Archive for May, 2009

Yippee!!! Mika and his colleague Ville at Plan Finland have been working on a tutorial video for using Frontline SMS since our Social Media for Social Change (SM4SC) workshop in December. They just posted it and it’s really helpful to better understand how mobile data gathering works in general.


We’ll be having a workshop coming up in June in Kenya to see how to use Nokia’s Mobile Data Gathering Software, so soon I hope I’ll have a good understanding of how this whoe thing works so that we can train others to use it.

For YETAM we are looking at how we can use mobile data gathering software to do follow up monitoring in the communities following the YETAM workshops. The idea is that during the arts and media workshops, the kids are discussing issues most important to them. Then they make videos, photos, arts, etc. to investigate the issues, and bring them out, and to generate dialogue in their communities on the issues in order to try to bring about positive change by engaging peers, community at large, decision makers, and Plan (in case Plan hasn’t been aware of the particular issues the youth are looking at). But how are we monitoring afterwards to see what is happening at the individual youth level, and at other levels? How are the youth able to measure their impact on the issues they’ve chosen?

So we are planning to work with them to develop mobile surveys related to the changes they hope to create in the communities, and then they could monitor their progress on the issues through the surveys. They would also make videos/photos, etc. to show their progress, but in addition now they would have some data as well to help them shape their approach and measure their impact.

Sounds cool to me!

Read Full Post »


Ali K, Ali M, Rama, Wajuhi and I went to a second hotel to work for the last 3 days on editing final versions and translating from local languages (Digo, Duruma) into Swahili. We didn’t have enough time to get them into English so I have to follow up on that from home. We worked from 9 a.m. till sometimes 2 a.m. and eventually finished 9 short videos on the themes of:

  • Coconut as an economic activity
  • Disability and traditions part 1 and 2
  • Overcoming disability to succeed
  • Traditional healer
  • Poor performance in school
  • Amina’s Story
  • Women’s group
  • Tuff Gong Town Cleaners

My favorite surreal night was sitting in a lounge area near the hotel bar with our laptops and headphones, etc. Outside near the pool was a tourist show of Maasai comedians, leading into Maasai singing/dancing. Amazing music, but not sure how I felt about the location of it — not quite the same as it might have been in situ. Following that, they put on 80s German techno music. When that was over, we watched Wrestlemania’s 25th anniversary in the background until around 2, slapping mosquitoes and yawning while Ali M and Ali K transcribed videos. Ali K asked me if it was real.

The flights home were uneventful but long…. and I’m so jetlagged! I was supposed to go to a capoeira event Friday night and then all day Saturday but forget it! Am hanging out with the kids and getting caught up on housework instead!

Read Full Post »

We ended up taking a nice break Saturday afternoon to go to the beach. Really nice. Took tons of photos. Ended up trading acrobatic tricks with the guys so that was fun – everyone showing different moves and people trying it out. I only had like 2 things I could do – this one capoeira move – queda de rins and a headstand where you push up into a handstand — but it was fun showing them how to do it. I think we all needed a break.

Anthony and some of the guys stayed up till like 4 a.m. getting rough cuts of 12 videos done since that was the goal for the week. I stayed up sorting photos, but not till 4!

Sunday we had a light morning. We did the evaluation by asking what was the most significant change they had experienced at the personal level during the workshop, and what change did they want to see in the community. This led into a selection of the issues that the kids want to address in the community going forward. What really came out was poor performance in school – especially for girls, early marriages/early pregnancies, disabilities/the community attitude towards those people with special needs (the community still practices exposure and infanticide if children are born with any type of disability), and youth participation/youth action to make these changes in the community. They will work on their action plan this coming week including how they will use these and other videos they will make, along with any skills they’ve learned this week to bring about some changes in the community in those areas.
Summary of some expressions during the evaluation:

“I’ve learned that change comes from within and not from outside.” Community Chairman

“I would like to work on the issue of disability because the community needs to know that every child has a right to life and disability is not inability.” Ali
“Now I’m viewing arts and media in a very different perspective – as a vital tool in sharing and disseminating ideas/issues thereby transforming the lives of people around the world” Ali K
“The workshop has changed my attitude so I feel that I can do something better for my community.” Vincent
“I’ll make a change of early pregnancy in the community and I will stay with all girls and discuss the way girls get pregnant when they are at school and how they get it easily.” Violet

“Before I joined the workshop I didn’t have an ambition, but after I joined I was taught how to use camera, to edit, to interview people and now my ambition is to become a journalist.” Samira
“I discovered my responsibilities as a youth and a technique that I can use to convince people in the community towards positive attitudes. As a youthI will make sure that the young generation is given a chance to participate in the community.” Dickson

“I would like to work on the issue of early pregnancies. It really touches my heart as it makes most of the girls in my community not fully acquire the right to education.” Chimoche

“I have come to know how to sort out problems from the community through friendly negotiation and I have developed empathy to some things.” Bomaz
“It has helped me to look at things from a broader perspective and I am in a better position to reflect on the different situations that I come across and make necessary adjustments… I would like to use of the skills I have acquired to help the community reflect on their situation so that it changes for the better.” Rama

“I’ve been introduced to the method of looking at things/issues at different levels hence identifying the consequences and impact they may have in the community.” Zainab (teacher)

We all got on the bus around 2.30 to drive everyone back to their communities, including the 2-3 kids who lived in other communities. The door fell off the bus last night as we were coming back from the beach, so the bus was really breezy. We drove around through really lush green areas where the national park and elephant sanctuary is first (and saw a herd of 4 elephants!) and then through a very arid place, and then back to a different hotel right on the beach where Wajuhi, Ali K and Ali M, and Rama and I will put the finishing touches on the videos, do the transcriptions and translations, and wrap it all up before we go home on Wednesday. There was Arabic music playing in the bus and the guys got going singing all these songs in Swahili on top of it. Maybe some of it will be nice for background music on the videos?

We got to our hotel around 6.30. It’s really nice – gorgeous floors and wood staircases, white washed, beautiful gardens, right on the beach. Since it’s low season Plan Kenya gets a good discount price. But I guess it’s geared to the older tourist. They were having bingo at 9.15 last night! I checked out the beach this morning and it’s not that great of a beach because it’s not flat and there is a lot of seaweed washing up, but nice for a solitary walk in the early morning.

Read Full Post »

The kids are doing such an awesome job with the cameras – taking great shots. And the film quality from the little cameras is so nice – it really picks up the light well and you can even film inside a hut. (Just wish there wasn’t this glitch with having to convert all the Flip films before using with Adobe….)

We have stories in production by now on several topics – change of attitude towards religion, use of coconuts and their byproducts, the local dispensary (clinic), early marriage, games children play, the Kaya ceremony and traditional dances, poor performance in school, water, economic activities, child pregnancies, town cleaners, and disability from the angle of tradition and from the angle of a disabled man who’s gotten ahead in life. You can hear the kids analyzing, looking at things in a broader way, thinking through their stories and how they will show different angles of the situation/issue/story. It’s so cool to see them building up those analysis and communications skills.

We’ve been trying to do both filming and editing, splitting into groups to make the most of the equipment and space, transportation, etc., and it’s been flowing really nicely! The power outages have been a small issue but we’ve got great laptop batteries – extra batteries for each laptop, which means we can work without power for up to 6-8 hours on each laptop. So power is not such a problem with editing if we do it in small groups. Yesterday the water went off too, and we got a little nervous that the training center staff would go home for the weekend and leave us without water, but it came back on again around 9. Relief!

As for internet access, there is this amazing little modem that you can get for like $40 and you just buy minutes for it like you would for a mobile phone. Connect it up to your computer and run internet off the 3G network. I’m wondering why I don’t have one! And if it’s possible to get one that works in multiple countries with local sim cards. I’m sure I should already know this, but I don’t so will investigate…..

We’ll finish up filming and editing at least the rough cuts today. Tomorrow we’ll do the follow up planning with the youth and the evaluation. They will go home and I’ll stay here till Wednesday night with 3 of the older community members/youth to make the final edits and do the transcriptions and translation, as well as ensure all the photos are captioned and everything is organized. Lots to do still, but we are getting near to the end and we’re on track. It’s cool to see how much discussion goes on when they kids are editing about what to put in, what to take out, what makes the story and what angle. Really feel that it’s important that they do the process from beginning to end. We can polish their videos after if necessary, but it’s important that they put them together from their own point of view.

Read Full Post »