The following post comes from Willis Adika Adeya, Chairman of Kariobangi Mirror in Nairobi, Kenya. Kariobangi Mirror is a community based organization providing platforms for citizen journalists, artists, and activists a space to nurture and maximize their potentials and amplify their voices.
Several months ago, filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer contacted me about screening Peace in Our Pockets to support our work here at Kariobangi Mirror. Much of the film was shot in our communities here in Kariobangi and neighboring informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenny wanted the film to screen in communities featured in the film.
Under mtaani initiative, a series of screenings and community dialogues dubbed the “Documentary Slum Tour”, is gaining momentum on the ground following three successful screenings in Kariobangi, Mathare North and Mathare No 10. Each event included post-screening dialogue that led to heated debate and discussion. We have used the film as a tool to create social and political awareness in slum communities, explore how technology and mobile phones can promote peace, and help us achieve our social change goals.
When we started organizing screenings, we encountered challenges on the ground, including mobilization, gender inclusivity, and ignorance of the people when it comes to getting information and sharing their thoughts freely on issues affecting them in their daily lives. But our patience and perseverance helped us convince many about the need to participate in community building and address such issues as governance, technology and peace, and elections.
Peace In Our Pockets screenings have been vital in our peace building work. Previously we only met with small audiences through weekly debates dubbed Tufanye Change (Swahili for “let`s do the change”). The debates allow people to gather to learn and share about their contributions in civic building work. With the slum tour, we have expanded our work into different areas in Nairobi and reached larger numbers of people. Most of the attendees come with the curiosity of viewing the documentary to learn how mobile phones can be used positively to contribute to peaceful elections, good governance, and civic education. The film asks viewers to think about new ways of using SMS for social good and also shows a very positive example of leaders organizing in their communities.
Our first screenings have also enabled us to reach new community groups. We invite different youth groups from the areas to participate and include them in our planning and preparation. They play a vital role in mobilization, security, awareness, and sensitization of the importance of watching the film and being part of the discussion and actions following the screening. The events have expanded our network of organizations and people from different slums who are also engaged in other social work.
As shown in the film, it is important for us to build coalitions and seek out partners working in areas of peace and development. When we toured in Mathare North, the youth group Reformist, Kwetu crime sio poa organization helped us a lot in ensuring the success of the event. They used the screening to sensitize the audience about the need of having a society free from crime and violence, a focus of their work. Other partners have included artists whereby we combine screenings with Creative Café, a group of young talented artists from Kariobangi and Korogocho. These artists used the platform to showcase their talents before the screening and following discussion. And in Mathare #10, we invited garbage collection groups to participate and they were pleased to be part of the initiative.
We are happy to be associated with Peace in Our Pockets. It is a great initiative and we are making future plans to expand our partnerships to help us realize our goals of reaching all of Nairobi and even expanding across Kenya. Mtaani initiative is unique and attracts the attention of many people because there are few organizations using film as a tool to inspire improvement in our communities. We are confident that we can reach a wider audience and hope to include secondary schools and colleges in future screenings. Youth should be a focus of our outreach.
Finally, we appeal to peace lovers, donors, and other stakeholders to support this project and our desire to organize future screening through partnership, financial support, and any form of support. Your contributions will help us realize our objectives which is using the power of film to bring social change in our society and to raise awareness about the peace potential of technology here in Kenya and throughout the world.