Kenya Field of Dreams
Digital Planet had a thing on the Kenya Field Of Dreams project this morning. This is an inflatable screen set up in Kilifi, a town north of Mombasa. It is supported by UK Sport, Google and Moving the Goalposts, a charity that uses football to empower girls. The BBC has given this project a lot of coverage, Digital Planet is the most recent.
Where to start. Nominally, in a town where hardly anyone has a tv, a large inflatable screen was set up to broadcast the FIFA World Cup games. The screen came from Open Air Cinema, donated by Google. Stuart Farmer of Open Air Cinema provided support and training. The Open Air Cinema package is just one of many kinds of inflatable screens, usually advertised for showing movies on the beach or at pool parties. The least horrible video I found of how they are set up is this one from Airscreen:
They all follow the same principles: the inflatable screen and support structure are stuffed in a big bag accompanied by a small suitcase with a rear screen projector, a hammer, stakes, speakers and a fan: it's a tidy package. Inflatable screens withstand the weather better than a fixed screen. They bounce around in the wind, but don't blow away.
On the Kenya Field of Dreams blog Alix in Kilifi writes: 'Oddly, it's not the high-technology which struggles here — we have a satellite internet connection, 3G broadband dongles and excellent mobile coverage for organisation, and imminent arrival of WiMax – it's the low tech: Weather, sanitation, electricity.'
The fan that inflates the screen is run off a generator and it inflates quickly, in a minute or so. It is the girls of Moving the Goalposts who set it all up, make the connections and fix bugs. The girl who was interviewed on Digital Planet said that after the World Cup they will show educational videos about health and education.
Now, remember all you fellows who can't figure out how to work a digital camera and Photoshop, these are teenaged girls at risk in extreme poverty. The Moving the Goalposts Kenya site describes its mandate: 'Girls and women in Kilifi District, Kenya are some of the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people. Low retention in school, early and unintended pregnancies and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS trap them in a cycle of poverty. Moving the Goalposts Kilifi (MTG) uses football to empower girls and young women, helping them to fulfill their potential both on and off the football field.'
Moving the Goalposts Kenya started in 2001 with a small grant from the British Council and advice from Moving the Goalposts UK. Football teams were formed, matches played, there are now over 3,000 players. It has reproductive health rights programmes, HIV/AIDS programmes and a new economic empowerment project. In 2008 MTG Kenya built a headquarters building with help from the British HIgh Commission and the Ford Foundation.
There is something about this story that makes me feel as if I am the one living in an impoverished society.