Fifteen-year-old Pendo watches herself in the short film Tabu

Watch the VSO film receiving international acclaim

Tabu, a film created by a community in Tanzania with the support of a VSO volunteer, has been screened at seven film festivals around the world. Now we want to share it with you.

One community in Lindi, southern Tanzania, has come together to create a short fiction film, Tabu. It follows the heartrending story of a girl desperate to go to school, and the challenges that confront her along the way.

The story was adapted from the testimony of young women gathered by VSO and filmed in streets, homes and schools by a cast and crew of volunteers including teachers, students, bus drivers – the entire village got involved! Only the director, a VSO volunteer, had any professional experience in filmmaking.

This film is an extension of VSO’s work in interactive theatre, where volunteers work with communities to create and perform plays, and then discuss the issues raised in those plays.

Watch the film now to see how VSO is flipping the script for young girls like Tabu.


Fifteen-year-old Pendo was cast as the lead actress, and had never seen a film before. She described the experience of seeing herself on the big screen.

“I feel like I have accomplished all my dreams. I never expected to see myself in a film. The community have been very positive and supportive.”

Pendo and Justin shooting a scene in Tabu
Justin Spray
Pendo and Justin shooting a scene in Tabu

Justin Spray, the volunteer filmmaker on the project, said, “The commitment of the community and the speed with which the team learnt was incredible. I had a feeling from the start that we were making something very special.”

“On the first day of shooting, one of our young cast arrived to tell us that her husband had forbidden her from taking part so that she could spend her days waiting at home for him.

“That moment reinforced just how important it is that these stories are made and shared.”

We are running interactive theatre workshops across Tanzania, Bangladesh, Nepal and Rwanda, breaking the taboo around difficult issues like child marriage and teenage pregnancy and hearing the untold stories of girls like Tabu.

If you’ve been inspired and would like to arrange a screening of this film yourself, please get in touch with for more information.

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