JustWorld International is so proud to share “Books in the Midst of Violence: The Mobile Library,” an amazing documentary created by film student Aeden O’Connor. This powerful documentary follows the JustWorld Mobile Library project in the three most dangerous neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The documentary was featured on BBC in Russel Howard’s “Good News” program back in December and was recently accepted as part of the official selection at the Life Fest Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. Aeden beautifully captured the Mobile Library project and opened up about his experience filming the documentary.
How did you get involved with JustWorld?
I was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and have lived there all my life except for a brief period while I lived in Miami. I was looking for a project to do in Honduras in the summer before I went off to school in Boston. My dad, Daniel O’Connor, who is on the Board of Directors at JustWorld International, told me about the Mobile Library project. He and I immediately set out to investigate further and figure out what kind of video I could make. I was reeled in as soon as we learned exactly what the Mobile Library was and knew it would make a great documentary.
What inspires you about the project?
What inspired me most about the mobile library was how fast the children were immersed in the stories within these books. From one moment to the next they were present in these magical journeys that most of us have grown up with for our whole lives. Through this project, I learned how something so small and meaningless to so many like a simple story can have such an enormous impact on the children’s lives. For the brief moment the library is there, they can finally escape the harsh world that surrounds them and live in these wonderful universes.
But in the end, the most inspiring part of the project were the JustWorld workers, from the brave work being done by Jessica and all the ambassadors to Nelson, the Program Coordinator, and Associación Compartir to bring these books to the children and allow them to have the same privileges we did when we were young. Truly awe inspiring.
Why did you decide to make a documentary?
Realizing that there are children in this world who have grown up without a single bed time story, a single fable, a single Disney fairy tale, or a single short story from a book that would set their minds at ease and drift seemingly into another world was shocking to me. As a kid, the coolest adventures I went on were all in books, from reading the Harry Potter books and dreaming of one day going to Hogwarts to sorting out every single species of dinosaurs from the Big Book of Dinosaurs, these memories will carry on with me for my entire life. Film is the most powerful medium there is on the planet so I hoped I could make something that would inspire people and raise interest in the project and hopefully it did.
What were some challenges?
There were many challenges in the making of the documentary but the principal one was safety. These are very dangerous neighborhoods where the Mobile Library goes. I had two camera’s on me, one Canon 60D and one smaller Go Pro. There were parts where I was told not to bring out my camera and most of the coverage in the notorious slum of Nueva Suyapa is on the Go Pro since it is smaller and raises less attention than the bigger Canon. Other than that, it was a great experience and it went very smoothly.
What do you want to see happen with the Mobile Library project?
The Mobile Library has reached 2,755 children in the past year and 200 of these children touched a book for the first time. I want every single child in Honduras to grow up with as many short stories and fairy tales as I had the privilege to when I was a kid. I want to see the mobile library become the mobile libraries. I want to drive around Tegucigalpa and spot one every single day and know that the little 4 x 4 pick up truck with a tent and boxes of books in the back is carrying around a truck of pure, 100% happiness.
What is the overall message you want to spread?
I want people to understand the enormous power that something so simple as a book has. A simple short story can completely change someone’s life. I want people to realize that there are children in this world who long to escape through these magical journeys, who long to be encouraged and inspired, who long to feel comfort and escape the brutal world that surrounds them. I want people to learn the value of print and how short stories can completely change the lives of so many children who desperately need it and if anything, for people to appreciate the power of print.
What have you learned from this experience?
I just want to praise and thank Jessica and every single hard worker at JustWorld International for their extremely brave and inspiring actions. I don’t know where the world would be without people like them, dedicating their lives to helping the people who desperately need it. Just being a part of the program for a week was priceless and has given me knowledge and experience I will carry with me to the grave. I have never enjoyed a book more than the first one I read after making this documentary and I have never appreciated the power of print and every single thing I have more in my entire life.
You can watch “Books in the Midst of Violence: The Mobile Library,” at:
Please pass on this link and share the moving message with others! Keep the Mobile Library moving and donate to JustWorld today! You can find the link at: https://www.justworldinternational.org/en/give-to-justworld/