Posts Tagged ‘citizen journalism’

It is a chilly Tuesday evening in Liphakoeng – a community perched on a hillside above the industrial zone of Ha Thetsane in Maseru. People are just getting home: many of them are workers in the nearby textile factories, and it is a long walk up the steep tar road before they turn onto the dirt paths that lead to their homes.

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Crowd watching Siyakhona’s “Fresh Cut,”community magazine show

On this workday evening, however, something unusual is happening in this community. On a small, rocky patch of ground underneath a tree and beside a small food stall selling fruits and snacks, a giant blow-up screen has been set up. Music is pumping from speakers and as it gets dark, people are beginning to curiously gather around the noise and lights.

This is the first of a series of screenings that the Siyakhona Media Studio @ Kick4Life is holding in communities in and around Maseru. It has now been seven months since the team of eight began their intensive training in filmmaking and citizen journalism. This evening, they are screening Fresh Cut – their first “magazine show” – which includes a series of short five-minute films that profile a variety of local personalities, topics and current affairs.

The central piece of the show, however, is a sixteen-minute call-to-action film called The Darkest Hour, which explores the lack of access to clean water that many communities in Maseru continue to face.

“Siyakhona works with communities to find out what burning issues they are facing. We went out and spoke to people and we found out that one of the most urgent issues they face is access to safe drinking water,” explains Malefu Taoana, of the Siyakhona crew members.

“We visited Tšenola Lepereng, a community in Maseru where many people struggle to get safe drinking water. We worked with one of the villagers there – an elderly lady who sometimes has to wake up at 2am to go and fetch water with her grandchildren, and even then sometimes finds that there is a queue of people waiting at the well. We spent the whole day with her filming her story, following her through the day and seeing for ourselves how much she struggles to get water.”

“Affordable water and sanitation is a human right, and we are trying to make sure that people have access to this,” says Malefu. “Lesotho sells water to other countries, but so many Basotho people don’t have water themselves.”

On this Tuesday in Liphakoeng, many of the people who are walking past the screening are carrying buckets of water on their heads. This too is a community where access to water is a daily struggle for most residents. In the growing dark, more and more people gather as, one after the next, the Fresh Cut films are played. The Darkest Hour is screened last, and by this time there is a sizeable group of people standing around – their interest sparked by what is clearly an issue that is relevant to their lives.

At the end of the screening, the Siyakhona crew invites members of the audience to come up and express their opinions about the topic. People come up one by one, with little hesitation, and speak firmly, sometimes angrily, into the microphone. They narrate the frustrations, the string of promises made and broken by politicians and officials, and the need for members of the community to speak out and take action.

“We have been getting positive reactions to the screenings from people,” says Malefu. “A woman I spoke to at one of the screenings told me that it makes her happy to see that there are people who care for them. People in her community have been complaining about water for a long time, but they haven’t been heard. She believes that Siyakhona will bring change into their lives.”

“We are working with the Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) to collect 10,000 signatures for a petition that will be handed to the government. We are also trying to inspire communities to work together to find short-term solutions, such as finding ways to protect a local well from livestock, or getting a cooperative together to buy a water pump.”

“We are trying to reach as many communities as we can, and at the moment are doing three screenings a week. We’ve partnered with Sesotho Media and Development, and will soon be moving to communities outside of Maseru. We’ve collected 606 signatures so far, and we’ll keep going until we reach the goal of 10,000.”

Written by: Leila Hall

The Hillside Digital Trust is proud to announce that it has been awarded a grant of £10,074.92 from the Indigo Trust in support of the Hillside Digital Trust’s implementation of Sony and FIFA’s Siyakhona Media Studio at the Kick4Life Football for Hope centre in Maseru, Lesotho. The much needed funding will enable the participants to benefit from a further three months of intensive training by providing salary costs, travel, Internet and administration.Image

 Siyakhona (We can do it) is a project that identifies youth, both men and women, from varied and under-privileged backgrounds and provides them with the skills and confidence to be the voice of their community. The hands on and practical training in human rights, journalistic skills and ethics, digital film production, community engagement and creative thinking will empower 8 young leaders to inspire active community participation in bringing about social change through their call to action films. The group are training hard to become citizen video journalists and human rights activists, investigating the views and experiences of those whose voice is less often heard in Lesotho, including young people’s views on HIV and AIDS.

“We are delighted with the support and faith the trustees of The Indigo Trust has placed in us and Siyakhona. The grant will go a long way toward ensuring the success and sustainability of the Siyakhona Media Studio in Lesotho,” said Danny Lurie, founder and Director of The Hillside Digital Trust.

The trainees recently completed their first cycle of training that culminated with the launch of the Siyakhona Media Studio to the public at the Football for Hope Centre in Maseru. Students screened their first films to an impressed and delighted audience.

In the next few weeks the video journalists will use their training to engage their community to discover their burning social issues. With the community’s support Siyakhona will seek to understand the problem, its root causes and together they will find creative solutions to implement. Siyakhona will produce a magazine show highlighting the issue and their call to action, and screen it all over the community to rally support and mobilization.

Rather than me telling you how the project is continuing with the support of the Indigo Trust and the project’s headline sponsors, I recommend you read about it from the video journalists themselves at www.siyakhonak4l.blogspot.com

“Morning everyone. My name is Danny and this is Herbert. Welcome to the Siyakhona training program. I am from the Hillside Digital Trust, a not for profit organization that trains young people like yourselves in human rights based participatory video journalism and community activism. Herbert is one of the first guys we trained in Alexandra Township in the first Siyakhona project. For the next 3 months we’re going to train you to become experts in and protectors of human rights, learn to think critically, research and engage experts, your neighbors and other stakeholders. We’re going to teach you how to film, edit and screen your call to action films to your community and to the world. And we’re going to have fun doing it. You will use these skills to fight HIV and AIDS and bring about dramatic social change in Lesotho.”

First day of training at the Kick4Life Football for Hope Center in Maseru, Lesotho

First day of training at the Kick4Life Football for Hope Center in Maseru, Lesotho

Following the success of implementing Siyakhona in Khayelitsha in the Western Cape and Alexandra Township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, Sony and FIFA have sponsored the Siyakhona Media Studio, with additional support from Streetfootballworld, for the Kick4Life Football for Hope Center in Maseru, situated behind the Palace of Justice on the old police training grounds.

Herbert and I kicked off the training by getting our new students to handle the camera for the first time. ‘Today was the most amazing day in my life. Unlike in most film schools and universities, the first thing we did was going straight into practically handling the camera and the mic. Everybody had a turn to introduce themselves with a mic while somebody was behind the camera filming them. Likewise, everybody had a turn behind the camera and film the introduction,’ writes Lepheana in his journal.

After an introduction to human rights and how it began the Siyakhona crew were sent out into the community to see how much people knew about their human rights. “I learned a lot about human rights only to find out there are 30 human rights, we did a little research, asked people what they knew about human rights. I believe as Siyakhona we’ll teach the community about what we have learned and we’re going to work hand in hand to bring changes,” writes Ben Mohajane. If you’d like to know more about your human rights, visit Youth for Human Rights

Watch our video on their first week of training and follow their progress on their very own blog site, Siyakhona Lesotho The site will be regularly updated with the Siyakhona crew’s journals and blogs and pretty soon they will begin uploading their call to action videos. We hope you’ll join us on their journey.

Before I blog about this month’s documentary Screening, I’d like to show Hillside Digital’s gratitude to Ms Kgomotso for blessing us with a sophisticated venue. We also want to thank our guests such as Linda Twala , AZAPO, SA HIP HOP , for taking time off their schedules to witness and admire our passion as the Hillside Digital family. I’d like to emphasize my thanks to the Siyakhona crew for bringing the whole event to life. Now that I’ve given thanks, let me get to what this blog is about, The Siyakhona Documentary Screening .

I feel I should elaborate to those who do not have the full scoop on what Siyakhona Hillside Digital is about. The Hillside Digital is a Non-Profitable Organization based in Alexandra Township, with a goal to plant a seed of change within the unattended community. It deals with the obstacles that bash the township against the wall. Hillside Digital goes out to the community and captures the matters, organizes screening events across the township and showcases them to the people it affects, community members . It also helps the worried citizens to come up with solutions as to how they can approach and defeat these problems. And so far, Hillside Digital has done an exceptionally good job to reach out a hand and try help bring these obstacles forth, through the power of video journalism.

So, on the 6th of June 2011 , Hillside Digital organizes a documentary screening, sets up in a well known venue in Alexandra Township (The Basement). The guests’ early arrival portrayed a sense of keenness toward the event and to witness what the Hillside Digital family had to showcase. The success of the event was unexpectedly great; since we had guests’ like Linda Twala who has had Alexandra Township in his hands for many years; he was instrumental in saving our Township and survived the police bombing his home back in the day. The documentary screening commences and goes on as planned. Our first documentary showcases one of the matters that the township faces on a daily bases-rape. It focuses on the young Alexandra citizens that have been victims and have suffered the ill consequences of living with HIV.

Our second documentary is based on Housing and the Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP). We show footage that Hillside Digital has gone out to research, and get feedback on how the people of the township have housing issue. It’s been disclosed that the unhappy citizens have bad experiences with the Housing Projects; they report that their houses are sold to unknown individuals that have paid enormous amounts of money. We then went out to hear what the ARP had to say about the matter, though the citizens are told by an ARP representative that it has nothing to do with the Housing Department selling their homes. Then the screening proceeds to another problem in Alexandra, updating our progress to end the rats crisis and the audience relates very well as they live under the disturbing conditions.  We then show a documentary called “Music Frees My Soul”; it is based on the passion and talent for music in Alexandra Township. We capture the young voices that live and love music; we meet music legends of Alex such as Jika Twala who is a musician and Moses Sibeko who is a producer. They move our concentration from the troubling topics to something the township is capable of-music. The young talent in Alexandra is marvelous though still undiscovered as yet, so Hillside Digital takes initiative to expose it at the screening event. After the Documentary Screening, we allow the citizens to have a voice and come up with solutions as to how we can better the community. They spoke about solutions as to how we could build a sanitarily clean and crime-free township, and luckily the audience really felt the need to stand as one and fight these battles together as a community. And we as Hillside Digital were content to realize that we have given a voice to Alexandra Township and the township has a voice found through  Siyakhona and Hillside Digital.

Hillside Digital Trust’s mantra is “We are one people, we have one destiny, we can make the world the way we’d like it to be.”

Our task is simple, to bring about real change and make a real difference. Our Siyakhona (We can do it) Video Journalists use their skills in film, new and social media as community organizers, they are empowered to engage with their community, identify the root causes of their social ills, organize the community to find the answers and implement action plans to solve the issue together with all role players, stakeholders and partners.

We started in October 2009 and our concept is proving itself as a game changer in community development. There’s been a paradigm shift at the offices of Region E since we presented our call to action video on the rats crisis in Alexandra Township.

To remind you Siyakhona’s advocacy call to action film on the rats crisis so impressed all the regional directors of Gauteng, that they pooled all their resources together, from as far as Orange farm and Soweto. Our film inspired the departments of health, environmental affairs, service delivery, roads, water, the Police, emergency services and others to join our campaign. Over three days they joined us and nine hundred local volunteers in a major clean up and education campaign. The Regional director has since overhauled their entire approach on service delivery. Before the campaign their departments worked in silos, each not knowing what the other was working on. Siyakhona has inspired the city to bring all departments together in an integrated service delivery plan for Alexandra and surrounding areas to combat service delivery issues in a manner that is sustainable and visible to the community.

Herbert and Lucky joined me at the Region E offices to identify the hotspots Siyakhona will focus on for the clean up campaign and rodent crisis; Pan Africa precinct, River Park Precinct, Madala Hostel, Nobuhle Hostel and Helen Joseph Women’s Hostel, how to monitor the project’s impact and get the support of specifically the hostel dwellers as well as the rest of the community. The regional director established monthly Siyakhona task group meetings at her offices. The task group involves representatives from departments of environmental health, housing, PickitUP, Stakeholder management, Service delivery, urban management and ourselves in which we will work together on this and other service delivery issues and implement innovative solutions.

All departments have been briefed on the Siyakhona Initiative and have been directed to submit plans on how they can best add to the project and its impact on the community. Further to the clean up campaign we are also discussing other projects such as recycling, developing green based cooperatives, rehabilitating the Jukskei river, ending tribalism as well as delving into the problem of housing delivery.

Region E will pay the costs of our public screenings, literature and marketing materials and participate in conversations with the community at our screenings. I met with Ephraim; marketing specialist for Region E, he relayed how excited they all are to join the Siyakhona Initiative and add to our work. He believes that joining our grass root initiatives will be far more effective than trying to implement projects developed at management level.

We’ve also been given the go ahead to produce and distribute a Siyakhona Environmental Health DVD on rodent control.

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 2,800 times in 2010. That’s about 7 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 46 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 82 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 96mb. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was December 10th with 85 views. The most popular post that day was 16 Days of Activism for no Violence against Women and Children..

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were networkedblogs.com, facebook.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, cardonation.sex991.com, and slashingtongue.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for siyakhona project, siyakhona, siyakhona africa, rebecca malope, and zwakanaka.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

16 Days of Activism for no Violence against Women and Children. November 2010

2

The Siyakhona Project June 2010
2 comments

3

About Hillside Digital June 2010

4

Siyakhona and Hillside Digital featured on CNN iReport June 2010

5

For the love of the Game. June 2010

NATIONAL LAUNCH PROGRAMME

THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM FOR NO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND CHILDREN CAMPAIGN

Picture by Azola Maliti

DATE : 25 NOVEMBER 2010 at OR TAMBO HALL, KHAYELITSHA IN W.CAPE

This has been a great successful event, the whole community stood up as a one society saying no to drugs and substance abuse, also on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, especial among youth.

They were saying no to Rape and brutal killings of women, defenceless grannies, people with disabilities and young children and also human trafficking. They also fight against not coping with the burden of HIV /Aids leading to suicide and killing of partners and violet crime.

It was great to see political parties united as one supporting their communities even though Mr Jacob Zuma and Helen Zille were not present. ANC, DA, NAPWA, HOME AFFAIRS, CHILD LINE and other NGO’s stood together and shouted with one voice; “DON’T LOOK AWAY, ACT AGAINST ABUSE”

There was also HIV/Aids test clinics, while Home Affairs were helping people with Identities and some got free t-shirts with flyers detailing contact details of programs and associations that could help.

This is how we should work as a province to protect our sisters, brothers and our parents, families together with our communities, so we started it here and you???