I recently had a conversation with a Kenyan man (who will remain unnamed). He was surprised at what Barbara and I have been doing here and seemed very negative about the project in general. He felt that the skills and knowledge we are sharing with young people living in the slums will be wasted on them, and that instead we should be working solely with students in schools. Unfortunately he is not the first person I have met who has voiced opposition to this project. What is the point, can they even be taught, they ask. Is it safe to work with them?
The whole purpose of Digital Storytelling is to give a voice to the voiceless. Who could be better served by such a project than those who are completely marginalized by their society? The young people we are working with are smart and kind, and under different circumstances they would be living very different lives. They are doing the best they can with the few resources they have, and instead of turning to crime and violence they are trying to express themselves and better themselves through the work that they do and now through their blogs.
That being said, training people who have never used a computer before can be tricky. Imagine using a touchpad on a laptop for the very first time. For those of us who use computers regularly knowing when to click once versus when to double-click has become an instinct; once upon a time we had to learn even that. The training sessions have their ups and downs; if a student accidentally navigates away from the page he/she was using it usually leads to an unnecessary “sorry sorry sorry!” But we are able to laugh together and work through it. They are eager to learn and their curiosity helps them learn quickly.
Here are all seven blogs that have been started so far. Most of them have multiple posts now. If you can, please leave these guys some feedback. They are sharing their lives with the world so that the lives of all youth living in the streets and in slums can be better understood.
Martin Tete: http://martintetemutiso.wordpress.com/
Martin and Joseph, the young men who are helping us train the students, have also been updating their blogs:
Posted By Alixa Sharkey
Posted Aug 10th, 2009