Kyrgyzstan is a small Central Asian republic with a population of around 5 million people. Sharing borders with Kazakhstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, within reach of Afghanistan and the Middle East Kyrgyzstan is situated at the heart of Islamic Central Asia.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 had a devastating impact on the Kyrgyz economy and severely weakened its already poor transport and communications networks. Landlocked and largely dependent on expensive air freight for external trade, poor economic and transport conditions have left the country heavily dependent on international aid.
Visible Voice 2006
I have been working with Dr Kenesh Dzhusupov, and other researchers from the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy since 2002 and when I began the Visible Voice project I wanted to find a way to develop our work using video and photography for teaching and learning with public health students at the medical Academy.
I had met Nazgul Esengulova, Director of the Ak Terek Foundation, at Bishkek airport on my way home from a visit to Kyrgyzstan. I was editing video on my powerbook and we got talking about our respective work interests and aspirations. Nazgul told me about Ak Terek’s work in remote rural villages and invited me to get ion contact the next time I was back in Bishkek.
So in April 2006 using some of my own money and a small research grant from the University of Cumbria, I went back to Kyrgyzstan to work with Kenesh on an exploratory participatory video project in the Villages of Kokjar and Tolok. We set out to explore the potential of using participatory video and photography to research local health and community development issues. Over a two week period we worked with the villagers helping them to make videos about their lives and the health related issues in the villages. The workshops were part of an ongoing series of workshops on different topics related to land use, cultural and community development programme organised by Ak Terek.
During the Visible Voice workshops the villagers made four short films illustrating their everyday life and health concerns. A fifth film captures some musical performances from Kokjar Village. Click on the links on the right to view the films from the 2006 project.
Visible Voice 2008
In May 2008 I went back to the villages, at the invitation of Ak Terek, to work with villagers on five films about adapting to cultural and environmental change. The workshops were also used to train Ak Terek staff in the basics of Participatory video and Photography.
This time the villagers made five films focusing on village developments and issues around land use, economic and cultural development. At the moment I am still working on the English subtitles for the films But three films are available now and you can see all of the films in their original Kyrgyz on my Threevoices You Tube site.
Visible Voice 2009
This year we visited the villages of Eki Naryn and Karakolka. Both villages are in remote mountain locations but they do not have the same kinds of land management issues that we found in our work with the villagers in Kokjar and Karakolka. In these villages the principal problems seem to be remoteness, lack of employment opportunities other than herding, nutrition and access to basic resources such as school equipment (Eki Naryn) and water, sanitation and electricity (Karakolka). During the filed trip the villagers completed five films about everyday life in their communities. I have started to add English subtitles and the films will become available as I get them completed. Click on the links (above right) to view the films.
Visible Voice 2011
2006 Project Films
1.Health in a Mountain Village
3.Everyday Life in Our Kyrgyz Village
5.Traditional Kyrgyz Music from Kokjar
The time in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan is:
2008 Project Films
1. Desolation Road
3.Livestock and Pastures
5.Kokjar Village Projects
2009 Project Films
1.Women of Tarargay (Karakolka)
2.Social Problems (Eki Naryn)
3.Our Village (Eki Naryn)
4.Our School (Eki Naryn)