Today we actually made it out to the community. Yay! The kids went around and did several interviews and filmed background shots. They covered the topics of disabilities and traditional beliefs linked to them, dance traditions and their links to marriage and development issues, and started stories on the town cleaners (the group that helps keep the town clean), and economic activities in the community.
Archive for April, 2009
Mimi, the project liaison, came from Plan Finland yesterday afternoon, and we ventured out for a beer last night. It was really warm, so not quite the beer I was imagining…. I’m giving up!
We tried to go to the community this morning but the bus broke down and we never made it! We spent most of the morning getting half way there and back…. After lunch we started doing some technical and practical training with the cameras. The youth always love getting their hands on the cameras. And they did a really good job for not having held cameras before! We’ll try to go back to the community again tomorrow….
Had some great tips and conversation with Mimi that will help improve the project. She is also going to film some testimonials and take some photos of the kids, which should be really helpful for the reporting.
The Adobe-Flip solution doesn’t work, so looks like we will have to open all the files with movie maker, put them on the editing timeline, and then export them, then re-import from moviemaker to adobe for editing. What a pain!
We went this morning around 9 on a rickety microbus, like the ones you see pretty much everywhere in the world, to Kwale Town to the Kaya Ceremony. There were 9 tents set up around a center stage, one for the elders and clan from each of the 9 ethnic groups making up the coastal area. The place was a big tree covered park with a central clearing. It was pretty empty but filled up as the morning went on. The team went around in pairs to do the interviews that they’d planned out yesterday. I just roamed around filming what seemed like good background shots with the Nokia N-82, and the others used the Flip cameras supported by small Sony recorders since sound can be a bit iffy with the Flip cams.
The coolest thing was each different ethnic group had a dance group. We filmed a few of them and Anthony did some interviews. Around 1.30 or so the new Kaya came in surrounded by the other elders, chanting “kaya! kaya! “ He had been in another ceremony last night that was private and today was the public one.
The dances started and soon after speeches – and I rather lost interest as did most of our team, saying that the whole tradition had become political and it was not much about culture anymore, but politics. The main story that the team is agreed to focus on yesterday is that most youth don’t really know what the kaya is all about, yet the kaya holds lots of power, and the youth hope to access that power someday, yet how will the access it if they don’t know anything about it. Another story that they want to do is related to women and power. The whole group is really gender sensitive which I’m finding really interesting because lots of gender issues are coming up and their insights are really profound as related to culture, tradition, and today’s world.
Ali K was talking at dinner about inheritance, and that in his community/culture, women cannot inherit. If their husband passes away, they must return to their parents’ home and be cared for by a father or brother. Ali’s father passed away several years ago and this was his situation. “I became aware of this as a problem because of my own situation, and since then I’ve become very supportive of girls and women.” Anthony translated for me the discussion that ensued about how girls often don’t feel there is any point in being involved in the development process or in school because they can never own or make any decisions, so what is the point.
The kids come tomorrow late morning. We’re trying to get ready for that, and also figure out an issue with the Flip Cams because they won’t import into Adobe Elements. I’m trying to download a possible solution…. Internet is great for problem solving. Let’s hope the solution works!
Today we worked out the whole rest of the media training plan and who would facilitate what parts. Everyone is taking on different roles according to their strengths and knowledge, and we’ll facilitate in pairs or teams. We spent the afternoon trying out the cameras, testing mics, etc., and then Anthony took us through the editing process in the evening.
The first day of training went by pretty smoothly. We had present Mwendar, the Community Based Organization (CBO) Chairman of Mwangaza, the community we’ll be working in, Ali a local artist and CBO secretary from Msambweni, Mercy the district information officer who’s also studied participatory video, Rama a university student from the area who’s studying media and communications, Madzo, who is involved with a youth environmental organization, and Anthony, Wajuhi and me from Plan. In the evening, Ali K, another youth also joined us.
It’s been really interesting seeing how Anthony and the Plan Kenya team have worked hard to ensure that the project is really fully integrated and tied into the existing work and programs so that it’s not seen as a parallel project. It is being integrated into the community planning process, and grounded by the recent child rights based situation analysis that was done in all the Plan Kenya work areas. It’s also linked in with the community radio project and informed by the existing community ICT programs.
We spent the morning getting set up and trying to get a generator since Thursday’s is “no power” day in Kwale. The generator came but it didn’t work, so we had to manage without electricity. It wasn’t too big of a deal since both laptops we are using have good battery life. The main things we covered were introductions, expectations, a project overview, and child protection and ethics. Merci also gave an explanation of participatory video.
We discussed with the community chairman how to manage/handle any issues of potential conflict if they came up. Having the CBO chairman is really valuable because working together, youth and CBO, will limit potential conflicts around topics that might be addressed. Wajuhi and Anthony are really stressing the importance of community ownership, the ways that video and photos and art can be used to catalyze discussions in the community, and the importance of the follow up and documentation process. We discussed ethics, and the use of the community’s name in case possible difficult subjects, and child protection in terms of possible implications of discussion particular topics. The chairman said that it would be fine to use the community name, but that in the case of sensitive or taboo topics, it would not be right to identify certain persons. He suggested that those types of issues be dealt with using drama instead so that the topics would still be raised by in a less conflictive way. In the end, he also said, this is a joint project with the youth and the community, so the topics would be agreed upon by all, even if they were addressed from the youth’s own perspective.
Wajuhi told today about a video project she had worked on in the past where one of the participating children was orphaned and had been mistreated in the community, stigmatized, called names, etc. The youth did a drama film based on her story. It was shown to several CBOs at once. The CBOs from other communities began asking, “is that how you treat orphans in your community?” And the discussion led to “What about us? Do we treat orphans any differently?” On that came the question “Why are there orphans in our communities” and the answer: because of HIV/AIDS. So the community began planning efforts to deal with HIV as well as the situation of orphans.
The first step in the project process is mapping the community. Since Ali had experience doing community mapping, he led us through a practice mapping exercise at the end of the day to get a concrete idea of how community mapping can be a tool for identifying resources and assets, talking about community history and the community’s uniqueness, bringing up child rights issues (both where rights are being realized and where not), and making plans for what to film and photograph. Ali, the artist, is also a CBO member in his own community. It was great to hear him really focus in on ownership of the community’s challenges and not expecting others to come in to resolve things.
Someone mentioned that there was a dye factory that used to provide jobs, but that had closed. Ali asked if it was in the community, and said that if not, then we shouldn’t be putting it on the map. That we should deal with things in the community. Wajuhi added that because this project is about empowerment and advocacy, that when the youth had built up all the skills that we hope to strengthen within the project, that they could then look at issues that had causes outside the community, and get the support of the community as a whole to address them with anyone outside the community with power to make change on a particular issue.