Workshop – Rongo University

At the beginning of the second week we travelled to Rongo ( one looong bus ride ) but when we finally arrived we were kindly welcomed and introduced to the university staff. Before I start I have to say that Rongo University were great hosts feeding us literally every two hours. Thank you, that was appreciated.

Day 1

On the first day we got introduced to the students we were going to work with. After the first workshop in Kenyatta University, we were feeling much more confident and relaxed. We started with a casual chat about our own experience with photography trying to get to know each other. After that we went out and started practicing with the cameras because nothing is as helpful as ‘hands on’ experience. We wanted to teach them but we also wanted them to have fun so we were using each other as models jumping around, playing football, etc. This time our group was smaller so it was easier to work with; we also had Fred who is extremely talented and was of great help. We had to decide as a group on a theme for the next day’s shoot. We knew we were visiting a local school where children from the Luo tribe were going to sing and dance for us. Performing is an important act for the tribe as it is a way of preserving their culture and traditions. We thought it would be a good idea to practice portraiture to be prepared for the next day. After that we decided on an additional theme. The students took us to a local gold mine where we were able to follow the process of digging, to washing the gold. We wanted to focus on the question of fair trade and exploitation of the workers there. In order to express that in the best way possible, we decided to create a digital story. After we got back, the guys from the video group filmed Boyana and Spencer talking about their experience and thoughts on the gold mine. We were full of ideas for both themes and were excited to go to the school on the following day.

Day 2

When we arrived at the school, everyone was excited and curious to see us. It was an absolute pleasure to watch the dances. Firstly, we watched the girls performing then the boys sang and danced for us. It was really really interesting and I believe we all really enjoyed it. The students took some incredible photos. Later on, we photographed some of the performers individually practicing portraiture. We were playing around with some of the younger pupils; they loved sticking their faces on the cameras.  We ended up with a lot of really good photos we could use for the final project. After lunch, we decided to start sorting out all the images and pick up the best ones. Again, that was a really long and difficult process. Luckily, by the end of the day we had a collection of photos for both themes. We further discussed how we wanted to structure our digital story and had a clear idea of what we needed to do on the next day.

Day 3

Of course we were wrong. There was a power cut on the next day so we could use our laptops only for a limited time. The day started with a basic Photoshop session. The students edited some of the images we were going to use. Then we manage to finish the Luo tribe presentation. We arranged the photographs in a particular order, put one of the songs the boys at the school were singing as a soundtrack, added some text to give a little bit more information about the tribe. However, we could not create the digital story for the gold mine as we wanted it. We had no time to add text or voice over as we initially planned. I think the images themselves were very strong , we put on music as a soundtrack which made the presentation even more influential but the project would have contributed greatly if we had had the time to add a voice over or at least some text explaining more about the process. At the end of the day, we were ready to present despite the technical issues we all had. I think we all did a great job considering the time and the obstacles. At the end of the day we were taking selfies, exchanging emails and facebooks. It was quite sad because we were leaving Rongo but we also started to realise that we were leaving Kenya pretty soon.

Stories of our cities

On Sunday we went to a place called Ruaraka in the outskirts of Nairobi. I do not think any of us was prepared for it. Ruaraka is a very poor area of dense slums. We held our photography street exhibition Stories of Our Cities there. At first people mainly children started gathering around us looking at the photographs with curiosity. However, at some point we were surrounded by adults asking us for money and telling us how hungry they are. They were wondering how exactly we were helping them with that exhibition. Later on we discussed that maybe that particular area was not the best place to hold an exhibition of the sort. By the end of it we felt very uncomfortable being there. We got to meet Fred, Eric and Victor who invited us to take part of the exhibition. They were very kind and helpful and did some amazing work for organising the whole thing. During the day I became a temporal member of the audio group and helped the guys to record a few interviews. I also made two new friends. Two little incredibly cute girls insisted on holding my hands the whole time.

Unfortunately, we did not get to attend the second part of the exhibition which consisted of us reflecting on our experience. We will probably do it at some point in the future through a Skype conversation.

Chapatti Day

Today we visited the Focus Initiative at Ruiru. The Focus Initiative is a daytime orphanage/youth centre where children can stay over the day, study and interact with other children. The moment we arrived, one of the girls came straight to me and asked me to be her friend. Her name was Evelyn and we are now friends forever. We made Chapatti ( I am basically a chapatti chef now ), played games with the kids and had a look around. The children were absolutely fascinated with our cameras and mobile phones, they were running around taking selfies and filming each other. Most of us ( not only the girls ) ended up with plaits in their hairs. We also played Kenyan ice breaker games in the garden, we were all in a circle clapping our hands … for some reason ( I really did not get that ) but everyone was laughing so it was quite entertaining. Later in the afternoon around 3pm we had lunch…Kenyan lunch time, we ate all the chapatti we cooked earlier in the day and they were incredible! After lunch we had a meeting with media students from Zetech University discussing the similarities and differences between our courses.

As a whole we spent the day playing with the kids, sunbathing and meeting some really nice students. It was a bit sad to meet all those children and see the conditions they were living in but the smiles on their faces and the curiosity they were full of made me as happy as they were.

Workshop – Kenyatta University

Our first stop was Kenyatta University, the second biggest university in Kenya. What a campus..oh mah god! Massive campus, big gardens and relax areas, a cinema (!), playgrounds and what not. Spencer, Boyana, Anneeka and I were responsible for the photography workshop. Even though we briefly run through it on the previous day, we were quite nervous what to expect.

Day 1

After being fashionably late, representatives from Kenyatta University welcomed us with a little opening ceremony. We got introduced to the students who we were going to work with, we met a few lectures and the head of the department of Film and Theatre. After the speeches finished, we were split into groups and started our workshop. As the most important part of what we do is to share knowledge and experience, we did not want to make them feel like we are there to teach them. We wanted to make everyone feel comfortable and confident and to share what they know and what they are good at with the others. We sat in a circle and everyone introduced themselves explaining why they’d chosen the photography workshop. Then we continued with introducing the basic functions of the camera and tripod. When we got to know their level of knowledge it was easier for us to lead the workshop. We were worried that we would either bore them to death or we would bombard them with tons of information. It was a nice sunny day ( get over yourself, England! ) so we spent some time outside talking about ISO, aperture, shutter speed while experimenting with the cameras. I believe everyone enjoyed themselves, we were really lucky to work with these particular students, all of them were really passionate about photography and eager to learn. After the lunch break, we talked about the upcoming trip to Ngong on the next day and our topic for the shoot. We had a few very good ideas but we decided to do Faces of the Community and focus on portraiture. We set a task for everyone to go outside and take portraits so they can start thinking about setting, background, lighting, positioning the subject, etc. At the end of the day we ended up with some amazing photographs and everyone was pleased themselves. One of the students came to me and told me that she was a bit worried at first but we did a great job and she had an amazing time. It made me so happy : )

Day 2

The second day we went to the Kenyatta University in the morning. We decided to walk around the campus and take some more portraits so everyone can feel confident for the trip to Ngong. Since we had the best group and the best workshop, we spent the morning watching a group of boys dancing to a contemporary Kenyan gospel ( amazing song, still trying to find it ) at the playground. We took some great photos that ended up in our final presentation.

In the afternoon we travelled to Ngong. Our first stop was at the police station where the governed welcomed us, then we head to the Community Media centre where we met Professor Walla. Our final stop was the Ngong Township School. The groups were split into two. Some of us went to speak to the teachers, my group was sent to the Faraja Orphanage. I was not prepared for that and got extremely upset at first. However, seeing the happy smiles on these kids’ faces made me realise that money means nothing and one needs only so little to be happy. We ended the day at the Ngong hills watching the sunset. An absolutely incredible view. One of those that you never forget. I think that has been one of the best days so far.

Day 3

The last day of the workshop was a bit hectic and stressful. We all had to finish our projects and present them in front of everyone at the end of the day. Honestly, we as photographers were lucky because we did not have to focus so much on the editing process. We had a short Photoshop session, then we picked up 40 images out of 2786 ( don’t ask us how ), arranged them and decided to present them while playing a traditional Kenyan song. All groups presented their work, everyone did a great job for the short period of time we had. We all were a bit sad to leave but thankful for the great experience and the new friends we made.

Day 1 – Nairobi

We finally arrived in Nairobi after a looong flight, some nice food and a few Tetris games. We were accommodated at our hostel and were more than happy to finally have a rest..on the ground. The first day of our Kenyan journey was very chilled. We had a walk around the hostel, had a look around, had a nice meal at the local mall. In the afternoon we got introduced to Willice. First we talked through our workshops, discussed the programme for the following days and decided on the kits. We all were very excited to meet Kenyatta University’s students.