Habari from Maseno!

(Forgive spelling errors and photo quality – this blog update is brought to you by Blackberry!)

Greetings from Kenya!

Well, we made it. After close to 24 hours on planes and in airports, we emerged from the Kisumu airport weary but electrified by the bustling Friday night scene before us. The road is full of life… People walk, bikes weave, cars endlessly pass each other (hoping to get back into their lane before meeting oncoming trucks). There are smells of open cooking fires and the sounds of music from the dimly lit doors of village pubs. There are people everywhere… And now we are among them.

We write to you now from Maseno, a small town in Western Kenya with a spectacular view of Lake Victoria. Our first few days have found us following a visiting nurse contingent from St. John Fisher College. Documenting health care in a developing country is quite a new experience for us, one filled with challenges. During a community health screening at Mbaka Oromo primary school (pictured here) we saw hundreds of children cycle through a series of basic health tests. What struck me most was that these kids waited in the school yard, smiling, wrestling, laughing and in general just being kids. But during the health screening, we found out many feel sick at least once a week. Some have worms and jiggers (a foot parasite). Many eat only once a day. As video makers, it's a tough job to shoot video that reconciles these two truths about children. Balancing an identifiable need with the reality that joy exists, even in the most disadvantaged of situations, is a tricky business. For all of us it was an interesting experience and one that reinforced our desire to make an awesome video that will sustain this program and help raise money for the new health dispensary (more on that in the coming days).

On Monday we accompanied the nurses on their trip to Maseno Mission Hospital. We saw patients in all sorts of very difficult medical predicaments. Many cases of malaria, AIDS and the most heartbreaking… a child in a coma, his temperature near a fatal level. Even though we believe that telling this story is necessary to combat these awful health conditions and encourage more people to get involved, it simply doesn't feel right to video tape someone in their most vulnerable and fragile state. There are too many images out there of fly-covered African children, and we don't need to contribute to that stereotype. But we do need to tell the truth, and the truth is… there is great suffering here. While one nurse assisted with a child's high fever, the child died in her arms.

Yesterday, we switched gears a bit and headed up to Mbaka Oromo Primary School to do some teaching. Katie has been hard at work, teaching the award-winning choir one of her a capella songs from her Skidmore group (much more on this from Katie in a post to follow soon!) Dan and Erin headed to the library to begin a series of classes on video for the 6th and 7th grades. As many of you know, part of our fundraising included purchasing 5 Flip Cameras to bring and leave here, in order to create a sustainable video training program here at Mbaka Oromo. We began tentatively, explaining to a group of incredibly attentive and respectful kids about Good Eye Video – that we make our living in America with cameras! By the end of the class, Dan had each kid taking 5-second videos of themselves, showing them how to properly frame their faces in a medium shot and speak loudly into the camera. The whole class giggled and cheered as the camera was plugged into a projector and they saw their work up on the wall. We will have more on this (and higher quality photos!) as our classes get more in depth in the coming days.

Thanks for bearing with this long inaugural post from Kenya. We will work on more frequent updates, and hopefully some video soon. We hope we can do some small justice to the beauty of this place and the unbelievable sense of welcoming we've received!

Tutoanana!

 

3 comments

  1. C.C.
    May 20, 2010

    I didn't know about the Flip Cameras! That's incredible. I just have a feeling like an onion so much will be revealed when I read this blog, or when you return…just how much you are really doing over there.

    What a beginning…can't wait to hear more.
    xoxo C.C.

  2. Bruce
    May 20, 2010

    so amazing…

  3. Ape
    June 1, 2010

    I am so proud of the two of you – and thanks for keeping us all posted on your travels. See you in a couple of weeks.

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