An experimental nature-based storytelling project in Georgia

The Georgian-Russian war in 2008 made sure that a lot of people (128.000!) in Georgia were internally displaced. People who are internally displaced are forced to leave their home, but still remain in their own country.

The majority of those displaced in 2008 have returned to their original places of residence, but still a lot of people are unable to return, and will not be able to in the foreseeable future. Distinctions in benefits and treatment are currently based on the timeline of the original displacement as well as people’s living arrangements, rather than the criteria of their needs, vulnerability and mental state.

We wanted to train and tell stories with these people, and more in particular we wanted to help youngsters. With this idea in mind, we started the experimental pilot project Post-War Econnecting. As often in our projects, with Human Centered Design and Appreciative Inquiry as a theoretical base, we start from the interests, strengths and passions from the participants. This then forms a starting point for improvement, growth and prosperity.

In practice, we created a new storytelling methodology by bringing elements together from participatory moviemaking and wilderness therapy. Participatory moviemaking means we actively involve the youngsters in the process of making the movie, whereas wilderness therapy is a form of therapy based on adventure in nature, which has positive outcomes on improving one’s self-concept and self-esteem, help seeking behavior, pro-social and trust behavior and more. Combining these two methods creates a pure base for storytelling.

Our project coordinator Jens has done a training of wilderness therapy in Valencia himself, so he could get insight in what this therapy form means and does. After this, we constructed project activities based on brainstorming and testing. These project activities have then been tested with Ekaterine in the beautiful mountain landscape of the Kazbegi area - you can see the result in the video below. Ekaterine herself works for ‘For Better Future’; the partner of this project. She is internally displaced herself and works in internally displaced settlements with youngsters, which made sure that our testing was as qualitative as possible.

After some adjustments based on the experience with Ekaterine, we did a final testing with the six youngsters in the Lagodekhi area. As a result, we had a lot of video material and more important – the project helped youngsters explore themselves and grow in the process. This material has been edited to the final video, in which the youngsters tell their story.

All our project activities have been positively evaluated by our partners as well by the youngsters participating, which made us feel like we are on the right track with this project.

At this moment, we are trying to preserve and improve Post-War Econnecting, so we can be of the biggest value for internally displaced youngsters. We plan on going further with this storytelling methodology by doing summer camps in Georgia with the IDP youth.

Post-War Econnecting is a partnership between iDROPS and For Better Future, supported by Tandem Europe.

Need more information? Send an e-mail to Jens and he’ll answer your questions with enthusiasm!

0498 10 11 66