Trying to accurately depict Kenyan street life, as a filmmaker who grew up in middle class America, is almost an impossible challenge. But if you spend enough time at MITS, you’ll find that these students, and former street kids, have enough talent in their bones and courage in their hearts to share their stories with anyone who will listen—through songs and raps and spoken words.
But “anyone who will listen” tends to be limited to talent shows in chapel every Thursday. And because God has written incredible stories of redemption into their souls, I firmly believe these kids need a wider platform than that. So with the encouragement of Irene, and the enthusiasm of one student in particular, I grabbed the one thing that could give these voices a stage they deserve—my camera.
Now, let me tell you about Peter: talented, well-spoken, brilliant, resilient. And his spoken word about growing up in the streets of Nairobi reflected all of that and more. He’s brutally honest and throughout his two-minute long poetically spoken piece, he humbly gives all of the glory to God.
It was a challenge getting the audio just right—and we ended up having to re-film. It was a challenge finding an atmosphere with no noise and a challenge translating his slang Swahili into coherent English subtitles. It was a challenge filming on the streets of Eastleigh—making sure that the street kids in the video were shown with dignity and personality and hope.
And it was a challenge trying to make sure that Peter’s artistic vision for the piece came true. Because for this video, I was simply the messenger.
And it was my favorite challenge yet.
Because of this humbling opportunity to videotape Peter, I am more aware than ever that the students here will always be the best voices for what God is doing in and through Made in the Streets. And I hope, so incredibly badly, that people will take the time to listen to these voices. For they are future world-changers. I’m sure of it.
by Meredith Mansfield
MITS Filmmaker Intern
This was by far the hardest video I’ve ever made—and it lasts a total of 47 seconds.
But it was because we faced the streets—where it was dangerous to even be holding a camera. And where I got yelled at by the Eastleigh MITS staff to put my camera away almost all of the time I was there—even during two of the shots that made it into the film (though I cut them out).
Because we traversed Nairobi to find a time-lapse shot of the sun going down. Which meant we had to go to and from the Kenyatta International Conference Centre twice. And we stayed on top of that building for two hours waiting for the sun to set, while Kaylee and Sloan got attacked by birds for having blonde hair and my camera battery died almost at the worst possible moment.
Because we trekked 3 miles in the mud to get the shot of Charles blowing flour into the camera and Matua giving Alex a haircut. And while the hot mud made us exhausted and annoyed, I loved that day. Because I got to have Charles and Jeff argue over who was going to blow the flour into the camera and I got to help Ruby make rice for lunch. And Tua came up to me shortly after, telling me that he was cutting Alex’s hair in a bit and he wanted me to film it. Which, I did (of course) and that made it into the video too.
But my favorite part of making this project is getting to show the final product to my friends here. I remember Laban, one of the students at the learning center, watching my video and pointing at the streets kids in the very first few shots and exclaiming, “that was my base!” And thinking, Laban could’ve been in that shot, with all of the street kids, if he hadn’t made the choice to join MITS. All of them could’ve been still on the streets.
And now, they just seem completely transformed. They’re wearing uniforms and they’re studying and they’re basketball players and football (soccer) players and they’re dancing to Chris Brown and making dinner every day all together while playing jokes on me in the process. They’re servant-hearted and hilarious and for some reason, they let me be a part of their little family here.
And the best part is that all I get to do these next few months is reveal parts of this new family, and parts of God’s transformative grace, to you through film.
Meredith Mansfield is spending summer 2018 living at our facility in Kamulu, Kenya, and sharing our world with you through film as a Filmmaker Intern. Check out our other internships here >>
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