As a Kiva lender, I would often find myself looking at the slew of pictures and video on Kiva’s website and wondering about the moment the images were captured. This past week I was able to experience firsthand when Ryan, Kiva’s Video Production Manager, and Liz, Kiva’s Media Fellow, visited Kampala for several days to capture images from two of Kiva’s partner organizations I am working with in Uganda: Solar Sister & Grameen Foundation.
Kiva loans for both organizations work as business-in-a-box models whereby the borrower receives goods in-kind to use or sell that are funded by our lenders. The borrowers then pay back the loans with the proceeds or additional income from the use of the items in the box.
Below are some of the stories and pictures from behind the scenes of a Kiva film & photography road trip:
Solar Sister: Buwama & Mityana
Solar Sister’s business-in-a-box includes solar lamps for direct sale within their communities…think Avon or Mary Kay sales model.The purpose of our visit to Buwama was to photograph and film a Solar Sister training session led by Doryn at a local school and interview one of our borrowers, Jane Francis.
After the training Ryan interviewed Jane Francis and then we moved outside to do a little more filming...
Around 5pm we packed up the gear and headed back towards Kampala but not without a stop at the equator for a snack and obligatory photo opp:
On Monday we drove to Mityana which is about an hour and half outside of Kampala to interview Cathy, one of the superstar Solar Sisters...
The job of a Kiva media fellow is not always as glamorous as it seems.
Next we meet with sisters Rosie and Stella, daughters of a Solar Sister. We can’t film school children in the middle of the night for obvious reasons so instead we filmed inside a local Solar Sister, Veronica’s, house.
She hung blankets to make the room dark which made the lighting perfect but had the unintended consequence of making the room stifling hot. The girls were so cooperative and didn’t seem to mind. I, on the other hand, was fidgeting like crazy hoping the shoot would soon be over so we could open the door or a window.
Even though this shoot was uncomfortable, I loved observing the interaction of Rosie and Stella. I am the oldest of three girls and their actions reminded me so much of my sisters and me at that age. During breaks they would exchange glances, giggle, and poke each other in the ribs. It was a nice reminder of the bond shared by sisters while so far from my own.
As we were packing up, I walked around the side of the van to find this scene. Ryan was trying to squeeze in one final filming before we left. Even our driver Reagan had pitched in to help...
Grameen Foundation: Community Knowledge Worker program (Mpigi)
The Community Knowledge worker program is a network of community-elected leaders in small holder farming villages. Each CKW is equipped with a smartphone, Readyset charger, and weigh scale funded by Kiva lenders. The CKWs provide critical information via an app on their smartphone to other farmers in their area. Most use the Readyset to charge phones in their village for a small fee as supplemental income.
First we meet with Pascal, who is a "super" farmer. He has quite an impressive 17 acre plot where he grows maize, coffee, beans, and some bananas. He also rears pigs, chickens, and cows. One pig was purchased with the money he makes providing Grameen’s CKW service and another two were purchased with the money saved from using the solar light on his Readyset (part of the business in a bag) instead of purchasing paraffin to light his home.
We spent about an hour walking around Pascal's farm while he showed us all his crops and issues he has fixed using information on his smartphone.
After our tour around the farm we found a clearing to set-up for the interview with Pascal. This spot was perfect until Pascal's cow started to get aggressive and charged us at one point...eventually he had to herd it back home.
We returned the following morning to film more around Pascal's home and get footage of the information he used from the phone. We had to reshoot several times due to unforeseen bovine issues again...
After we got the footage we needed, Pascal took us to his neighbor's farm. Akaya is a farmer who was having a problem with banana weevils on his farm. Pascal was able to help him identify the problem and suggest a solution with the information on his CKW smartphone.
After, we said goodbye & weebale (thank you) to Pascal and headed to visit Alice, another CKW farmer and mother to 4 sons. She grows coffee and banana and now rears a small piglet named "Kiva" which she purchased with the money saved on paraffin from using the Readyset’s solar light. I've learned it is not easy to get a photo of piglets.
The following morning Alice took us to meet Tonny, another farmer who lives close to her mother’s home and was having problems with coffee wilt. She was able to help Tonny identify the problem and provide a solution by using the phone. She also had prior knowledge of this disease when she experienced the same problem with her coffee plants and used the information on her phone to help.
Afterwards we went back to Alice's house in town to meet three of her boys before we departed back to Kampala.
The last week was so rewarding to meet borrowers in their homes. The amount of pride our borrowers take in their work is so inspiring! I also have a newfound appreciation of how much work and patience from all involved goes into a single great photo or a 5 second video clip!