Two universities in western Kenya have collaborated with an American university in a media project to disseminate videos and articles about how foreign and local aid is changing lives in the region.
The project is called Pamoja-Together. It is jointly undertaken by Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) in Bondo, Great Lakes University of Kisumu, and America’s Boston University.
Prof Charles Oduke, the convener of the project at JOOUST, says that Pamoja-Together uses media to link communication and public health issues, and trains students to use their knowledge of the two to highlight issues of concern to communities around them.
Boston University donated still-photography and video cameras, Ipads, Mac computers, video-editing software and other equipment with an estimated total value of about $6,000 (Sh522,000) for the project.
Students from Boston University’s school of journalism assist their Kenyan counterparts with tutorials on photography, audio and video editing.
JOOUST has further sought the assistance of Kenyan journalists to train the students on how to judge the newsworthiness of a story, what kind of shots to take for a good documentary, and script writing, among other skills.
The students shoot low-budget videos about community development projects funded by locals and foreigners, and demonstrate the project managers’ prudence in managing money, as well as how the communities have benefited.
The videos are posted on the programme’s YouTube site, while the pictures and print stories are shared on Twitter, Facebook and a blog.
Beatrice Orwako, a participant in the project, revealed that the group had so far produced 40 videos, audios, photos and text stories about how aid works.
Adds Prof Oduke: “These stories are told from the beneficiaries point of view… We are seeking to show that Kenya is a development-conscious nation that will manage resources to achieve progress… We are not seeking any financial gain from this…”
The stories also highlight the limitations of foreign aid, therefore serving as crucial feedback to donors.
Pamoja-Together draws its membership from students pursuing diverse disciplines—not only those from media and journalism schools—provided they can handle media equipment, says Prof Oduke.
The programme is sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Since its inception in May 2013, Pamoja-Together has helped students from Kenya to gain wide exposure. Members have spoken at events at Boston University, including the Narrative Conference, an annual forum drawing journalists and storytellers from around the world.
The annual International Society for Technology in Education conference, also a forum of interest to Pamoja-Together, will take place in June in the US city of Atlanta in Georgia.