Civil war has forced hundreds of thousands of Colombian children to leave their homes and move to the shantytowns that surround Bogotá, Medellín, and other large cities, but only 23% of these children are able to attend school. For this reason, the Colombian Education Ministry asked the refugee-rights organization Taller de Vida to propose ways to reform schools so that these children could receive a decent education.
Over three months in 2004, Shine a Light worked with a team of refugee advocates, educators, and teenage artists. The result is a documentary film detailing the lives of three children who fled violence in the countryside in order to seek refuge in Bogotá, their experience in school, and the way that theater, art, and music helped them to overcome the traumas of war. This documentary forms the center of a series of digital workshops designed to teach teachers and students about ways that they can help children forced into exile.
After Shine a Light completed the production of the documentary and the accompanying workshops, the Colombian Education Ministry distributed it to school districts around the country. We also provided the DVD to organizations working on school reform in other countries, because preliminary conversations with education experts in Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina have shown that changes designed to help refugee children should also make a difference in the lives of poor and marginalized children and teenagers in other countries.
This DVD is also available in English, translated at the request of NGOs serving displaced students in Uganda.