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Voss Foundation | Thandekile's Story | Nonprofit Video Production | Virtual Reality Video

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Published on Oct 28, 2019

A 17-hour flight to Swaziland with the VOSS team, and 12-hour days shooting schedule. The result? a non-profit Virtual Reality video production showing the struggle for what most of us take for granted - water.

OBJECTIVE
Inspire donors to support the Voss Foundation’s installation of water pumps in communities of rural Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) without clean water.

Walking on the tarmac in Eswatini, we knew no one. Not yet. To connect with the mission of our client, we needed to humanize what Voss is doing, but that required connecting with individuals and learning their stories. We had a week to wing it.

Bellyfire Productions (a dynamic husband/wife production team) are brilliant documentary filmmakers passionate about social justice, but they had no experience shooting 360 Video. After providing technical tips informally for months, Bellyfire brought me on as their VR Cinematographer. We wore many hats, each dividing and conquering several production responsibilities. Together we identified the individuals who would serve as the protagonists in our stories.

PUTTING THE PUZZLE TOGETHER
Phetsile, age 26, spent the afternoon lending a pair of hands, digging up dirt alongside workers constructing a new borehole and water pump.

We hiked with Phetsile, her children and livestock to the pond she visits daily. She collected water in a bucket to share with her mother and a younger sister who suffers from disease and is unable to move. At the pond, sourcing water to drink, clean and bathe we reflected on this reluctant ritual spanning generations. It would be the last time.

Now, Phetsile devotes more time to weaving, a craft that enables her to earn money for her family. Later in the week, we met Phetsile again at a community meeting. She performed a traditional dance, accompanied by drums. Phetsile was beaming – as she walks a few meters down the hill to pump fresh, clean water from the borehole.

Thandekile had a dream for her community. She petitioned to get a borehole and water pump installed and offered services to maintain its operation.

With the borehole, Thandekile’s neighbors are healthier, happier and she has more time to homeschool her grandson.

Animals shit in the creek, polluting the water and killing the people. Thandekile explained the deplorable cycle that plagued her community for as long as memories can tell. She walked us down with her grandson, stumbling over the stones she used to traverse every day, just to get a sip.

FINISHED PRODUCT
To promote the VR videos, Voss Foundation sent custom-branded easily foldable cardboard VR headsets to influencers within their philanthropic network.

The influencers filmed themselves putting together the cardboard headsets, slipping in their phone and experiencing the VR piece. These videos were shared on Instagram.

At conferences, Voss setup a booth where attendees could experience the VR video and take a free Voss-branded headset home with them. Our 360/VR experience promoted Voss’ corporate social responsibility initiative and secured more funding so that more people can access clean water, sanitation and hygiene as a means to enable community-driven development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We (VOSS) thought this is an amazing program, but how do we share it with more consumers, buyers, and accounts?” said Justin Burnett, Director of National Accounts Retail for VOSS Water. “Now I can actually take my buyer to Sub-Saharan Africa and say ‘here’s what we are doing.’ All you have to do is insert your phone into the cardboard viewer and you can have this whole experience. Our goal is to move our relationship with Voss Foundation from paper to a fully immersive experience for our consumers and our buying teams to see. It’s almost like you are in Africa without having to actually travel to Swaziland.”

- - -

Voss is a Norwegian-based brand of bottled water from the village of Vatnestrøm in Iveland municipality, Aust-Agder county. Contrary to popular belief, the water is not bottled in the municipality of Voss, which is more than 400 kilometres (250 mi) away from the actual bottling site. It is available in both still and sparkling forms.

Voss Foundation has been active since 2008. Norwegian NGO working in sub-Saharan Africa to help communities fulfill water requirements with a particular interest in assisting women and girls. Projects primarily involve a combination to well-digging/creation/rehabilitation, pumping, and piping. SOURCE: Wikipedia

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