Gwendolyn Smith

Gwendolyn Smith

Attune Development
Paramaribo, Suriname

What is Ownership?

How the Trio community of Kwamalasamutu has come to take 'ownership' of the tools that COBRA has given them.

March 11, 2014

Gwendolyn Smith, our colleague from the NGO Attune Development shares her experience of how the Trio community of Kwamalasamutu engaged with film-making and photographic techniques in order to tell their story.

In 10 years of working with the Trio community, I have seen many different kinds of ownership. Trio communities sometimes take ownership of a project by drawing on the buildings or other physical structures built by the project, or by weaving the project in to their storytelling.  And if a project is very successful, the community may even throw a party to celebrate. Working with COBRA, I have begun to see a new form of ownership taking hold in the community. Following their training in September and October last year, the team of young Trio men and women started using their new-found photography and film-making skills to document local challenges. Yet, the films and photostories that they produced did not seem to me like typical Trio stories.

Storyboard developed by the team in Kwamalasamutu

Then something happened in our visit to Kwamalasamutu in February 2014. The team arranged themselves into two groups: male and female. The boys were tasked with filming, and the girls with taking pictures. Following customary rules, this move created an atmosphere for taking full control allowed the team to make full use of their skills. By re-drawing their storyboard, the team created a beautiful story about the two farms system, which not only says a great deal about risk management strategies, but also shows how overcoming risk is celebrated in the community.

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