Today I started a photo storytelling workshop for street kids, hosted at Child Restoration Outreach. There were 7 boys and 1 girl. Apparently more girls will be joining tomorrow. It was really a great time. The kids were amazingly attentive. Harriette, the CRO educator, translated for me into the Luo language because only two of the kids understood English well. Most of these kids haven’t finished much schooling, and since they are living on the streets, their education isn’t up to par. English is something that kids learn in school – in fact I believe most schools teach in English (although there are some plans to incorporate the local language more). Lydia, the one girl who was in attendence today, is truly amazing. Yesterday I filmed her as we were mobilizing street kids in the community to participate in this workshop. She was talking about life on the streets, street children in general, and how the staff at CRO want to encourage them. She is a very dynamic speaker.
Have you ever met a person, and you know right away that they have the potential to change or touch the world in a special way? Well – this is Lydia. She is 16 and has seen so many crazy things in her life. She will be putting it into a photo & audio story to share – most likely on this blog! – so I will not divulge now. But I could never even imagine being in her shoes. Songs are written about people like this… Presidents want to meet kids like this… and people like Oprah Winfrey want to interview them. In fact, I asked Lydia yesterday if she knew about Oprah, and she did know a little. The reason I asked is because Lydia said that she enjoyed doing talk shows. Sometimes CRO organizes the radio shows to educate the public here about the life of street kids, and Lydia has participated in these radio shows and really enjoyed it. Lydia has a nack for speaking…and she has been given a lot of confidence from the staff at CRO. She said that she used to be so shy, and not want to speak at all. When I get a chance to edit some of the video – you will see what I mean. She has many stories to tell. In fact, I wish she could write them all down for me…but she doesn’t know how to read and write! I see her succeeding though.. and learning. I know she can do it…I have faith in her. The only reason that she cannot read and write yet is because she has not been given the tools to do so.
I talked to Harriett today about whether CRO could find it in their budget to hire a tutor to work with Lydia and the other kids in her situation, who have not been resettled into homes yet. Normally CRO starts the scholarship process, reintegrating the kids back into school and paying the fees, after the kid has been resettled back into their homes. With Lydia – she tried to resettle with her sisters – but the situation is very bad. (Again, I don’t want to give away her story). So, now she is staying with one of the staff members until she can live on her own in a stable environment. This girl is hard to say no to, so I can see how the staff would have taken her in. She has finished tailoring school, which CRO did pay for. But I tried to explain that even without being able to read – that Lydia will find it to be a very difficult life. Harriett will talk to the other staff about whether they can hire a tutor/ home school teacher to come to CRO directly to work with the street kids who are not resettled, but who need to learn to read and write. CRO does some teaching there at CRO for all kids (resettled and street kids), but it is more on general topics – and not reading and writing.
Back to the workshop – today the kids learned about a story arc and how to use the disposable camera that they will be taking their photos with. I also taught them what the internet was. One kid didn’t know what the internet or an email was. So, I explained these things, and used my modem (an internet stick) to look up the CRO website (www.croug.org) and my own personal blog to show them how anyone can have a website and share their stories with the world. And that if they want to, that they can share their stories on my blog. I showed them the King of the Fill post, and they recognized some of the kids from the photographs at the dump (I warned them that they would probably recognize some people). They were all pretty excited. Then we discussed some different styles of photography, composure, and how to shoot wide, medium, and tight.
Well, I will sign off for now. But I am looking forward to collecting their cameras tomorrow and drafting out their story boards with them. And of course, I look forward to featuring their stories.