The following post and video were provided by Abie Troen, a participant in the Global Justice Summer Internships. A student at Brandeis University majoring in Film Studies, Troen is serving as multimedia intern with the Kenya National Alliance of Street Vendors and Informal Traders (KENASVIT).
This internship is the most challenging, difficult, and wonderful project I have ever taken part in. This video is a personal collage of 12 moments from my experience here. From the president of Kenya to the filth in Muthurwa Market, a rally in Nakuru, and a hip hop band. It’s an honest portrayal of this plunge into figuring out a small piece of this diverse world.
The Kenya National Alliance of Street Vendors and Informal Traders (KENASVIT) is a unique organization that deals with a number of issues: organizing and monitoring members of the informal economy, educating informal traders and providing small-scale loans so as to allow them to eventually “graduate” to the formal economy, and supporting grassroots community-based organizations of vendors and advocating for the rights of the informal economy through work with the government and legislation. It’s in this last part of their work that I come in.
You can find me in Kenya doing one of three things — the three stages of my work:
- Talking, listening, and learning about the work, passions, hopes, and significant problems street vendors deal with. This could be meeting “Abush” in the marketplace in Nakuru, on the street corner near the garbage bin with Grace in Nairobi, or during a lunch break eating goat meat (Nyama Choma) at a small working class bar with Wilson. At this stage I only take photos and write. A lot.
- Filming. This could be either following “live scenes,” for instance the Manyani Youth Group Football Club, teenage hawkers who pick through garbage so they can sell it and support their football team. Or conducting interviews, sitting in offices of government officials or in the marketplace, and trying to learn firsthand, on camera, what is, can, and should be done to promote the rights of street vendors.
- Editing. Sitting first by myself, and then later on consulting with members of the NGO who watch themselves — and help tell their story through their eyes.
By the time I’m done, I hope to leave behind me a website, a few short promotional documentaries, and lots of stills to be used in flyers, posters, newsletters, and official documents.