Reflections on my experience in Kenya

On my last day in Kenya I spent the day on safari with Callum, Rosie, and Peter. It was such a fantastic day to see the variety of the Kenyan wildlife, as well as a way to wrap up my experience in Kenya. It put the opportunity and experience that I have been given and worked for into perspective, as I have been extremely lucky to have traveled to and around Kenya, meet selfless, genuine people, teach university students, seen upcoming development projects, been a part of another culture, and to experience a safari. 

This experience has taught me how rewarding it is to engage in communities, to be a part of growth and development within the community, but also, and maybe more importantly, individual lives. It is individuals who work together to help one another and pass that help on to other people who work towards the bigger picture. It was because of individuals that I met in Kenya and their hopes and dreams, that communities were able to form, grow, and engage with other peoples hopes for their communities, and actually make change for the better.

This opportunity also gave me a chance to go out of my comfort zone, not only in the sense of engaging with communities in Kenya, but also travelling with people who I wouldn’t usually travel with, and being put in a situation where I have to believe in myself. When arriving back from Kenya I started a full-time job. I felt that from going out of my comfort zone in Kenya, I was comfortable going out of my comfort zone once more when entering a new environment – the work environment! This experience has made me believe in myself when faced with an unfamiliar situation, and have more confidence in who I am and what I am capable of. 

Going to Kenya is an experience that I will always remember and treasure, and hopefully apply to my everyday life and future career in helping others. 

Advertisements
Aside

Once again today we drove out of Nairobi and saw a variety of different landscapes that the Kenyan countryside has to offer – luscious green mountains, fields of trees and vegetation, as well as acres of dried landscapes. The drive to the Massai Mara was interesting as we drove further away from Nairobi and closer to rural villages, signs of poverty were more present – litter on the sides of the road, people living in mud huts, and rocky roads rather than tarmac.

As we reached the Massai Mara we checked into our accommodation. The campsite was beautiful with colourful flowers and trees surrounding the tents. Our tents were big and had two double beds in each tent, which the connected to a concrete bathroom. I was excited to stay here for the night, although with the amount of flies and bugs that filled the tent in the evening, it turned out to be problematic! After putting our stuff in our tents, we went to the Massai village. The male villagers performed there traditional dance, showed us around their huts and how they make fires, as well as educating us about their traditions and lifestyles. Afterwards the selling of their handcrafted jewellery commenced! I wanted to buy some handcrafted gifts to give people back at home, so I was interested to see what they had. I did buy some jewellery, however my haggling skills were not great as I felt the pressure of the men waiting for me to name my price. After I bought some items we met the women and they greeted us with a song. Round the corner from where they were standing, more women were waiting for us in wooden frames with more handcrafted items that they wanted to sell. People swarmed around us putting different items in our faces with the hope of a sale. I wanted to buy some items from the village in particular as I wanted the villagers to receive my money rather than someone looking to rip off tourists, however the forceful sale was too intense for me! We then took a short drive in the Massai Mara safari and saw some wonderful animals such as zebras, giraffes, antelopes, and hyenas, although my favourite was seeing the lions and their cubs! This short taster trip into the safari was amazing and I can’t wait to see what animals we see tomorrow!

Once again today we drove out of Nairobi

Londiani

Driving out of Nairobi today and seeing the Kenyan landscape was incredible. I had never realised, or expected, how mountainous and green the Kenyan countryside is. We stopped off at The Great Rift Valley – as it was on the way to Londiani – and took in the magnificent view. I even learnt some history! Continuing on the journey the wildlife that we saw on the side of the road was incredible – zebras, baboons, donkeys, and monkeys. I am use to seeing sheep, cows, and maybe the occasional rabbit, but nothing like this. Usually I would argue that maybe if the Kenyans came to England and saw the English wildlife that I take for granted, then maybe they would be amazed, but there are still sheep, cows, and rabbits here too!

Out journey to Londiani took longer than what we were advised – I am learning quickly that Kenyan time is slower than English time – but the time travelled was worth the wait. The road up to the school had huge pot holes and cracks, making it impossible to get the car up the hill, however with a push from the locals and myself, Callum, and Rosie walking up the hill, the car made it. As we were walking up to the school, there were some children who were laughing and following along with us. As we reached the school the teachers were waiting in a line to greet us, and all the 200+ school children were also there, singing and dancing to welcome us. I was so overwhelmed that I managed to step in cow poo! We followed the children to the school office where we sat down and the head master Daniel. Daniel and the other teachers welcomed us and showed us around the school classrooms and dormitories. The school provided dormitories for students to live far away, as it is unsafe for them to walk to and from school every day.

The procedures that have to be put in place for these young children to stay safe and have an education is outstanding. Being away from their parents and sharing a bed with numerous children must be difficult. I saw a girl with a scar along the side of her face – I don’t know the circumstances that resulted in the scar across her face – but it made me realise the extreme and unsafe environment that these people live in.

Daniel also showed us projects that he has in place, such as buying cows to supple the children with milk, and a well that he wants to make more of. Listening to the projects that Daniel has in place and the history of how he started the school was touching, and made me think that the world needs more people like Daniel. A man who does good for other people and who wishes to maintain and grow peoples quality of life. All over all our trip to Londiani was overwhelming and heart touching. Hopefully in the future the University of Brighton can assist Daniel in his plans to making a future for children.

Final day of the workshop!

Yesterday was our final day at the three day workshop. We started off the morning by watching the videos that the students had filmed and edited the previous day, followed by a reflection process about their finished videos. I took one group to the side and asked them what they thought the pros and cons were of their videos, in which they wanted to do the cons first to get the bad out of the way. I didn’t want them to feel negative about what they had done, therefore after every con I asked them what they could do next time to present the problem, and I also shared my experiences of problems that I had faced when producing videos, as a tool to encourage them to keep practicing.

The cons that they highlighted were as followed;

  • The lighting in some interviews was too dark. This could be prevented by using artificial lighting, or using natural light at a certain time of day so that it is at an angle.
  • The background noise was too loud to the extent that you couldn’t hear what the interviewees were saying. To prevent this problem a clip on mic could have been used or recorded through audio, and differenting editing software could have been used to edit out the background noise.
  • Some people / potential interviewees did not want to participate, therefore interviewees could be planned and contacted in advance.
  • The credits were too fast and needed to be slown down to give the audience time to read them.

Another con that the group did not pick up on but myself and Peter did, was that the content within the video did not have a structure in the sense that the interviews didn’t connect together and the aim of the documentary was not met. We shared this con with the group so that next time they can be aware of it.

Pros that they highlighted were as followed:

  • A variety of creative camera shots and angles were used.
  • The group also liked the background music, however I highlighted to them that they can’t use copy right music, they must have permission from th artist, use their own music, or use music from internet sites that have music that is not copyright.
  • The third pro was the use of swahlil and Engligh within the documentary.

I was really impressed by the groups reflection process. Initially I was worried that they wouldn’t be critical about the cons, however they were, and I hope that what they learned will benefit them in any future project, as well as seeing the benefits of the reflection process in general.

We then showed the students how to access google docs and how to create accounts on wordpress, as both sites can be used as tools to communicate and share knowledge on a global scale. I felt like this process rounded off the three day workshop and showed how you can communicate through online engagment. I am very interested to see how they progress with the skills that we have taught them!!

 

Confidence, Knowledge, and Sharing

Through the video production workshops that were held today, engagement between teachers and students began to take shape and grow. The morning began with myself, Rosie, and Callum introducing the students to procedures and techniques within video production, as well as setting the students tasks – such as producing mindmaps and story boards – so that they could start initial stages of producing their own documentary.

After software issues and difficulties yesterday, I felt that I lost any confidence that the students may have had in me, however I believe that I restored that confidence today when going through the video production handbook, and directing the procedures. I saw this confidence and comfort begin to grow when students would start asking questions about documentaries and engaging in dialogue. When watching the students carry out interviews for their documentaries in the afternoon, it was nice to see them coming out of their shells, creating realities out of their visions, sharing an enthusiasm, and using techniques that I had taught them. It felt good to be able to have confidence in the knowledge that I was sharing, and seeing the students understanding and applying it.

When myself, Rosie and Callum were speaking to a student on a tea break, he informed us that he wishes to share the knowledge that we taught him to empower those who have no knowledge of ICTs or social networking. If one person goes away from this workshop and teaches the skills to at least one other person, then I will be happy – although I do hope that they take it further!! 

Last day of teaching these students in this workshop tomorrow, so hopefully this positivity will continue!!

Scenario Based Workshop

As part of the workshop of the first day of teaching, we split the group up into three groups, took a group each, and asked them questions regarding community media centres (CMC). The questions and answers in the scenario based workshop were as followed….

Q. What was you motivation to be involved in these three day workshops?
A. – I want to know how to develop social, political, and financial sectors by interfacing media into the community.
     – I want to know how a graphic designer can use the media.
     – I want to know how PR can use the media to reach a range of people and improve communication.
    – I want to know how to create blogs, how to share ideas with other communities, different ways to capture information, how to make videos, and how to take photographs.  I also want to set up CMCs across the nation.
    – I want to learn how to mobilise the community, ensure that information gets passed, raise awareness of issues, learn new tools and networks to communicate.

Q. What does a community media centre (CMC) mean to you? How might it benefit your community?
A. – To have a CMC there needs to be a reciprocal exchange of reliable information and ideas. Community radio, television, different networks. To have a CMC you will need A – a physical location to engage and exchange in ideas, and B – Aid packaging information.
   – To have a CMC information needs to be accessed and shared, making it accessible to have debates and raise issues, to make voices to be heard at a national level.
  – CMC is a tool for civic engagement and campaigns. It gets information from centres, and utilises local media, not national media. IT also provides access to the internet.
   – A CMC is the mass media reaching out to people. It is the ears, eyes, and most importantly the mouth of the community. It voices out issues and needs to achieve maximum community potential.

Q. What resources would be needed to establish and sustain a CMC? How might these be aquired?
A. – The resources needed would be different types of resources, people as resources, material resources, volunteers, trainers in ICTs, people who can write. To have a CMC there also needs to be a library, documentation centre, a room, computers, videos, cameras, etc. To maintain the CMC there needs to be financial resources like sponsorships, material such as literature to educate people, and people need to have matching priorities in order to grow in the same direction.
   – The resources needed are the internet, computers, trainers, media / IT literacy, and the knowledge of how to integrate with technology.
   – We would need to establish how to mobilise and expose communities, make affordable and simpiler technology, and but more networks up in rural areas.
   – Technology needs to be affordable and accessible. There could be an educational summer camp with small charges, educational investments, and more tourist attraction. There could be a website to create awareness.