Behind the scenes of One Girl’s Journey | ActionAid UK

Deborah "Smallie" Lomotey

Communications Officer, ActionAid Ghana

We go behind the scenes with Deborah “Smallie” Lomotey, to discuss the making of One Girl’s Journey and what our short film means to her and the community that got involved.

Deborah “Smallie” Lomotey, ActionAid Ghana’s Communications Officer, during the filming of One Girl's Journey.
Deborah “Smallie” Lomotey, ActionAid Ghana’s Communications Officer, during the filming of One Girl's Journey.

How many people from the community took part in the film and what did they do?

Overall, about 30 people from the community, including ‘stage hands’, took part in the making of One Girl’s Journey. All the main characters were community members and were crucial in the entire process.

For example, Naomi, who plays the oldest version of Grace, the film’s main character, was exceptional in ensuring the community understood what the team wanted from them during the shoot.

The children who play the schoolchildren in the classroom scene were also brilliant! We had to do several takes and they kept their cool and remained calm like professionals.

Overall, the wonderful community members, who had no acting experience, made themselves fully available to us during the filming of One Girl’s Journey, and I am so proud that they did.

Why was it important that the community was involved?

We join hands with people living in poverty, especially in rural communities, and empower them with the skills and opportunities to make impactful changes for themselves and their families.

Therefore, it was absolutely crucial to involve members of the community during the filming process since they are affected by the various issues highlighted in One Girl’s Journey.

What were your favourite parts of the filming?

There are far too many to choose from but I’ll definitely go with the final mirror scene, where Grace has come full circle and has settled into her life of empowerment as an advocate of ActionAid’s work.

I love this scene because I can relate to it. I know how it feels to be helpless, and to have someone invest their time, resources and energy into helping you change your life and making it better than their own.

It also portrays what happens when you take full advantage of the opportunities presented to you and is an important message to send to the millions of girls all over the world.

    I know how it feels to be helpless, and to have someone invest their time, resources and energy into helping you change your life

I also particularly like the child sponsorship scene because it is so natural. As soon as the team brought out the papers and crayons, the children were captivated and began drawing without any prompting.

Why is it important to spread the message of girl empowerment?

Research has shown that although many girls are enrolled in primary schools, their numbers dwindle as they further their education due to many factors including teenage pregnancy, the burden of unpaid care work, child marriage, violence against women and girls, and economic constraints.

When we empower girls, we give them the power to be agents of change from a very young age, with the ultimate result of ensuring gender equality.

By spreading the message of girl empowerment, we tell girls that they can make it.

We also tell boys that girls are strong, resilient and authoritative, and have the same right to thrive in the world, bring about change and guarantee sustainable development and social justice.

Are you proud of the finished film? What do you hope it will achieve?

Proud would be an understatement; I am ecstatic about the finished film! The long gruelling hours and unpredictable weather and heavy rains during the filming process are completely worth it.

I hope the film can effectively communicate what supporting ActionAid’s work results in, because it is a true depiction of how resources and funds for ActionAid’s work are used.

Most importantly, I want the film to show how girls like Grace are empowered through the work ActionAid does as a result of our wonderful sponsors and funders!

What is ActionAid Ghana doing to help girls stand up for their rights?

ActionAid Ghana has been working with girls since 1990. One of the missions of our current strategy is aimed at addressing the root causes of violence against women and girls.

We have dedicated ourselves to this for close to three decades by empowering girls through awareness and training workshops, as well as our Girls’ Club forum, to teach girls to be assertive and know their rights.

We work closely with the Young Urban Women’s Movement (YUWM) to educate girls about fighting child marriage and violence, as well as provide career guidance. We also support the Young Female Parliament (YFP) project, aimed at increasing the low turnout of women in decision-making.

When you were a girl, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I love animals and wanted to be a veterinarian when I was a girl because I thought it would mean spending my entire time just simply playing with them.

I found out later that it would also involve a lot of surgery and blood. I suffer from haemophobia (a fear of blood) so that didn’t work out too well for me!

Ahmet Husseyin/ActionAid