Dennis and Dionne Newton

Dennis and Dionne Newton
Dennis & Dionne Newton

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Behind the Scenes

As our family back home was celebrating the premiere of their movie "Ninja Cowboy Viking" for a Make-a-Wish fundraising event, we were busy in Bosnia making movies of our own! LDS Charities produces a number of short videos each year to help people have a better understanding of how they partner with other organizations around the world to help others in need. (If you'd like to see some of the videos you can check them out at LDS Charities Videos.) Denny gave an overview of LDS Charities on the blog last week so if you missed it you can go back and read more. As Denny perused the LDS Charities video library earlier this year he noticed that there weren't any videos from our mission area. He reached out to the Europe area media relations department and long story July we will be spending a week with the video production team filming five of our projects, one in Croatia and four in Bosnia. We are very excited about this opportunity to highlight a few of our amazing partners here!

We have had an eventful June as we are preparing for the video team. We have met with our partners who will be featured, written outlines of the projects and suggested story lines for each one for the team to review, made travel arrangements for the week long trip and put on our best smiles during some pre-production filming. Because the video production team is coming in July when the schools are closed, we used a local videographer this month to do some filming of the children and school based scenes. Ilia, who we met through Riders of Hope, has been a valuable asset to the video project, without his assistance it would be very difficult to present the whole story properly. What is a story line without the main characters? Here's a behind the scenes look at our upcoming videos...

Ilia in action in the sensory integration room at Los Rosales

Our first stop will be in Zagreb, Croatia where they will film at two refugee centers. We have partnered with Croatia Red Cross on several projects including providing medicine and medical supplies, school supplies and facility repairs. We hope to highlight one particular man who has turned his unfortunate circumstances into an opportunity to serve others. Putting his personal skills to use he has done a variety of projects around the center to improve the quality of life for those living there. He has also created an atmosphere of cooperation and respect as he has taught skills to others and encouraged them to give back as well.

Following Croatia, we will head to Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to do additional filming of a Vision project. Ilia filmed children in the classroom as well as children receiving screening earlier this month. The production team will film the ophthalmologist and others from the Ministry of Health We will also do an interview with a child and parent who had a significant vision issue that was identified through the screenings and was able to be treated successfully, preventing long term negative effects.

Part of the Vision Project team from Zenica. They are the
reason this project has been so successful in Bosnia!

One of the beneficiaries of the vision screening. Now she can
see the board and is better able to learn in the classroom!

We had quite the crowd for the filming. The kids were a little,
okay a lot, distracted so everyone but Ilia had to leave the room!
Mala Sirena in Zavidovici will be our next stop. Again, Ilia shot footage of the children at the center before the summer holiday begins. For this video we will follow the story of Tarik, a young boy with disabilities who has found great success using the tablets we provided for the center. Tarik was filmed interacting with his classmates in the inclusive kindergarten and working with a tablet. We were also able to do an interview with Tarik's mom. Adisa, Mala Sirena's founder and director, and Edita, one of their primary therapists will be filmed in July. This will be a great video story!

Denny never misses and opportunity to play! I'm sure Ilia's knees
were tired by the time this filming session was over...

Ilia enjoyed filming Tarik and the other children in the classroom!

Shooting all the angles... you can't see him, but Tarik
is working on the tablet in front of Edita, the therapist. 

This is what happens when you play too hard! 

Helping him understand how the tablet program worked. I'm
still working on my bribe to have this footage excluded
from the final product! Being in a video is not on my bucket list!

Then on to Sarajevo! Maternal Newborn Care will be the subject of the video here. Last week we met with Dr. Suada Heljic, lead physician for the Maternal Newborn Care project and head of the NICU at the Clinical Center of University of Sarajevo. She gave us a tour of the NICU that touched my heart. All newborns with any type of medical challenge are sent to her hospital from all around Bosnia. She explained that because of the newborn resuscitation techniques taught to them through LDS Charities Maternal Newborn Care projects they have been able to save hundreds of babies that would have previously died at birth. In July, we will be filming in the NICU and interviewing Dr. Suada and a parent whose child was saved as a newborn through resuscitation. I'm pretty sure you'll want a tissue handy for this one.

Our final stop will be at Los Rosales in Mostar. This is the school for children and adults with disabilities where we helped build a commercial kitchen for their vocational training program. We had the pleasure of eating the first meal served in the new "cantina" on our recent visit to do filming with Ilia while school was still in session. The kids were wide eyed as they sat waiting for their lunch. It was so fun to watch them, but even more fun to watch the adults who were actually preparing the food and serving it. This is a project that will have a long term impact on all involved! It was a full day of filming in hot Mostar weather for Ilia. Classrooms, playgrounds, sensory rooms, art classes and interviews filled enough video that it took Ilia almost two days to upload it all to his storage site! When the production team comes school will be closed but they will film the store in Old Town where crafts made by students from Los Rosales are sold as well as some of the iconic sites in the area.
Getting the good angles again as they prepare food in the new kitchen!

They look like movie stars, don't you think? They did a
wonderful job preparing and serving the meal for the video
and look how clean they stayed!

I'm glad Ilia has good knees... filming the harvest!

The children weren't quite sure what to think of their first
meal in the new "cantina". No one left hungry and they
were served with a smile!
As you might guess, July will be a very busy month for us between the video project and our recently approved EDUS training project I mentioned a few weeks ago. We have been meeting with centers throughout Bosnia to invite them to participate in the workshops, complete surveys to help us better meet their needs during the training workshops and we are also seeking additional potential project opportunities. Follow up on four water projects that are nearing completion now that the students are out for the summer is also on the agenda for July. We will be putting a lot of miles on our little Hyundai! It's a good thing Denny and I still love each other after 35 years! "Better busy than bored" I always say!

This week also marks great change in the mission. This week President and Sister Grant will be released and returning to Cedar City, Utah to resume life as it was before the mission. We have grown to love them both very much and are sad to see them go. They will be missed! But the great news is that President and Sister Melonakos will be arriving to take the helm. We look forward to getting to know them and spending the last half of our mission under their guidance. In addition to President Grant leaving, the Pruess family has also finished their assignment with the US embassy here. They will be headed to Greece after spending some time with family in the states. John Pruess had served as the Sarajevo Branch President while he was here. Guess who just got called to replace him??? Yep, Denny! So now in addition to our humanitarian work, he is also in charge of all the ecclesiastic needs in our Sarajevo congregation.

John Pruess and President Grant, we will miss them both.
We will miss the whole family!
(Including Sister Rougeau who went home in April)

The days are flying by and before we know it 2018 will be here and we'll be packing to go home, in the meantime we will make the most of our time here, help as many people as we can and appreciate the personal growth that we are experiencing by serving God.

1 comment:

  1. I am so in awe of the two of you. Congratulations on the success of your inspiring projects. So fun to read about your journey
    Sending love and blessings.