To publicize the scope of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Thailand, EDC staff turned to local film students. In partnership with Chulalongkorn University (also known as “Chula”), students and EDC staffers researched, wrote, and produced three short documentary films. This is just one activity in the Thailand HIV/AIDS Orphans project, run by EDC’s Health and Human Development Programs (HHD), which provides educational opportunities and support for local children orphaned by AIDS. The initiative is funded by Deutsche Bank.
The films examine the HIV epidemic, the plight of orphaned children, and promising new community-based responses. To do their research, Chula students conducted interviews, filmed local activities, and met with residents—and some even spent the night in villagers’ homes.
“Mae Suai [a Thai village] is so far removed physi-cally from Bangkok, and yet with the problem of HIV and AIDS, now I can see how connected we all are,” says Chula student Naiyaporn Jantaranives.
The students formed three teams. The first studied the reasons behind the proliferation of HIV and AIDS in Thailand. The second used HHD’s peer education program, in which local youth inform their peers about prevention. The third team sought to understand the lives of children whose parents have died of AIDS, studying the hardships of eking out a living without a primary breadwinner.
“The project is a great opportunity for students,” says Chula film teacher Sopawan Boonnimitra. “They have gained social consciousness and were challenged on how they can make a difference through their careers as filmmakers and media professionals.”
The films have been screened at Thai film festivals, and EDC and Chula plan to distribute the films through the university’s film festival and others in Bangkok and beyond. Project staff hope that the films will be picked up by Thailand’s national educational television so they can reach local communities.
Originally published on April 30, 2007