Documentary Filmmaking, News, Production Trips to Kenya

Week 1: Meeting Neelam and Mark

I’ve been settling in to Nairobi life and a big time change, setting my schedule, and meeting with folks to plan for the coming weeks. The daily papers are filled with pre-election stories – post-debate analysis, Presidential running-mates debate, ICC related rulings and motions and pre-trial happenings, and regional and local political wranglings. It was good to meet up with Dan Adeli to review our shot list and production notes and to get updates on Sisi Ni Amani’s plans (as best they know now) for the next three weeks. Since I arrived, I’ve seen a significant change in the pace and nature of Sisi Ni Amani’s work as more of their focus has shifted to pre-election monitoring and election preparedness.

I want to introduce a couple of Kenyans I met this week. Both have come in to support Sisi Ni Amani’s work in recent months. Both bring diverse talents and insight to their work.

Neelam and Coordinating Peace Messages

The first is Neelam Verjee, the new Programs Coordinator for Sisi Ni Amani, who I met mid-week at the office with Rachel Brown, Sisi Ni Amani’s CEO and founder. Neelam joined the team at the end of 2012 after Jackie Njeru left for Italy to continue her law studies. One of Neelam’s new responsibilities is to  speak with the Sisi Ni Amani’s Coordinators twice a week to monitor the climate and social/political pulse in the communities. I’ll be spending time with Neelam on several of these calls during this trip. The short short clip below gives a feel for her work and the important grassroots monitoring efforts that are likely to grow more intense in coming days. In the clip, Neelam gets an update from Mary Njambi by phone. Mary shares information from her conversations with contacts in Dandora. She recommends to Neelam that a peace message be sent out the following day.

Mark and Sisi Ni Amani’s Website

The second individual I’d like to introduce is Mark Kamau, a multi-media designer. I met Mark this week at iHub UX Lab in Nairobi (part of iHub). He has been working with Rachel Brown to redesign Sisi Ni Amani s website, making it more user friendly and integrating it with social media. In addition to having one of the coolest cell phone cases I’ve seen in a long while, Mark’s personal journey from the Mathare slums to talented web designer, media artist and teacher is inspiring. Mark tells a bit of his story in the excerpt below.