Karibu from Busia! My name is Sofia Mussa and I will be joining the Maria’s Libraries team in Busia, Kenya for the next 5 months. I will be managing some of ML’s field work, including capacity building and research. One of the programs I will be working on involves organizing weekly movie screenings for the local street children at the Busia Community Library. The program aims to familiarize the children with the library by inviting them to watch a movie once a week, providing bananas and water. Ultimately, the goal is for the children to view the library as a safe space and to feel comfortable coming by at any time.
Planning a movie screening for the local street children proved a bit more challenging then expected. Luckily, I’m working with amazing people. One of the amazing folks I’m working with is Carol from Survivors, a local community based organization that works with sex workers. Carol has been instrumental in doing outreach with the children. Even the infamous Busia rain couldn’t stop her. We had originally scheduled a film screening for Thursday at 3pm, so naturally it started raining at 2:45pm. We lost power shortly after. Despite the odds, Carol brought 8 kids to the library. They rushed into the library, clearly excited to explore. At the same time they seemed unsure of what to expect. Esther, the head librarian and Vincent, one of the library volunteers, provided a wonderful introduction to the library. For most of the kids, this was not their first time in a library. Some had been to their school libraries; others visited a library in a nearby Church. Out of eight children, one had accessed a computer before. And they were more than eager to learn about the computers. One child asked Esther if work opportunities would be available at the library, if he eventually learned how to use the computer. After this visit, I got the sense that some of the kids were already thinking about how to best utilize the library. On one hand, there is the element of fun in watching films that draws the kids in. On the other, there are the potential benefits that a library could bring them.
We invited the children back the next day to watch Madagascar. 12 kids came in Friday as opposed to 8 the day before. Word had already spread. Initially, Madagascar was a big hit. The kids couldn’t get enough of the penguins and lemurs. Admittedly, I couldn’t enough as well. After 45 minutes or so their attention started to wane. We finished the movie in its entirety and got some good feedback. When asked about what they’d like to see, Kung Fu and Christian films were popular answers. Films in Swahili were another suggestion from the kids.
Carol and I were thinking of shortening the sessions and mixing things up a bit. It would be great to bring in some shorter films, in both Swahili and English. And perhaps start with an introduction to computers and transition to movies or books next time. It is clear that the movie screenings will evolve over time, which makes it all the more exciting. All in all, it was a pretty successful event. I’m looking forward to our next session!