Celebrating Film for Good

The auditorium at Catholic University of Eastern Africa on June 11, 2016, was filled with more than 150 senior students, recent graduates and alums from St. Aloysius Secondary School in Nairobi, and faculty and students from Catholic University of Eastern Africa(CUEA) and from Tangaza University College. This enthusiastic crowd came together on this day to celebrate films made by the participants in the Film for Good program. This initiative is part of the Loyola University Chicago School of Communication (SOC) Africa Project in collaboration with CUEA. Africa Circle of Hope Foundation is one of the major sponsors of Film for Good. The coordinator for the 2016 SOC Africa Project is Dr. Patricia Felkins, Co-Founder and Vice President of Africa Circle of Hope.

This day of celebration, culminating the two-week workshop, included a panel of media professionals sharing their work experience and career resources in the morning session. In the afternoon the films made in the workshop were screened followed by a discussion with the young filmmakers and presentation of certificates to those who completed the media training.

The two-week workshop provided an opportunity for graduates from St. Aloysius interested in media careers to learn about scriptwriting, film production and editing. After the classroom training, the teams went into the Kibera slums to film their stories. Aaron Greer, Director of the Film and Digital Media Program at Loyola University Chicago, was the workshop leader. Jamason Chen, SOC Media Manager provided technology support and set up a media production lab for CUEA. The Film for Good workshop participants were the first to use this new lab. Professional video cameras and computers with editing software were donated to CUEA by Loyola University Chicago and the School of Communication.

The objectives of Film for Good point toward continuing educational development, establishing practical media applications and increasing available resources.

  • To teach basic filmmaking skills and give young people experience as part of a production team to make a short film that reflects their experience, creative ideas or perspectives on social justice issues.
  • To promote film as a platform for communication and development, a stage for creative expression, and a powerful educational resource for students, faculty and community.
  • To build relationships and develop opportunities for continuing collaboration and communication between faculty and students in Kenya and U.S.
  • To develop a support network with online resources, media facilities and mentoring to help students and recent graduates practice communication and media skills, explore available career opportunities and find jobs.

Film for Good 2016 created a strong foundation for accomplishing these objectives. Each of the four teams from the workshop made informative and engaging short films dealing with a specific theme: gambling and betting, innovation and entrepreneurship, girl child empowerment, and youth unemployment. These films were applauded by the audience and will be entered in several film festivals in the coming months.

Another highlight of the event was the powerful presentations by young Kenyan poets coordinated by Kennet B, who has worked with Africa Circle of Hope poetry workshops in the Nairobi slums. These performances also inspired Chris O`Hare, an international filmmaker and moderator of the professional career panel, to use some of the workshop participants to produce a film featuring five of the poets in the days following the workshop. Other films in planning stages include a multidisciplinary faculty/student group focusing on collaborative efforts to clean up the polluted Nairobi River.

The team of 16 young people who were trained in the workshop want to establish a nonprofit or community-based organization to continue working together on creative film productions. They will also be available to help faculty at CUEA as crew members for making educational films.

Film for Good was a genuine success on many levels. Catholic University of Eastern Africa now has a professional media production lab that will be available to students, faculty and community members. Key support staff have training in using the equipment and software. Other films are in production or planning. Workshop participants and other students and graduates now have a support network that includes the professionals on the career panel who offered to provide mentoring and career resources. CUEA faculty in E-Learning, Development Studies, Justice and Peace, Literature, and Entrepreneurship are ready to explore the opportunities that the film training and the media production lab create for them and their students. Film for Good continues to generate creative work and innovative educational projects. Africa Circle of Hope is proud to support this unique collaborative educational initiative.

Thiiri Center for Culture, Music and Community Development

Thiiri (meaning "peace" in the Meru language) Center for Culture, Music and Community Development was established to serve local people as a shared resource for education, culture, and economic development. Thiiri Center, which has classrooms and meeting space, is the site of our Community Technology Center (CTC). We are partnering with Thiiri Center to establish the first CTC in this rural area and to provide computer training and access to Meru women`s entrepreneurship groups and young people to support social and economic development. Many of the women`s entrepreneurship groups also meet regularly at Thiiri Center. Thiiri Center is uniquely designed to meet community needs.

Feeding Hungry Kids

Young students need adequate nutrition in order to learn effectively. Raymond Mosha, ACOHF Board Member from Tanzania, facilitated the construction of a small kitchen building for the Kyou Primary School in Kilema near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Africa Circle of Hope Foundation helped to fund this project, which will allow the cook to efficiently prepare lunch for the 500 children in this school. This may be the only meal some of these children have each day.

The kitchen building provides a clean space where meals can be cooked and kitchen materials and food supplies safely stored. Dr. Mosha worked with teachers and school and community leaders to coordinate this project. The next improvement needed is a more efficient brick stove.

Women's Agricultural Development Progam in Kenya

The current food shortage in Kenya makes this program even more critical to nutrition and health in this rural area, where most people are living in poverty. Three women's groups in Meru are part of the initial program. ACOHF provides funds for seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide, hose pipes, sprinklers and basic agricultural training for the women.

One entrepreneurship group decided to plant bananas as their main crop. Other groups include widows and single mothers planting a variety of vegetables in one or two-acre plots. This will not only give them more nutritious food for their family but also generate some small income.

All the women are encouraged by this program and want to learn more about nutrition entrepreneurship opportunities with food processing. These initial groups should be self-sustaining within a year.

Nairobi Board Member Coordinates ACOHF Educational Programs

Charles Mwiti, an experienced business executive and ACOHF board member is coordinating our Education Program in Kenya. He has created a more detailed record system to ensure continuing accountability and appropriate use of funds. This system documents the progress of each individual student. Mr. Mwiti is also communicating with a social worker from Good Samaritan, who is monitoring the students and making regular school visits. Mwiti has done an outstanding job with his caring and commitment in keeping our educational program effective and accountable to students and donors.

In November 2010 Dr. Felkins joined Mwiti in a visit to Gathiga Secondary Boarding School, where ACOHF sponsors 15 students. This is one of five different schools where we support students. Our board members met with the Principal and toured the school buildings and grounds. Mwiti made a brief presentation to the students encouraging them to study and make the most of their education. He and Felkins congratulated the students on their academic accomplishments. The Principal indicated that some of these Mathare students were among the best in the entire school. One of the Good Samaritan boys was recognized for his outstanding leadership and service. Students have classes six days a week. Three of the students are completing Form 4 and will be graduating soon. The ACOHF board plans to increase the total number of students in our Orphans Education program next year.

Community Technology Center Established in Rural Tanzania

The new Maua Community Technology Center is the only one of its kind in this rugged area on the slopes on Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The facility will be managed by the Franciscan Sisters Capuchin to serve area schools and surrounding communities. The CTC is located in a building just inside their front gate. Benjamin Makai, East Africa Programme Officer for Computer Aid International, helped to set up the equipment and train the staff, which will be coordinating the use of the CTC and facilitating learning sessions. The CTC has an N-computing system with eight work stations. The facility is funded by a grant, which covers equipment, training and technical consultation for the first year.

View photos of the installation and dedication of the CTC in Tanzania.

Computer Training for Education and Business Applications

Microsoft consultants from Seattle and New York presented technology training sessions at Thiiri Center. These included Basic Computer Skills for Women`s Entrepreneurship (June 29-30, 2007) and Business and Educational Applications of Technology (July 2-3, 2007).

Local small business owners, teachers and school administrators, and members of women`s entrepreneurship groups attended the sessions, which included basic instruction and hands-on practice with computers in the center. Some had never used a computer before this, but everyone was enthusiastic and committed to learning. Practical business and educational applications were included in the advanced sessions.

Our special thanks to Iris Lemmer, James Lemmer and Craig Phillips for volunteering to share their experience and knowledge in dynamic presentations and collaboration with these groups.

Makena Textile Workshop

This women’s cooperative workshop was started in 1979 in rural Meru, Kenya, when 50 local women started an initiative to generate income to support their family and to improve the local economy in this poor rural area. Some volunteers from Norway helped the women learn how to spin, and make wool rugs with local wool and natural dyes. Later the women also begin creating tie-dyed fabrics for clothing and other items. Today there are 19 women in the group and they have invested their meager income into buying two of the warehouse sheds where they have been working. They are the only business left in what was intended to be a small enterprise zone. The women are struggling to sell their colorful handmade wool rugs.

The Makena Textile Workshop is receiving support for business, leadership and entrepreneurship training, equipment repair, improved operations management, communication and strategic marketing. The women participated in entrepreneurship training and basic computer training in June and July 2007. Their deteriorated boilers have been replaced and dyeing production has resumed. They now have ongoing mentoring from local business leaders. After this training and support their sales have already increased with more strategic planning and marketing to targeted groups. We are continuing to work with Makena in all these areas and expand this training to other women’s entrepreneurship groups in the area.

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