Final Stretch

With less than three weeks left in Mwanza, it feels like our internship has flown by. Amber and I are wrapping up filming for all of our projects this week and will spend the last bit of our internship completing our translations and the final edits of our videos.

With the production side of things winding down, it feels like a huge chapter of my internship is coming to a close. Several times a week for the past two months I could expect to wake up, venture on the dala dala to a different part of Mwanza and visit new yogurt kitchens. My work here has offered me a unique opportunity to learn about Tanzanian culture and society. I’m so thankful for the time my internship has allowed me to have with the yogurt mamas and the opportunity to have sit down conversations with them about their challenges and successes. Working so closely with the mamas has been an absolute pleasure and I’m sad that our visits have come to an end. The women have been so generous, welcoming Amber and I into their homes and opening up to us. This internship has reaffirmed my love of making videos, but even more so my love of interviewing and connecting on a personal level with others.

Filming with Yogurt Mamas from Ebeneza Women's Group
Filming with Yogurt Mamas from Ebeneza Women’s Group

Editing has been underway for a while now, but with filming finishing up we can focus on it full time. Making sure I’m telling the story of each kitchen and each mama properly is a huge responsibility and I want to do them all justice. Although the pressure can be stressful, it pushes me to produce the best work I can and I’m excited to see how the videos turn out.

Back-to-back-to-back

It feels like every week, there are exciting updates on the work we’re doing. With our schedule changing day-to-day, there’s always something new to report on.

This past week has been a busy one. Amber and I had three filming days, back-to-back-to-back. We filmed at three very different kitchens with completely different stories.

On Monday, we filmed at Freddy’s kitchen – The Kineza Milk Group. It’s one of the only male-led kitchens and Freddy shared his insights on the importance of empowering woman and the role men can play as ally’s. On Tuesday, we filmed at Hida’s Fermented Food Enterprise, a small factory run by an incredibly driven and business-minded woman. On Wednesday, we made our third visit and first filming day at Foundation Karibu Tanzania, a rescue and rehabilitation centre for abused children.

Wednesday was one of the most exhausting, uplifting and fun shoots I’ve ever done. Amber and I had visited several times prior and discussed via email and text with the centre’s employees to comprehensively plan the creative strategy of the video. We prepared for this shoot a lot because we wanted to have a clear vision of how the centre and the children would be represented respectfully and responsibly.

The kids were excited to see us, as they hadn’t seen us since an event at the centre a few weeks prior. We had gone to the event not only to be involved in the community, but also with the intention of meeting the kids so they felt more comfortable around us and our cameras before we started filming. It was such an incredible filled with laughing, dancing and playing with the kids. We got some incredible footage of the property, of the kids laughing with their yogurt moustache’s after lunch and some powerful interviews with the foundation’s employees on the importance of the work they do and the impact the Fiti yogurt has had on the health of the kids. By the end of the day we could barely tear ourselves apart from them… literally. Amber and I were getting our hair braided by four girls each, with some of the younger kids hanging on our backs and sitting in our laps. The staff were so generous with their time and we cannot wait to go back to see them and the children.

To finish the work week, Amber, Iman and I spent our Saturday afternoon at Mikono Yetu attending a weekly Eagle Movement meeting. The Eagle Movement is a club Maimuna has organized in three local schools. They meet with young girls at the school, aged 11-18 years old, to read the lesser-known historical stories of African queens and discuss topics of female empowerment. It was a privilege to be able to sit in on this meeting and meet these smart, driven young women. In the future Amber and I will be producing a video on the impact of the Eagle Movement and I can’t wait until we get to attend our next meeting!

Hello from Mwanza!

Although I’ve been in Mwanza for nearly a month, it didn’t take more than the first few days for it to start feeling like home. I expected to feel settled and adjusted by this point, but I don’t think I expected to feel this settled and adjusted.

The people in Mwanza, and Tanzania in general, are so incredibly warm and welcoming. One of the first things I noticed was how the culture of welcoming people was built right into the language. Karibu translates to welcome and it’s one of the most common words you hear when you walk into a shop, a restaurant or even just down the street. I love Swahili and really want to learn more. At this point I have the basics down: greetings, some directions, numbers, the names of food, common questions and expressions.

As for work, I wake up everyday excited about my projects. Each day holds something new: sometimes we’re at the Mikono Yetu offices exchanging ideas, some days we’re out in the community meeting with yogurt mamas or filming videos, and others we’re working from home, planning our next project or editing. The variety in our work schedules demands self-discipline. There’s no formal due dates or check-ins, which leaves me responsible for myself. It’s an independence you don’t often get in internships and a responsibility I’m eager to take on.

So far, Amber and I have focused on my project: producing short 2-5 minute-long videos documenting the success stories of different yogurt kitchens in Mwanza. We’ve filmed three of my ten videos and are starting to plan her documentary.

The filming process has presented some unique challenges, the most notable being the language barrier. Using a translator allows us to interview women who speak Swahili, but when it comes to editing it’s still difficult to know which clips to use when you don’t know specifically what people are saying sentence by sentence. We’ve tried out different ways of translating and filming on our three shoots and thankfully we’ve been working through the challenges and improving the process with every day. Although filming days can be long and sometimes frustrating, it’s such a rarity to be given full creative control as an intern and the opportunity to navigate these challenges with Amber is really exciting!

The part of my day I probably look forward to most is when we head up to our roof and watch the sunset. It’s become our roommate daily ritual of laying down a blanket, playing music and winding down from our sometimes chaotic days. The city streets can feel crowded and hectic, but we get to watch it all wind down from our roof. The loading trucks pack up and drive off and mishkaki stands close for the night. I love sitting there until it’s dark, looking out at the city and the lake and talking about what we’re going to do tomorrow.

The sunset from our roof