not been able to film inside the Armadilla office in Syria. But sometimes the sense of hospitably of the colleagues of your organization is less than the one of your enemies. That is also why I like to travel. And also to take up new difficult adventures. But I feel really bad to work as an employee in organizations.

Next Sierra Leone 1 - preparing the ground

Video clips

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On YouTube ⇒ Improving Schools and Learning Environment - playlist
On YouTube ⇒ At the Syrian television Hopes - playlist
On YouTube ⇒ MAM - playlist
On YouTube ⇒ Youth & Heritage - playlist
On YouTube ⇒ Moving Hopes - playlist


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Improving Schools and Learning Environment - Damascus

Syrian Television
Moving Hopes
Preservation and Development - MAM


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Backstage Balbek - Francesco spiega l'importanza di scegliere le storie insieme