Eduardo Ávila of Voces Bolivanas visited the Rising Voices grantee REPACTED project in Kenya. We have asked him to tell about his experience.
When did you visit REPACTED and why?
I visited Nakuru in late September 2008. One of the most rewarding aspects of being part of Rising Voices is the interaction with the other projects. Usually the interaction is over email or instant messaging, but I had been in Uganda and Nakuru was too close not to visit.
You met the REPACTED team. Tell us about them and their works:
Unfortunately, Collins, who I met at the Global Voices Summit would not be in town due to another commitment. However, the rest of the REPACTED team made sure that I had a good time and really went out of their way to make me feel at home. Even though I only spent one full day in Nakuru, I had the opportunity to witness a Magnet Theater performance. It was amazing to watch the entire process, from the assembling at REPACTED headquarters in central Nakuru, where 20 or so members piled into a mini-van to transport them to the site. When they arrived, the group participated in a series of songs and dances in order to draw the residents to the performance site. Once the crowd had assembled, a few members of the team would be the lead actors and present the situation. The topics are related to health and sexual health issues, such as condom-use, HIV testing and TB. The actors make sure to get the crowd involved by posing questions to them and even inviting them to role-play. Following the performance, the members of the team interact with the crowd and answer any questions they may have. Following the performance, the team returns to the headquarters where they debrief and provide feedback on what went well and what could be improved upon.
Here is a video of REPACTED members engaged in Magnet Theatre uploaded by Eduardo:
Repacted – Mobilization from eduardo ávila on Vimeo.
They also have trained some members to blog. What challenges the bloggers usually face?
The REPACTED organization recently started classes to teach their own members how to blog. With part of the Rising Voices funds, they purchased a computer, as well as a mobile Internet modem so that they can have Internet access in their office, which is only open from 9 am to 5 pm. However, since the size of the REPACTED group is so large, they have a weekly schedule where each member is given one hour to use the computer. This is better than nothing, but not enough to develop a practice and habit of blogging. There are Internet Cafés located in Nakuru, but the connection is often very slow. I held a blogging workshop at a local café, and there were not enough computers for interested REPACTED members. Even for those that were able to log on to their blogs, the time to upload a photo or even log into their blog, was very slow. This, again, is one of the obstacles for regular blogging.
What do they feel about blogging?
The members asked me why a blog is even important. I told them that they should consider blogs and technology to be a sort of window. They have the opportunity to show others from around the world what it is like to live in Nakuru, to participate in REPACTED and anything else that they want to show through this window. They can draw the curtains or leave them open.
Crowd gathered to watch magnet theatre
How are they coping up with the challenges?
One important thing that I noticed during my short visit is that the members of REPACTED have fun always. I think that is extremely important for community building and it is obvious that they enjoy spending time with one another. For now, I think they are only working with their fellow members. There is one blogger, Mshale, who is very skilled with video and video editing, but the challenge is to upload the video to the Internet. There are a lot of charismatic and outgoing members of REPACTED and I would love to see that reflected on their blogs. However, as mentioned before the slow Internet connection and infrequent access often discourages regular posting. One needs a lot of patience to be able to do so…
Here is the video of the wrap up session of Magnet Theatre:
Repacted – Wrap-Up from eduardo ávila on Vimeo.
Here are some highlights from the blogs of the REPACTED members, who are telling their stories online:
Mshale Milele calls for fighting corruption in Kenya. He writes about his passion in video editing:
Every outreach has its challenge but that doesn't stop me documenting everything that happens in outreach, some of the community members are scared to be filmed but i always Explain to them that my camera video love them most, and as a group it is important to review every outreach and improve on health issues.
He confesses that REPACTED has inspired his ability.
Lawrence Mwai has training in puppetry and tells about creation and maneuvering of puppets which are used during the magnet theatre performance.
Collins Otieno Sailasa writes about a concert titled Mr. and Mrs. Red Robinson which was organized with REPACTED to try to eradicate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.
James Karango writes some fiery poems about the social injustices Kenyans face. He writes:
To the kings and queens,
Of our beloved state,
Who drinks from wells granted?
At the expense of the villagers,
Who languish in gallons of poverty
James also wrote about the marginalization in Northers Kenya:
It is in a dilapidated state. People travel on top of carriers of lorries which have either transported goods or animals.
Ong'eng'e, a twenty years old member from Nakuru writes about a serious issue in his society – abortion of unwanted child. In a post titled “From the heart of an African lady” he writes:
I would blame poverty as the biggest cause. Many young girl escape responsibilities by aborting due to lack of resources and the fear of how to bring up the infant.
Here is his vow to change the world which is shared by many of the REPACTED members:
I want to advocate for a world free from HIV/AIDS and STIs infections and make them a thing of the past.
All images by Eduardo Ávila. See more pictures from his Flickr set.
This is an absolutely amazing paste. And a clear reminder that I need to work on my dance moves before I next head to Nakuru!
How great that Eduardo got to see all the talent and passion of these inspiring men and women first hand! Every time I read these wonderful RV project summaries I find myself longing to be on a plane, headed to meet all these superstars around the world.
Keep rocking REPACTED!
WOW!! Fantastic…REPACTED, Eduardo, and Rising Voices, you are all to be heartily commended!! One thing (besides the dance moves :)) that popped out at me are the technical challenges encountered by REPACTED members in attempting to blog. This is replayed in so many other parts of the world, too.
I’m wondering if we can brainstorm about ways to address this (getting around the “divide” as much as possible)? Some people who would otherwise blog and/or act as citizen journalists may become discouraged, and valuable voices thus might be lost.
I look forward to working on this and much more in 2009, and in the meantime and always, huge cheers and artistic affections to the members of REPACTED…we all celebrate on how many your remarkable work has IMPACTED!