ELEPHANT HEAVEN

Today we went to the Massai Mara which we have all been so excited about 🙂 it was a very bumpy ride in our little van but it was ammmaazzzziiinnnnggg once we got there. Seeing all the animals in real life was so good… it was like being in a film. Giraffes are massive and elegant and we saw loads of elephants including baby ones which was the best. They were by far my favourite. 

On our journey back we had a bit of a hoohar and the van broke down. Luckily a few of us got to go in a plush safari jeep to take us to the gates and we saw two male lions right by the van. It was a bit sad as they were really thin and the guide said they only had a week to live but that is nature hey! I wish that they we could have stroked them without us getting eaten.

The van took a while to get fixed and we ended up staying at a campsite just outside safari land as it wasn’t safe to drive all that way in the dark. The tents were really cool BUT me and maddy didn’t do good with the falling and crawling bugs around us… a night of being scared was all forgotten when we woke up and saw the most beautiful sunset ever 🙂 definitely the highlight of the trip!

Lake Victoria Travels

Today we went to visit potential partners at a school by Lake Victor with the University College Rongo. It took a while to get there but the there were some good views to see a long the way. Lake Victoria was really beautiful and the countryside was quite similar to England except a bit more barren.

When we arrived it was a bit of a palarva as not that many people from the community turned. I felt the same as I did the other day when we went to the gold mining village as there were so many us in comparison to the locals, we outnumbered them and I think it was a bit intimidating/off putting for them. We decided to sit out and the Rongo students held discussions with them. The trip didn’t seem that beneficial but it did highlight an important aspect of community work… not to invade a community! This can be avoided with good communication/research before the visit. Seeing Lake Victoria and the little villages on the way was nice though 🙂

Reflections on Rongo

Yesterday we took a trip to a near by gold mining village to capture the photographs for the workshop. The living conditions in the village were very poor and I found the whole atmosphere upsetting, I expected poverty but I interacting with the locals made it more real. The students were proactive and worked with our pre planned topics and were snapping loads. They kept checking up with myself and Sarah to check their framing was correct which was fab as it meant they had took on board what we taught them. When we got back we looked through the photos and as a group selected the photos for the video, there were plenty to chose from! Like in Nairobi, I was really suprised by the quality of work produced by the students. They got to grips with the basics really quick. We had some trouble finding a copy of Moviemaker that worked but eventually found a copy on a students laptop. We taught the students how to import photos, add transitions/text and decided what text to use. Our initial text had to be changed due to the content of the images was different to what we previously planned. It was getting late and both myself and Sarah were losing work momentum/enthusiasm and so were the students but Sarah saved the day by finding somewhere that sold cold Coke!
The visit to the village bothered me, I felt that it was disrespectful for a coach full of students and professors to turn up to the tiny village. Some locals didn’t want to be photographed and it caused a bit of a stir especially with the young children. Peter pointed out despite it being inappropriate we were doing it for a good cause and that this is an ethical issue of the media.
Today we had a meeting the deputy governor. I found it difficult to hear what was being said as I was sat at the back and there were lots of other noise but the response of the DP to our work was positive! Once we got back we polished off our video as a group. We decided that statistics would make the message we are conveying more powerful and showed the video to Peter who made a few suggestions for improvement. The group seemed happy with the finished video although they weren’t as enthusiastic as Nairobi students. I think that the video is visually engaging and raises awareness about health and poverty yet I can’t help but a bit negative about it due to the nature of the visit.

First day of workshops with University College Rongo

Today we began the workshops with University of Rongo. When we got there we were greeted by speeches from the principle, deans and professors. After this we split off into groups. Me and Sarah we designated the photography group and had 3 students.

The students were very quiet so myself and Sarah tried our best to be enthusiastic and friendly in hope of engaging them. We brainstormed ideas and our group decided that they wanted to focus on food and family. This was a difficult situation for us as we thought that this idea couldn’t be protrayed photographically due to our location and time span also we felt that this wasn’t a pressing issue that needs awareness raised around it. We spoke to Peter and Willice and they told us that we needed to explain this to them in a clear and sensitive way. Once we explained this to our group they understood and didn’t have a problen with it which was great.

After some more brainstorming the group decided to focus on health and poverty. We listed the main issues and decided that a story slide show would be an effective format to exhibit them in. We incorporated a format in which they can learn portrait and documentary photography.

We taught them framing, angles, how to use a tripod and narrow depth of field. At first this was difficult as they had no prior experience but once we handed them the cameras they picked it up really quick. I think this brought them out of their shell as they photographed and it caused a bit of a stir especially with the young children. Peter pointed out despite it being inappropriate we were doing it for a good cause and that this is an ethical issue of the media.
Today we had a meeting the deputy governor. I found it difficult to hear what was being said as I was sat at the back and there were lots of other noise but the response of the DP to our work was positive! Once we got back we polished off our video as a group. We decided that statistics would make the message we are conveying more powerful and showed the video to Peter who made a few suggestions for improvement. The group seemed happy with the finished video although they weren’t as enthusiastic as Nairobi students. I think that the video is visually engaging and raises awareness about health and poverty yet I can’t help but a bit negative about it due to the nature of the visit.

Travelling to Rongo

Yesterday we left base in Nairobi and travelled to a small private school in the rural village Londiani. The long coach journey meant that we got to see a lot more of rural Kenya which was a big change. The living conditions were a lot poorer with fallen down shacks and people selling on the side of roads. It was strange to see all the adverts painted on buildings and how each ‘shanty’ village had shacks for bars, hairdressers, butchers etc. I was also suprised to see how many people fitted on motorbikes… there were 5 on one! On the way we also stopped at Riff Valley view point which was a beautiful landscape.

When we arrived at the school they greeted us with singing which was really nice and a bit moving to see how grateful they were to have us there. We had lunch in a tiny room which was delicious. The school was really small considering the amount of pupils, they only had two toliets which were holes in the ground and the kids had to share bunkbeds between 4. All the pupils were fascinated by us and kept stroking us and asking us to sing and dance which was a bit overwhelming but cute. When the headmaster said that the kids board for 14 weeks then have 4 days off to see their families it made me sad as some of them were as young as 3 but I guess they are from a different culture and that is a sacrifice they make for a good education. We did a few interviews at the school and we are going to make them a video promoting how massively the school would benefit from money to get electricity and finish off building the well that they couldn’t afford to finish.

After we were finished at the school we travelled to University of Rongo and were greeted with a really nice meal. It was a long day of travelling (on very bumpy roads) but driving through the villiages was eye opening and the school visit made it more than worthwhile!

“The future is in our hands”: the last day of the video workshop

Today we completed the workshop with Focus Youth Initiative. Chaz, Sarah and Taylor worked really hard with editing last night but we had some to finish this morning. Final touches (text, voice over, graphics) had to be made before we exported it and uploaded it to YouTube. This took longer than usual due to the amount of people in our group. Everyone had their own opinion which was positive as it showed how they were all involved and enthusiastic but it also meant that each decision was discussed which was time consuming. I decided to take a step back and let Maddy, Taylor and Chaz lead the editing… they did a great job!
After the videos were completed, all the groups got together and had a screening. It was so rewarding to see how proud everyone was of the work they had produced – especially Dennis. In Willices speech he raised the point that “it is comfortable not to change history but to repeat it”. The videos that we trained the students to produce are vechiles which will raise awareness to issues they are passionate about; their own contribution to changing history. Now that they have these skills they can develop them further, continue producing videos and also facilitate the ‘training the trainer’ approach by passing the skills on in their communities. 

Over the course of this workshop I was pleasantly suprised the personal development of the students. They either had no or very little video knowledge and now they have made a 3 minute documentary in only 2 and a half days. What particularly struck me was hoe they paid attention to detail – everything was planned extensively and reshot till they deemed it spot on. I was really impressed at how they set up the interviews, even considering where natural light was hitting the interviewees face. Their attention to detail made me re-assess my own approach to video, taking a leaf out of their book with my own work!

In reflection, this workshop has been really really fulfilling. Peter raised the point of how community media empowers people to have a voice,  their vision of the future and the workshop did exactly that. Dennis said how he is now able to make music videos for his wife and Bernard said how he can now make videos for his charity. It was fun and enlightening working with people from different cultures, learning from each other. I now feel prepared for the next workshop in Rongo!

Progress with the Stories from our Cities exhibition

Today I was introduced to Fred after liaising with him over Facebook for the past few months regarding the Stories from our Cities project. We sat down and discussed everything that needed to be completed for the opening of the exhibition on the 20th. To begin with I was a bit overwhelmed with the amount of work that needed to be done as I didn’t realise the scale of the exhibition – he has arranged guest speakers,  performers and the work is being displayed to a professional standard. I clarified the different aspects he wanted me to do and ensured I had a clear picture of his vision of the exhibition in order to meet his expectations and have the work prepared before we leave for Rongo. He was really thorough which helped me engage with his vision and the work he has been doing in Nairobi. I admired how enthusiastic and driven he was and this encouraged me to crack on as I didn’t want to let him down.

In order to get the work down, I had to leave my video group which was unfortunate as our group were on a roll and the students were really progressing today. However,  I sat and did the work in the same room as the group so I could keep checking in with what they were doing and didn’t slip out the loop.

I explained to Jen what was required and we managed to get it all done this afternoon (including getting info from people back home) which was a success! I would have liked some more time to work on the project (get more images, stories, video clips) and more time working alongside Fred but that wasn’t possible due to the busy nature of this trip. Nevertheless, me and Jen made the most of the material we had. This did mean leaving out a few aspects of Brighton which we didn’t have material to reflect it such as the lanes.

Ultimately, I am really really pleased that the exhibition is going ahead as it was off the cards for a while… it is the part of the trip I have worked on/looked forward to most so I can’t wait to see it all come together on the 20th. A good end to the trip 🙂

The next step is planning how I am going to do the speech at the opening because I am real bad at public speaking and I’m REALLY nervous already… luckily Jen and Sarah said they would do it too and I’ll have to get some lessons off the master of delivering speeches (Sonja)

I will blog about the video workshop tomorrow once we have completed it 🙂

First day of youth development voices workshop

Today we went to the UN to begin our video production training… it was ACE. They had giraffe bushes and loads of flags. The day kicked off with informative speeches from Willice, Demetry, Kevin and Sonja (who did a fab job and was the best by far). After those it was down to us to get started on the workshop. This was a bit daunting but we did a successful ice breaker and got ourselves into two groups. Everyone was really quiet initially and not responding to our questions. To get over the challenge of engaging them and encouraging discussion we gave them examples of our own ideas and asked their opinions on them. This gave them an idea of what approach to take and soon revealed that they are very passionate and proud to be Kenyan and led to a mind map full of great points… they responded well to praise and I think this made them more confident in voicing their ideas so much so that we had to narrow our ideas down as they had too much to wanted to raise awareness about. When we started training them to the equipment it was really fun and they got to grips with it quickly… the filming of sarahs tribal marriage was a highlight. Another highlight was finding out about their background and culture and all of us discussing and comparing life in England and Kenya. Aside from the engagement challenge, another difficultly we had was that we were often talking over each other as we all had a lot to say and weren’t used to the dynamics of teaching in a group but that is something we have learnt from 🙂 overall, the training was productive and effective and I am looking forward to seeing the documentary develop tomorrow! (it is about peace, marriage and cultural diversity)

After the workshop we went to the massai market which was really cool but also a bit scary… people grab you and pull you over and someone wanted to buy my playsuit off me so I panicked and ended up getting ripped off for a kaftan that looks like its made from a potato sack.

I am now really tired but enjoying sitting in the garden with it still being warm 🙂 also, we the saw the first monkey of the trip in the garden during brekkie today. Ooh ah ah.