With this week’s introduction to Iran Inside Out, a video-blogging project led by Shaghayegh Azimi, all ten Rising Voices grantees have now been introduced. Some of the earliest projects, like Nari Jibon in Bangladesh, have been active for nearly a year now. Here is a comprehensive run-through of some of the successes and challenges they have met along the road.
Happy Pahela Baishakh! Last Monday marked the first day of year 1415 according to the Bangla calendar. Nari Jibon students and staff celebrated with songs, poetry, and a brief skit. They started the evening by singing Esho hey Baishakh, esho, esho (“Welcome, O Baishakh, welcome”), a famous New Year ballad by Rabindranath Tagore. Beyond their beautiful voices, you’ll also discover that the students at Nari Jibon have become talented video-bloggers. Check out this video of Feroza Begum Poly and Afroza Aktermore dancing to a popular Bengali song and many more videos on their YouTube and Blip.tv pages.
Like Rezwan mentioned back in January, the project blog for Neighbourhood Diaries is practically a manual describing how to run an effective outreach project. Throughout December and January the roughly 15 young citizen journalists became confident reporters venturing out into their neighbourhood with pens and pads of paper. Though they have stopped meeting for the past two months in order to study for school exams, the Bow Bazaar blog group will resume once again in the upcoming weeks and combine their newly acquired reporting skills with tools like blogs and Flickr.
I think it is safe to say that the Think Build Change Salone project in Sierra Leone has been met with more obstacles than any other of the Rising Voices outreach projects. Just last week, project coordinator Vickie Remoe-Doherty wrote an extensive post describing all the trials and tribulations, glimpses of hope, and final frustrations. That does not mean, however, that Vickie is giving up. With the help of new partner-organizations, she is now re-working her plan to bring new Sierra Leonean bloggers to the global conversation occurring everyday on Global Voices.
From day one, project leaders Alvaro Ramirez, Jorge Montoya, and Juliana Rincón got straight to work to teach residents living on the outskirts of Medellín, Colombia how to blog and post videos to the internet. Joined with the enthusiasm of San Javier La Loma’s local librarian, Gabriel Vanegas, the HiperBarrio young cyber-activists are now practically local celebrities with the power to help shape their community’s local policy. After training new bloggers in Santo Domingo and La Loma, HiperBarrio trainers have since moved on to their third community, Caldas. Rezwan describes more of their recent activities, videos, and blog posts in last week’s feature post.
It is hard to believe that Voces Bolivianas was one of the last projects from the first round of grants to get started. Since that first pilot project in El Alto, they have expanded their outreach campaign in Santa Cruz, again in El Alto, and on Saturday, in eight different sites across the country. In total, they have trained over 100 new Bolivian bloggers from communities that were previously barely represented on the web. For an example of who led some of the workshops on Saturday, take a look at this profile of Santos Huanca and Wara Yampara, who led a training workshop on the outskirts of El Alto. You can also see videos, photos, and links to all the new blogs from the workshop in Oruro.
The FOKO blog club deserves special congratulations as they just celebrated six months of training Malagasies how share their lives and their stories with a global readership. But don’t listen to me talk about all their accomplishments – even if you don’t speak Malagasy or French, you’ll be much better of listening in on their most recently Skype conversation here. Just one example of the amazing reporting coming from FOKO’s citizen journalists is “Dominique the Street Kid“ by Nombana.
With a laptop in the hands of every single child in Uruguay, Pablo Flores’ project of training a new generation of students how to participate in a new environment of media literacy has the greatest potential for real social change. But first, he needs to make sure that all of the OLPC laptop computers are distributed and that Uruguayan teachers know how to integrate the machines into their regular curricula. Slowly but surely, Flores and the Ceibal Project team are perfecting the deployment of the laptops to school districts around the country. Just last week, Flores described the reception of the small green computers in the province of Colonia in an event which gathered teachers, parents, students, and volunteers. Though we are still several months away from the training workshops Flores has planned to teach hundreds of Uruguayan students how to start blogging, several teachers and students from the province of Florida have already created weblogs with their XO laptops.
How many blogs do you read authored by prisoners? How about blogs written by Jamaicans? What about blogs written by Jamaican Prisoners? Of course it is an unfair question as, so far, there are no blogs written by Jamaican prisoners. But Lecia-Gaye Gordon and Kevin Wallen want to change that by training prisoners at Tower Street’s General Penitentiary how to describe prison life to those outside. Though off to a slower start than expected, Kevin and Lecia-Gaye continue to meet with the prisoners and we hope to see the first collection of blog posts any week now.
When REPACTED first submitted its proposal to train a new community of bloggers living on the outskirts of Nakuru, Kenya, little did they know that late December’s presidential elections would bring about Kenya’s most severe crisis in over a decade. As project leader Dennis Kimambo relates in an interview with Rezwan, the eruption of violence throughout January inspired REPACTED to shift the focus of their outreach campaign on the thousands of families living in displacement camps in and around Nakuru. Unfortunately, problems getting the grant money to REPACTED has delayed the start of their project, but they are now just a few weeks away from getting going.
Finally, with the publication of last week’s trailer, we are starting to see the first work come from Shaghayegh Azimi’s Iran Inside Out project. In coming weeks we’ll get a glimpse of Iran’s underground heavy metal scene and a personal reflection from one filmmaker about what a US-Iran war would mean. Make sure to let Shaghayegh know what you’d like to learn about Iran.