Glamping

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Getting up early for the safari was pretty exciting until the bus was late (surprisingly) but we got there in the end. Seeing the herd of elephants was definitely the highlight of the first part of my day, as we managed to get up close to see them with their young.

From probably the best day of the trip things changed with the news of the oil leak. As always we kept our spirits high and made light of the situation. Having been discussing how to defend ourselves under lion attack, when the van that was passing offered to tow us back to the gate I think I’m right in saying we were relieved. |f it hadn’t been for the late exit from the mara we wouldn’t have seen the two male lions which was another highlight of the day.

 

Continuing to keep our spirits high we played cards until Peter told us we would be staying at the camp. Arriving in the dark we hadn’t seen the tents and expected the worst, especially as the only facilities we had seen were the loos (holes in the ground) which were filled with cockroaches. However being taken to our tents was the third highlight of the day as we realised we were glamping! Squeals of excitement filled our tent until we realised how tired we were from the day’s ups and downs and fell asleep.

So many positives came from the breakdown. Some of us lived the dream in the luxury jeep with the honeymooners, we got to see some more hippos, we saw the male lions for the first time and experienced a night on the Mara glamping which meant we were there also for the beautiful sunrise.

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Community engagement vs community invasion

gold mine

When we arrived at the gold mine the teachers established a rapport with the locals before we got off the bus. This meant that the community were more willings to allow us to film and interview them. However it was only our group that had based our film around gold mining, so arguably the presence of the other groups and arrive on a coach was unnecessary.

 

Our group of trainers made a point of asking only the crucial roles (the interviewer, camera man, and one trainer) to be there during the interview so we didn’t crowd our interviewee. We felt this would allow the interviewee to give more honest answers, without being distracted. Despite this our groups and members of other groups didn’t really pay much attention to this suggestion. We thought their ignorance of this maybe something to do with the cross over of cultures that being crowded in this way would shy a prudish Briton, but not so a Kenyan.

 

When we got back to the university we faced a number of technical difficulties and for a time we really struggled to keep momentum and engagement. The other group had similar issues with editing so we combined groups and talked through the editing process as a whole. Accessing the community needs but also working with limited internet access was often challenging and frustrating. Having one computer controlling 4 desktops is cost effective but rather impossible when it came to trying to edit because it meant everything was very slow. Sometimes it felt like nothing was going to come together therefore when we managed to get the film finished it was quite an accomplishment, as I’m sure the other video, photography, and audio groups would agree.

 

Both at the gold mine and during editing we did our best to work on community inclusion. This was not quite the case when we made the 3 hour trip to Lake Victoria. Unfortunately the community wasn’t really expecting us which we have come to expect as part of the Kenyan way of doing things. This meant that even excluding us (the University of Brighton students), the discussions consisted of 1 community member to every 5 participants from Rongo University, and in the other group even more. In addition the academics from Rongo dictated and directed most of the discussions. Therefore what was meant to be community engagement turned into total community invasion. One of the students from Rongo even congratulated a community member on attending the meeting. I thought this a little patronising, especially as the community group had only been quickly been pulled together after our arrival so they probably didn’t have much choice.

 

The trip to Lake Victoria didn’t actually need the presence of the University of Brighton at all as we did nothing to contribute, except allow Jerry to present us like show ponies. Much like the meeting with the governor yesterday, I felt it was time wasted talking about what we are trying to develop here rather than actually making these things happen. However eating fresh fish and ugali with our hands was quite the Kenyan experience.

Thank you Captain Hindsight!

Our first day at Rongo University was a little tricky. Once we had got the housekeeping out of the way (and had about 3 meals by about 10am) we set ourselves up in groups. As less participants wanted to do photography, I quickly adapted and moved to the video production team.  When discussing the fact that I have far less editing knowledge than Maddy and Chaz, we came to the conclusion that this was in fact a help to our group. I was able to almost translate when Maddy and Chaz were explaining something that to them is second nature, I could put it into simpler more visual ways in order to communicate.  The tricky part of today was unlike Nairobi, out participants didn’t seem as keen, or seem to see the importance of the planning stages of the film. This was unfortunate because the planning and story boarding is extremely crucial, but we found keeping them focused and attentive was challenging. When filming though the group came into their own. They took their roles very seriously making sure they did everything that was required of that specific role.  In hindsight perhaps the planning stages would have been easier if we had done some kind of ice breaker, like the one in Nairobi.

“Welcome, welcome our visitors…”

Londaini school

Visiting the school in Londiani was a pretty amazing experience. After arriving to some welcome songs we had a delicious lentil lunch cooked for us by the headmaster’s wife. During the tour of the school that followed the issues they face in running this private school to such a high standard became clear. Despite being 5th out of 65 schools in recent results. The headmaster explained that the well they have is not sufficient and sometimes the children miss out on valuable education because they have to walk miles to the next well.

Having accessed the need we set about filming the footage we needed to put the film together. I managed to get a lot of B-roll of the children in their classes, whilst Maddy and Rod conducted the interview. Although before we knew it things got a bit hectic and Sarah and I were leading a class. This class posed for our cameras and giggled when we played the footage back to them. They asked us hundreds of questions and all at the same time, wanting to know everything about our lives back in the UK. It was the most welcoming and friendly environment.

Hopefully our visit will help their plans towards development, a stepping stone in the direction of providing them with electricity. This is very important due to the government demands that every school must have computer facilities.

In our hands

Lucy and I spent the second half of yesterday working on the Stories From Our Cities exhibition. While Lucy pulled together two photos from each photographer and gave them captions. I wrote an introductory piece to go alongside a photo of Brighton at the opening of the exhibition. Whilst sitting in the hotel in Nairobi mapping idea around Brighton’s key features I was able to see now more than before, how contrasting the two cities would work. This made me think about something David had said to me on the walk through Nairobi; “in Kenya you walk where you want to go [not where the crossing takes you]”. The obvious difference here is the traffic. However this struck me as a further metaphor for the cultural difference. In the UK youths follow an education program strictly until we are around 18, in Kenya it is not so clear cut. The path your life might take a a Kenyan is fair more in your own hands. As Willice suggested with his ending note today, “…all I know is the bag is in your hands”. This concept is reinforced by the theme of our video; entrepreneurship. The short film presents the idea that Kenya’s youth unemployment situation is such that some youths are turning to entrepreneurship as an alternative option. By taking matters into their own hands these youths like our interviewee and entrepreneur; Antony Kimathe. Are driven to carve out their own path to success in a way that perhaps we might take for granted in the UK. This can also be linked to the larger goal of our trip; to help empower youths towards increasing employability.

Training the trainer in action!

Today has been long but fab! Yesterday felt a little rushed and off the cuff in comparison. Today we got into the swing of things with an early start at the University of Nairobi. After successfully meeting with our interviewee and vox poppers who stuck to UK time rather than Africa (thankfully). We had an exciting trip to the hotel including a walking tour from three of our new Kenyan friends. We walked through uptown Nairobi and had, I’m told a very tame, ride on a matatus.

Suji was unfortunately late to the filming at the university and the others in the group had been somewhat hogging the equipment. Therefore when we arrived at the hotel I suggested I took Suji out to use the cameras. With the help of Maddy we got some useful B-roll footage before starting editing.

The editing process was surprising although Dekker had mentioned he had done some editing, he shocked us all (in the best way) by having made a behind the scenes film with the footage from yesterday at the UN building. As a result of this we decided it would be best to allow him to use the software he was familiar with (Las Vegas Pro) to edit. This worked as an exchange of skills as we were unfamiliar with this program, so he showed us some tricks and we were able to make suggestions on how to improve. The other members of the group were taking notes from Dekker, therefore this was the perfect example of our ‘training the trainer’ approach.

“Reflecting on experiences of ‘uncertainty’ helps shed light”- Joy Amulya, ‘What is reflective practice?’

Initially today was pretty daunting having to quickly adapt to the challenge of few participants attending. However this is perhaps to be expected with this type of community engagement as a factor of ‘real life’ (and with the issue of Kenyan time being something quite different to UK time). We were able to continue with most of our plan for the day which was reassuring as having a plan or outline kept us focused on what we were hoping to achieve by the end of the session.

Having worked through a mind map, we changed our schedule moving the equipment introduction before story boarding. I think my group would agree that we did this because we felt that the group were itching to get started. By addressing their need to get up and get to grips with the equipment this gave me the opportunity to draw up an outline for a storyboard so that we wouldn’t be waiting around. Although I have little video skills I felt I was able to contribute to the story boarding and ideas discussion confidently.

“If you can manage information you can manage the world” Dimitri- Director of UN Volunteers program

Today was full of interesting, challenging and engaging issues. Despite the fact that the quote above was taken from the UN Volunteers programme leader, for the most part we focused on the opposite of volunteering. A ‘partnership’ was formed between those from Brighton and our Kenyan partners. Note I’m avoiding the word leaders here to describe us, as I feel it is unfitting due to the mutual exchange of cultures, ideas and skills that today presented. Although we did lead the technical side of the training, what I found interesting was the unexpected amount I learnt from our partners. For example the formality of the day’s introductory speeches, alongside William’s comment that they “dress smartly because [they] recognise the occasion”, suggested not only how formal the Kenyan culture seems to be, and how important this training is for self development, but also towards developing their country’s engagement with social media at large. Therefore referring back to Dimitri’s idea that suggests the importance of presenting and sharing information coherently with and across nations. This ability to express one’s self through social media is, he implies, the basis for growth and development in many different aspects of Kenyan life.

Arriving in Kenya

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So having arrived in Kenya last night we had to have a few beers to get over our somewhat traumatic experience in Zurich. The camp was a bit of a culture shock to start with (especially the loos, which are not dissimilar to Glastonbury loos). At first getting up this morning was a bit of a struggle but breakfast in the sun was lovely.

After spending the morning getting to grips with the Kenya way and working on our training program for the next two days, I’m looking forward to getting started tomorrow.

The Kenya countdown

This is the first time I’ve used WordPress so I’m just trying to familiarise myself with it (not even sure if I’m posting this in the right place) but I thought best get to know it before we arrive in Nairobi on Wednesday!

Our meeting on Thursday (2nd) was useful in making a list of things I still need to go shopping for e.g. Insect repellent. But also having sat down with Angela and her detailed training manual on Premier I feel confident that I will be able to use the manual to help train out in Kenya. As I was unfamiliar with the software things that seemed obvious to Angela, Maddy and Lucy weren’t so for me, and this could be the case in Kenya. Angela had to make some amendments, after our dummy run so I think both parties benefited.

The trip really seems to have come around quickly (probably to do with the Christmas break). Having read through the schedule I’m excited to get there and get stuck in, to put faces to names and start turning our ideas into reality. Although we have to get over the first hurdle of the 12 hour layover before then!