Stories From My Town was the second workshop of the “If My Town Could Talk…” workshop series with the year six children from Rhyd y Grug Primary School. The aim of this activity was to see Aberfan through the eyes of the children, to understand how they relate to the places in Aberfan and to hear the stories that they have created in the streets, in playgrounds, in landscapes and at local heritage landmarks.
Guiding us around their town, the pupils captured the essence of Aberfan by taking photographs and videos of the places they encountered. Using the school iPads, they captured the sound of the river, the dry leaves, the rain and rainbows that accompanied our steps. This hands-on experience allowed the children to connect with their community on a deeper level and to express their unique perspectives.
On our walk to the Pantglas memorial site, which commemorates the lives lost in the 1966 Aberfan tragey, we met Jeff Edwards, a survivor of the disaster. Listening to his stories of survival and recovery, Jeff added new layers to the project and the children’s experience, teaching us about the town as a place of resilience and solidarity, a place where history can also appear as a place of hope and redemption.
For Stories From My Town, we were also joined by activists from the Movement of People Affected by Dams and the London Mining Network, who represented the victims of the Samarco tailings dam disaster near Mariana, Brazil. On November 5, 2015, the dam collapsed, releasing a wave of toxic mud that destroyed the village of Bento Rodrigues and killed nineteen people. To mark the eighth anniversary of the disaster, four South American activists travelled to Aberfan, to meet with members of the community and compare strategies in seeking justice. This special experience was covered by reporters from Welsh television channel S4C.
We ended the day in deep gratitude, sharing moving stories that we hope will move hearts.