Animated video as a tool to educate Cambodians about malaria and dengue fever

A little boy is sleeping without a hammock. It seems like he is in a good adventurous dream; however, it turns out to be the opposite when he has to fight with a lot of mosquitos. It is his nightmare and, it is a scene from an animated movie called “Mosquito in Dreaming”.

“Mosquito in Dreaming” was screened during UNESCO World day for Audiovisual Heritage under the theme of “Young Filmmakers on Stage” at Bophana Center on 27th October. It is the only animated movie out of the other six that were shown during the event.

Norm Phanith is working on his animated video at Phare Ponleu Selpak, Battambang province. / Photo supplied This Cambodian 5-minute long animation was released in 2009. It tells a story about a little boy fighting with the king of the mosquito and his servants at his castle. Yet, in fact it is the mosquitoes that are biting him because he sleeps without a hammock.

It is the entertainment movie that, at the same time, educates. It ended with friendly educational tips for its viewers, especially children, to avoid from being harmful by malaria and dengue fever.

The man behind the animation is Norm Phanith from a Cambodian animation group based in Battambang province. The 25-year-old man said the animation came to existence because of inner motivation from his personal experiences. It first started when Phanith worked for 1000 hands Animation Studio, an association initiated by animation students at Phare Ponleu Selpak, Battambang province.

 “While I was working, there were a lot of mosquito interrupting and biting me. It made me feel uncomfortable. I also got sick because of them. Thus, I was wondering if I could produce an educative cartoon to inform children and their parents about dengue fever and malaria risk,” he told the CambodiaCircles reporters.

“I witnessed some neighbor kids died of mosquito bite and also malaria. I feel so sorry for that, and this pushes me to move on with my project,” Phanith asserts.

Phanith has screened this video for hundreds of children at his workplace in Battambang province. He hopes to bring it to the rural area for the kids there to watch. He adds, “They [Bophana Centre] will show my computer-animated video to kids at remote area to convey my message in order for them to avoid being sick by mosquito. I hope it might be helpful for the children and their families.”

Phanith said he chose the video to show during the UNESCO World Day because the center wished to show diversity of films. “I also have read films for screening, but the Bophana Audiovisual Resource Center asked me to show the animated one because the other five are real movies,” said Phanith, adding that he was also pleased to present his skill to Cambodians.

The animation maker has been educated about animation film at Phare Ponleu Selpak, an organization that trains disadvantage children and youth aiming at professional performing art such as painting, music, circus show, animation video and other arts skills. He had spent two years there before being able to produce this video.

Coming through all these, Phanith also came across challenges with his animation. He said, “There are several stages to get it done, and I need to pay more attention on brainstorming, time consuming and creativity. Sometimes, I also got stuck because of needing a lot of time painting on paper before doing it on computer.”

To produce a good animation video, Phanith asked the animation lover to be well informed about old stories; story tales (kid interests) and work hard for that. “Not only technical skills---computer and painting skills, but they also need to have a lot of knowledge about story tales as basic ideas to produce an educative video,” added Phanith.

Phanith and his team now are producing other animation videos about Human Rights in Cambodia under support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Article by: Leng Len & Sour Piseth
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Photo by: Leng Len & Sour Piseth
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About Writers:

Len's profile photoLENG LEN, 20, is a junior of Media Management at the Department of Media and Communication (DMC) of Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP). Len has devoted her spare time in volunteering job for various NGOs involving with variety of social issues: Child Rights, Advocate, Domestic Violence, Reproductive health and so on. She even brought them into discussion among authorities and stakeholders when she was in high school. “Being a journalist is what I had dreamt, and I hope I could help people explore new thing around the world. I am not afraid of facing new challenges.  I am born to be friendly, helpful and never demand besides sharing and helping each other,” said Len, adding that smiling is her symbol.