After driving along dirt roads, following obscure directions to find the neighborhood “under the neem tree”, we would pull up in our battered Wagon R, careful to avoid any raging potholes or wandering cow, to the chorus of hundreds of kids screaming, “the TV is coming! The TV is coming!” We would set up our minimalistic equipment: a big screen, a broken stool and a basic video projector – all run by the extra battery in the trunk of the car and connected to the car stereo speakers. And then we would hit play and, for about an hour, watch as the screen reflected back in the eyes of the children (and their parents and their neighbors). We would watch as their expressions followed the characters they saw. We would watch as, for that hour, they were transformed and entertained. Between technical failures and drunk disruptions, we would laugh as the children laughed and enjoy with them the happily ever afters on screen. And the best part – we played movies made by other kids – kids we had worked with for months and months to learn acting and self-expression, story-writing and communication skills, creativity and facts about social issues. And the movies were not only educational but hilarious and dramatic and romantic and interesting. For us, these local film screenings were a double success – we got to see the conclusion of the growth of the children who made the film as well as the beginning of learning for the children who watched the film.
That’s the bright side of development – of the five years of work I did with Kid Powered Media. But there is a dark side too. The side that demands impact and metrics. The side that values numbers and growth and products instead of process. The side where interpersonal politics and donor demands overpower collaborative creativity. And unfortunately, it’s this side that usually drives things.
click to see more photos of the bright side.