How would you respectfully ask/share sensitive story content?

Nicholas J. asked: I have a question regarding an interview with a potential heart. I am working on a fundraising project revolving around a non-profit organization, which provides training services for refugees. We have a particular refugee who has successfully completed the training, and we' d like to feature her story for the video. The issue however, lies around what she is comfortable discussing. She's open to talking about the non-profit, its training, and her time spent in Algeria, to where she first fled from the D.R.C. But she has made it clear that she is not comfortable discussing her experience in the D.R.C. itself (understandable). So my question is, what approach would you take to respectfully show the impact and conditions of what is happening in that part of the world, without offending or upsetting the heart of the story?

Keep in mind that each of us will have different sensitivities when it comes to things like this. I personally believe that my responsibility lies with the story, and while it may be hard for some people to share details of their reality, if it is for the greater good of many others, then I'll certainly make sure they understand the 'why', and ask the to consider sharing it regardless. After all, if nobody ever talks about them, those bad things can continue to thrive. It's when issues become part of our daily discourse that we as a community can create massive change.

So aside from that, let's just assume here that she won't talk about it and you're going to leave it at that. Now what to do?

Well my first thing would be to use the 4 Layers of Place and think about where else you could find everything that she won't be able to tell you. Are there photos of it? Can you get archival footage? News footage from YouTube or elsewhere? What about radio broadcasts or other audio streams that discuss the reality? Consider asking her what some of her worst moments sounded like, and build a sound bed to recreate that experience, and then simply use titles on screen to set up where she came from.

It's still entirely possible, but now you truly need to show and not tell; you have to use the power of place to bring us there.