Last week I went to an orphanage with a colleague to help her produce her final story for Metro TV. I had no idea what it would be like going to an orphanage in Ghana, I guess I imagined it to be sad, dirty, and a little overcrowded considering the information I was given about how the government provides little to no funding for this particular orphanage. My colleague, Altea, who is a 17 year-old intern from Italy, started her journey in Ghana volunteering at this orphanage for two weeks. The way she explains it though makes it sound like she was learning just as much from the children as they were from her. So in order to create some publicity and hopefully increase donations for the children, we decided to create a three minute long feature story to be aired on nightly news everyday for a weekend.
The first visit was to get acquainted with the children, choose an angle for the story, and take some B-roll for the video.
I was absolutely shocked. I walked into the compound, and within 5 seconds had 20 or 30 kids, with the biggest smiles on their faces, running straight for me and my friend. The buildings were in good form and painted bright blue to add to the overall warm aesthetic of the home. The children treat each other like siblings and the workers treat every child like their own. Not once did the children look sad or like they wanted us to feel sorry for them, which gave us the idea to make a video that highlights the positive aspects of the orphanage. So often we see videos of orphanages that make children look helpless and sad, which sheds negative light on them and probably makes the children feel as though they are different.
So we decided to do the exact opposite. We interviewed the founder of the orphanage and listened to him speak about how smart and motivated his children are and how they are treated like every other child and not like orphans. He told us that one of his daughters is going to be the first female president of Ghana. His hard work and dedication is the reason why the orphanage is as happy and successful as it is today. At the end of the video, he tells, instead of asks, viewers how they can help if they wish.
This was not only an interesting story to work on, but also an important learning experience.