In Our Village
12 Sep 2007
An American non-profit organisation, What Kids Can Do,has worked with students at Awet Secondary School in Kambi ya Simba todocument daily life in their village. The students photographs and stories appear in a new bookentitled In Our Village: Kambi ya Simba Through the Eyes of Its Youth.
Attention: This article has been imported from our old websiteWhile we've taken every precaution to ensure that the content of this article remains intact, it may contain errors.
Kambi ya Simba Through
the Eyes of Its Youth
In Tanzania, close to the towering Mount Kilimanjaro, the vast plains of the Serengeti and the Great Rift Valley, lies the rural village of Kambi ya Simba. It has one road in and one road out. Its 5,000 residents are farmers who are poor by every measure. They know scarcity which can make ‚Äòenough seem like plenty. In a world of digital technology and designer coffee, they illuminate the night with lanterns and drink from pumps that often carry illness.
For two years, an American non-profit organisation, What Kids Can Do, has worked with students at Awet Secondary School in Kambi ya Simba to document daily life in their village‚Ä’with digital cameras and tape recorders.The students photographs and stories appear in a new book entitled In Our Village: Kambi ya Simba Through the Eyes of Its Youth.
We began our work together by taking stock of the villages assets, from land, livestock and tractors, to friendship, faith and the wisdom of elders. We narrowed the list and the students wrote down everything they knew about each, creating a common pool of knowledge from which to draw.
We worked on weekends and after school, until the sun gave way to kerosene lamps. Each expedi-tion to take photographs entailed walking five miles or more. None of the students had ever held a camera before but they soon mastered the skill. They took over a thousand photographs and, with only a few exceptions, the pictures that animate the book are all theirs.
Creating the accompanying narrative was less straightforward as I spoke American. They spoke British and of course, their national language was Kiswahili but some of the villager residents we interviewed spoke only the local Iraqw. We worked hard to understand each other.
As we finished, I asked students to reflect on the project. This is what they told me: ‚ÄúIt stretched our imagination in so many ways. Few of us have journeyed beyond the town of Karatu, 19 kilometres distant. Of the larger world, we know only what our teachers have told us, a small encyclopedia we carry in our heads, containing facts and words, a few pictures and no sound. Lacking electricity and computers, we have not travelled the Internet or watched other media that would show us life elsewhere, true or false.‚Äù
On our parting, they told me this: ‚ÄúIt astounds us ‚Ä’ and we remain unconvinced ‚Ä’ that anyone outside our village would care about our stories and our challenges… Your interest means the world to us. To us, it means the world.‚Äù
To purchase ‚ÄòIn Our Village:
Kambi ya Simba Through the Eyes of its Youth
Edited by Barbara Cervone
All proceeds go towards a scholarship fund at Awet Secondary School for village youth dreaming of higher education
All photos: ¬© What Kids can Do
If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a donation
Donating helps us keep reporting on positive news