reflections on the Kenya trip.

On our last day in Kenya we took some time out to relax in the sun and recount our experiences throughout the trip. We said our fair wells to all the staff at the Hartebeest camp that had taken such good care of us during our visit, but for myself it felt like a ‘see you again soon’ rather then a final goodbye as I thought about how I could continue to contribute to the project beyond the trip. I felt ready to return home and see friends and family, but equally I knew how instantaneously the memories accumulated over the trip would create a longing to go back.

Reflecting on the trip itself and the work we committed ourselves to during the two weeks we were there, I feel lucky and extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able participate in such an ambitious project that has some real potential. I have learnt how important it is to humble yourself before all people you encounter no matter your position or their own, to see and participate in such work in which every individual involved has a say of equal validity and with considerable effect on the direction of the project is exciting and something that I have not seen before in my working life. With no emphasis on status or positioning the ethos of community media for Kenya holds everyone at equal distance from each other, I think that this is were the work gets it’s strength from and I hope that this ideal can be maintained as well as can be as the project continues to grow.

From working with university students in Nairobi to the safari on the Masai Mara each and every experience has been eye opening and enriching. I have learnt more about myself and the world around me on the two week trip than any text book has ever taught me. The skills and knowledge I have learned from this trip will serve me well in the future, but more then that the trip has given me a heightened sense of respectful humility for culture and people that cannot be learned.

Visiting Kenya has been something I have wanted to do for a long time and something that I will not be able to forget. The way in which this project allowed us to do so felt like the right way to approach outreach work, and will be the only way I can see myself working in similar projects in the future. Peter’s mantra of ‘learning from experience’ has proven to be the best way to learn. I hope that my experience’s in Kenya will feed further experiences positively back in the U.K. and I look forward to continued contributions to the project and to seeing it evolve.  

Masi Market.

Today we went to meet Kris in the town centre. We first went to an italien restaurant and reflected on the previous days meeting. Kris expressed his feeling’s of positivity from the meeting. I feel that if everyone is able to get and keep the ball rolling on all their ideas then the project will go far. I was impressed by Kris’s knowledge and vision for the community media projects.

After lunch we headed into the Masi Market with Kris as our shaperone. We were quickly and strategically spilt from each other and crowded by sellers. Peter made great friends right away with a player wanting to charge him for being his shaperone around the market “I’m gone” he shouted ” this man is english, they don’t feed us, I prefer Americans” they were born to disagree with eachother.

After a fun spot of hagaling with the sellers and getting lost in the noise and busel of preachers and beggers, we slugishly made our way out of the market stopped by each and everyone one of our new best friends on the way out. Once out of the market we said our goodbye’s to Kris and travelled back to the camp again for a hearty Ugalie a couple of tuskers and then bed. Tiring but fun day.

Ruiru meeting at focus youth initiative centre and project lucas orphanage.

After a lazy morning we left for Ruiru around 10. When we got to the centre we met Kris, Roman, Mike and Vincent and sat down for a meeting about the way forward with their combined work towards the ICT skills development project. Me and Rosie mainly audited and took notes throughout the meeting be were asked our final thoughts towards the end. There was alot to talk about and follow, after a brief introduction from everyone Mike outlined the itinerary and what he believed to be the three main areas of discussion for the meeting.

The three main topics up for discussion were the remodelling of an annual conference bringing key figures in to share ideas and meet each other. How to organise the training workshops such as the ones we had par taken in from here on out and how to properly support the community media centres in a sustainable and manageable way.

Initially Peter opened up the meeting by discussing his idea’s for setting up a community media interest group back in the U.K that could channel investors and supporters through one organisation to make funding and contributions more manageable and accessable to potential investors. After suggesting how support for the CMC’s could be managed from the U.K Mike opened up the same questions for how support can be sustained in Kenya. It was agreed between Mike, Kris and Roman that long term sustainability would have to come from the ground up, people in the communities would need to see and understand the potential for CMC’s first to then be more willing to contribute, Peter emphasised the idea that it should be approached in a reciprocal manor, and discussed with Kris the potential with new partnerships established at the Hill Park workshops between the rongo university, the potential for Kenyan students to come to the U.K and teach workshops much in the same way.

Mike then emphasised the importance of proper co-ordination moving ahead with these ideas, bringing it back to the three topics Mike expressed that it was now the how? that should be asked. The resounding understanding then among the group was that they should set up one single organisation to co-ordinate all the activities under one roof, making communication easier to manage.

Other items for discussion included a discussion about partnerships, everyone came forward with the partnerships they had been overseeing and agreed to an open policy with sharing contact details and developments in these relationships.

After these Mike brought everyone back to discuss the way forward and conclude on proceeding’s. The four main things to move forward with that I identified from the meeting were, forming a community interest company, developing and writing a memorandum of understanding between all partners, Developing a network between the CMC’s and creating a model/strategic plan as a basis that all CMC contributors and developers can work from.

After the concluding thoughts from Mike he opened the forum for everyone to contribute their own concluding thoughts. For myself, feeling that the discussion had stretched far into the future for plans that would take some time to develop I thought I would bring it back to the basics and reitterate that it would be important as a basis to go forward with all these plans to have a well defined and coherent philosophical framework that was written and understood throughout the organization, this way new partners would have a full understanding of what to expect and how to interact with the organization especially as a community run organization in which every individual has a say, this way it will be easy to see if the direction and intentions of the project change as the project grows. I felt I had witnessed an important moment for the community media project and I look forward to seeing it grow and fulfil it’s potential.

After the meeting we then travelled a short distance to visit the Project Lucas orphanage, we brought lollipops for all the children and played with them all taking photos, playing football and catch and talking to them all. They were all so lovely and well behaved, I was taken of to a classroom to help teach the kids some english. They were learning about passive and active phrasing and past present and past participals (something I had long forgotten) I read from the handy teachers book that was sat infront of me, it was a breeze, I don’t know what Peter is complaining about teaching is easy. After moulding a few minds and playing with the kids outside again we left to travel back to the Hartebeest camp. Another great day in Kenya.

Masi Mara!

Today we left early for the Masi Mara we travelled 5 hours out of Nairobi until ashvalt met dirt track, the first thing we did was to enter the Masi village on the outskirts of our camp. The Masi are an incredible tribe, the most awsome thing that we learnt was that at 15 a Masi boy is strewn to the wild along with other boys in the village his age. They live from 3-5 years in the wild and towards the end of their time they must hunt and kill a lion to prove their manhood.

After watching and dancing along with the Masi men as well as visiting their homes it was straight to bargaining for trinkets. I snagged myself a lions tooth and a necklace for 2,000 KSH and a rubber braclet with the colours of the Kenyan flag and the words ‘Learn, Empower, Grow’ on it. We had ordered them before coming.

After visiting the Masi village on the first day we went on an evening game drive. We saw Gazelles, Zebra’s, Elephants and Hyenna’s but the highlight was unquestionably watching a 16 strong pride of lions and lionesses wake up from a long day nap and play with their cubs. Their beauty was astounding. Then it was back to the camp for sleep.

We woke early the next morning ready for a second drive. On this drive we saw Topie, Ggazelles a plenty, Zebra’s a plenty and a huge heard of elephants as well as large grouping’s of wildebeast and various other animals preparing for migration. We visited the hippopotamus at a hotel lake and saw a crane as well as many other wonderful birds. Then as we were travelling back and Peter was just saying how much he would love to see a cheetah, one just strolled out of the thicket onto the path in front of us. We couldn’t believe our luck, the cheetah posed for a few pictures and then strolled back into the grass to find a nice spot of shade under a tree. Magnificent.

Heading back to Nairobi now where Laura will be getting ready to go back to the U.K. It will be sad to see her leave, it has been great working with such an enthusiastic person even with all her famous toilet breaks. I didn’t think Londiani could be topped but the Mara was another overwhelming and unforgettable experience. I’m extremely grateful for such an incredible opportunity, it will be hard to re-adjust to life back in the U.K.  

Londiani

Wow! Feeling elated and overwhelmed by the children and staff at King’sWay preparatory school in Londiani. A four and a half hour journey by car brought us to Londiani and to the school. We were greeted at the gates by staff and a chorus of beautiful school children dancing, clapping and singing the words “Welcome, welcome we love our visitors.” From the moment we entered it was impossible to withold from smiling the whole time, we dropped off two boxes of books and sweets for the children.

Then it was a tour around the school grounds, we visited each classroom to the sound of children singing. In year one Peter was in despair at the sight of a young school girl wearing an arsenal beanie, so to even the balance whilst taking photos Peter got them to replace “cheese” with a “Chelsea!”

What struck me was how much had been done with so little and how much the smallest contribution could benefit the school out here. This has been the best day in Kenya thus far. Beautiful countryside, Beautiful culture, Beautiful people.

Workshop day 3

Today was a slightly more lax workshop day, having edited the short documentaries from yesturday’s workshop in the morning we all watched the two films on the the projector together. I was bowled over by both final products of each group. With basic equipment and under extreme time both groups had produced two pieces of work that had strong narratives, a good sense for structure and a sense for composition in shots that had clearly been well thought out. Ofcourse there were minor technical glitches and mistakes in the pieces however after a critical reflection session it was apparant that the students saw and understood how these imperfections could be resolved, the main factor being time in both cases.

After a teabreak we spoke about social networking and delivering materials online via various websites such as google docs, wordpress and Facebook. I think the most vital tool online will be the google docs share space. From here students can work together over a distance once they return to their individual homes. I hope that the importance of a network between all the websites through sharing is understood and sustained.

After these tutorial sessions we wrapped up for the day, Willice gave an excellent final speech which I was gutted to miss the beginning of, however I felt the most important sentiment was heard. Willice quoted bernard shaw along the lines of expressing that the youth not the older generation will be the pioneers of change.

Reflecting on the past three days I am confident that this sentiment will not be lost on the students we worked alongside. I look forward to being party to and seeing the ideas expressed in the workshops fulfilled and the project evolve outside of the hill park hotel. After lunch we had a final photo and exchanged details with all the students. I am proud of what we have achieved.

Workshop day 2

Today was another busy workshop day. Myself Laura and Rosie were left to conduct the workshops. We began with a short presentation briefly outlining the order of the day. We explained that today we would be combining the practises we learnt on the first day to produce a focussed piece of work, a documentary that persued the issues prevelant to to them as discussed in the morning sessions the day before.

To try and hone ideas in the morning we split the students into two groups assigning each individual a role within the group. The five roles were director, producer, camera operator, researcher/interviewer and editor. After assigning roles within the group we got them to mindmap their ideas for their documentaries.

Out of the mindmap the two focussed subjects emerged, ‘youth unemployment’ and ‘deploying CMC’s’. After a short break we got straight into production. It was impressive to see the level of proffessionalism from the students.

After tea came post-production editing. Eager engagement only escalated further as the day went on. I’m pleased with what we have all achieved today, I feel I learnt more from the students then I could teach them which made me eager to increase my efforts throughout the day.

scenario based learning workshop day one

On the first day of workshops at the Hill Park hotel the first excercise we conducted with the students was a scenario based learning excercise. In this excercise the students were asked to respond to various questions designed to prompt an informal discussion about community media centre’s and the potential that community media outreach programs could realise in their various communities. The students were prompted by 5 questions but in some cases discussion evolved beyond these parameters.

Q.1  What was your motivation to be involved today?

A:

– To meet people with the same interest and share information with one another.

– To develop more knowledge for both personal and communal gain, knowledge is power.

– To learn more about how my skills can be utilized for the benefit of my community.

– To develop more pratical knowledge.

Q.2  What does a community media centre (CMC) mean to you? Share Ideas of how you think it might be of benefit to your particular communities.

A:

– It can be used as a designated meeting place for the community, to come together in one place to share the wealth of knowledge they have between them.

– Computer systems would be useful for documenting the heritage of the community, archiving information about people in the community will be useful to better understand ourselves and then see how we can develop what we already have.

– Developing stronger information systems within CMC’s will be of great benefit for local buisness’s such as farmers who could use the technology to learn more about the weather patterns and adjust their crop accordingly.

– From within the CMC social awareness campaigns can be developed based on the contributions from the community to adhere to localised issues and reach those area’s affected.

– Overall a CMC space would develop a stronger sense of community togetherness which could ease local conflicts and create a safe space for people to interact and exchange stories.

Q.3  What resources would be needed to establish and sustain a (CMC)? How might that be aquired?

A:

– Community participation from the ground up will be a must in order to sustain the developments that take place. The community must be actively involved from the beginning else it will be an external element that might not necessarily fully understand the needs of the community.

– Initial contributions will need to be sought in order to build the CMC and to put computers and equipment into the building. These contributions could be found in donations from philanthropists and possibly from the government funding parts of the project. The hardest part will be getting people to involve themselves for free. With the right incentives and demonstration of what the CMC could become this could be possible.

– In terms of practical sustainability, energy from solar panels could be a good self sustaining source. In order to sustain funding perhaps there could be a minor charge for specific activities within the CMC that are not part of a larger community project, such as casual use of the internet and personal use of equipment.

Q.4 What skills/knowledge/expertise do you possess?

A:

– Computer systems management.

– Information Science.

– Computer programming.

– Journalism.

Q.5  How do you plan to contribute to a) A CMC in your community? B) The network of CMC’s?

A:

– I plan to work with faculty inside the university such as the school of agriculture and various other departments that could contribute to the building and implementation of a CMC as well as within my community, talking to prominant figures and contacts within my reach to see what can be done.

– In the network of CMC’s I plan to contribute and participate within the online spaces and perhaps developing some of the spaces using my computer knowledge.

– Not everyone in the community necessarily has access to computers when they go back to their homestead, so perhaps to sustain the network some type of space that could be accessed through a mobile phone could be useful, and something that I could develop using my IT knowledge.

I was impressed by the eagerness of the students I worked with. They had no dilusions about how hard it would be specifically in the rural areas to develop a CMC centre. But they thought practically and thought well about how these area’s could be reached. As was brought up in the sessions, the most important area’s to reach would be these rural communities, these are the communities that make up the majority population in Kenya, and with some of the richest and untapped knowledge.

Work shop Day 1

Today we had an early start at 7am, 5am GMT+1. We all had breakfast again on the porch and discussed final plans for the workshop day ahead. Feeling excited and aptly prepared we made our way to the Hill Park Hotel around 9am. When we arrived at the hotel it was straight to the conference room for the first session of the day. Some great speeches from Willice, Peter, Cherri and Samuel sent a wave of inspiration into the room. It was great to see and hear all the different interpretations and visions for what community media could become, in particular Ii was inspired by what Cherri had to say about plans to create an online network hub that people can access and share knowledge from. What interested me about this idea was that anyone inspite of economic/social background would be able to gain access to the information to educate themselves as well as others about their own experiences and circumstances by uploading their own information.

After a short tea break we began with a skills and needs assessment workshop. In the group I worked with the most important issue for them was that the rural area’s that make up the majority of the Kenyan population are reached by the CMC projects. We discussed the physicalities of setting up a community centre, it was considered vital by the group that the indigenous population should be involved from the get go, adhering to and making the CMC relevant to their specific needs. After a lunch break me, Rosie and Laura conducted an introductory session on the equipment and software, my group seemed to really enjoy and get alot from the session in spite of already knowing alot about editing and filming. We came from the viewpoint that although most people could navigate the equipment and software reletively easily within the group, it was a useful excercise to be able to teach others who perhaps are less knowledgable about the software and equipment.The last portion of the day was spent introducing word press and blogging . I think everyone has now been warn out from all the hard work we have all put in. I’m very appreciative of such eager and interesting students and have learnt alot from them. I feel part of something that has the potential to exact real and lasting change.

Kenya Day 1 “wait guys I need a wee”-Laura Gorman

Woke up at 10am to the sultry sound of Peter Day’s voice. We gathered ourselves in the Kenyan sun on the porch of the Hartebeest compound before heading out into Nairobi. Kenya is Beautiful! We travelled a mile or two down the road from camp, stopping in malls and shops to pick up necessities. Water. Sim cards. Flip Flops. We then taxi’d back to camp taking a backroot to avoid traffic (The Kenyan Rally Competition).

In the backstreets of Nairobi it becomes clear, the vast economic gap in the city. Back at camp we began preparing for the workshops the next day. I’m looking forward to seeing how students will interpret Community Media based on their individual cultural and social mores. Met with Willice and Gordon over diner, both incredibly exciting and interesting Men, Willice’s laugh is infectious. Bed now, will mull over the prep for tomorrow in my sleep. Looking forward to another wonderful day in Kenya.