While stereotyped representations of masculinity and sensationalized portrayals of gender-based violence can readily be found in global popular media, the Sonke digital stories present an alternative vision—one that emphasizes the importance of reflection, hope, and a vision of change.
Silence Speaks has worked with Sonke to coordinate nine workshops, including two pilot sessions, an assistant facilitator training workshop with Sonke staff, three rural workshops with men and women affected by HIV and AIDS, two rural workshops with young people affected by HIV and AIDS, and one workshop with traditional leaders. In each of these sessions, participants explored how their past life experiences have led to their personal commitments to challenge violence and expose its connection to HIV and AIDS.
The workshop series has served numerous purposes, including familiarizing Sonke staff with the techniques of digital storytelling; supporting the healing of survivors of violence; building local leadership among rural residents impacted by HIV and AIDS; providing youth with skills for avoiding abuse and protecting themselves from HIV and other STIs; and elevating the voices of trusted community leaders who are speaking and acting with courage in support of gender equality. Together, the collection of Sonke stories recounts hardships and celebrates achievements related to everyday struggles with memory and identity along with the search for safety, acceptance, and dignity.