Day 9 Fieldwork and more community asset mapping refinements

I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying this trip despite feeling a bit drained from Wednesday’s samozagate incident. There are always things that crop up and barriers but that is community work. I just really feel like we are making progress. A range of things seem to be falling into place which I can’t make public yet as they are not confirmed just indications that they will be confirmed.

On Wednesday I started to develop the community asset map. Reflecting on this process made me realise that we were capturing content about/relating to the physical assets and not enough about the people – especially in the photographs. So before we set off I spoke to the students and asked them to try and strike a balance and capture more ‘community life’ in their work. A note on the map – I am currently using Google’s My Maps and will continue to do so for now but when I get home I am going to seek out a map app with more flexibility in the content functionality. My Maps is limiting the visual experience of some of the fantastic pictures the team have taken.

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We set off for the 7th Day Adventist Church at Osiata. Visually it is just a largish wooden building with a corrugated iron roof and the inside has been fashioned into a traditional church with whatever materials are to hand. However, the place came to life a bit when some Church Elders (women) came over and gave us an interview. Mac was back with us and translating between Luo, Kiswahili and English. The interview jumped around a bit in both the questions and the languages but the latter adds authenticity (imho) and the former can be edited. There was a storm very close by and the rains threatened but really on dribbled on us. As the road was very narrow we had parked the bus and walked to the church (this was to be the story of the morning) but this was a pleasure as it allowed us to walk through a countryside otherwise denied us on the bus. All in all a lovely experience although one or two of the party were less pleased when we had to do the same again at our next stop but with an added twist.

Lang’o Arek Mixed Secondary School sits at the top of Okumba Hill. We left the bus at a point circa 0.5K from the main road and made our way along a bridle path. This path widens to the right at a crossway which leads up to the school. Looking for all the world as if the Romans had laid a 30 or so metre stretch of cobbles the hill then steepens sharply and some started to lag. I turned back to encourage Isabel, Fiona and Halima who were feeling the pace. The walk up is definitely worth it though as there is a breath-taking 360⁰ panorama of Nyanza and Kisii. The Head was busy with other visitors but he arranged for teachers to show us around and do the interviews. This process was now running quite smoothly and we were away with what we wanted within the hour.

The walk down was pleasurable although back at the bus we couldn’t make it out fully boarded so we alighted and got back aboard once Baituk had us clear of the rather tricky ditch. I have to say he is a great driver and has worked so hard for us during this trip.

Our final call of the day was a revisit to Cham gi Wadu. It was market day and nothing brings a place alive like a local market. I asked Hafsah to retake the shots of the shops as the previous ones made the shopping centre look like a ghost town. I got Mac to accompany her so he could ask the shopkeepers permission and explain what it was for in Luo. She produced much better shots. However, it is the market that is the hub of this community. Located off a side street behind the shops we had to work fast because the storm that had held off was about to break. There was some reluctance to be photographed to start with but some of the local students got people to agree and before we knew it we had captured the essence of the market.

A crowd had gathered on a nearby street corner where Halima, Fiona, Lydia & Charloth – our audio group were interviewing a local man. Word started to spread and people gathered and as the locals started to hear of the possibility of a radio station for them, by them and in their community people were becoming excited. It was heartening to see my Kenyan CM4K students of 3 to 4 years standing doing so well. Aron came over with his video cam and started filming and the crowd grew larger with the steering group members also chatting to people on the street nearby. Just then a massive dust storm introduced itself by blowing up the street. Those out in it (like me) got covered in the fine red silt particles of the locality. The rains weren’t far off and it was time to go but the word is out in Cham gi Wadu and I look forward to hearing the audio capture and watching the video footage collected here but even more, I look forward to enabling community radio in Cham gi Wadu. We are making progress without a doubt!

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