International Aid has always been a complicated issue, and as media coverage of disaster zones and conflict increases, organisations and potential Aid Agency donors are faced with a barrage of often contradictory and confusing information. PLAN Australia along with Reality Learning have been putting together an online interactive training program to help staff and public alike understand and develop a broader understanding of the complexities and issues involved in aid and development.

I’ve spent a week in Melbourne filming and a few weeks editing together video and still images that make up a travelogue for a fictional donor visiting a sponsor child and her family in an East African region. The story follows the sponsor initially being challenged by conditions and her own pre-conceptions of how things ‘should’ be but then becomes at risk herself as she is caught in the middle of a natural disaster event and falls ill. The program also questions the difference in priorities between local need and international funding politics.

Through ‘Vidmail’ messages (an invented online video message service) and online conversations, participants in the program learn of the attitudes and difficulties for each of the characters involved in the story. The video and email content will be supported in the program by text and resources from PLAN and other material.

Here’s a few stills that introduce some of the primary characters in the program.

David Ochero the local MPANGO worker

David Ochero the local MPANGO worker

Albert Mamber playing the Senior administrator Minister for the Dept of Education

Albert Mamber playing the Senior Administrator for the Dept of Education

Kate Fergerson as Margaret the original Sponsor and mother to Tanya's charecter

Kate Fergerson as Margaret the original sponsor and mother to Tanya’s character

Moses Mawira and Zawadi Nguma as Johnston and Agnes the sponsored family parents.

Zawadi Nguma and Moses Mawira as Agnes and Johnston the sponsored family parents.

Grace (the sponsor child) and her brother Isaac

Grace (the sponsor child) and her brother Isaac

Sinead Blessing as Tanya the visiting sponsor, caught out by flooding in the Embe area

A BBC World News Report from the Embe Region

A BBC World News Report from the Embe Region

It’s been a really interesting project to work on. Many thanks to Judith Hewitson at Reality Learning and the staff of PLAN Australia for the relaxed and welcoming manner that everyone involved in the project has maintained to get it over the finish line.

Here’s a short example of one of Tanya’s Vidmail messages, that form an early part of the story;