October 5, 2010

Final Reflection Report from the Field: Rwanda

Posted in Final Reports at 2:33 am by kampala2capetown

This is one in a series of 4 final reflection reports! They are written by the on site coordinator who ran the screen and managed the overall programs.

The FIFA World Cup 2010 will always be a memorable event for many children of Rubavu district formerly known as Gisenyi in the North West of Rwanda. They watched three quarters of the matches live on a giant inflatable screen courtesy of UNICEF NY and One UN Rwanda.

The majority of children (70%) had not access to any other means of watching the World Cup matches. But there is a good number of others who simply enjoyed the atmosphere of watching the matches and the other video messages that were being screened.

The local authorities were very supportive and since this location was near the Congo it meant that security was the most important issue on the staff’s mind.

The local community host VJN was very well suited for the challenge. They had facilities, motivation and passion to entertain the audience between and before the matches. The audience enjoyed dances and contemporary music performances and this added to the entertainment and educational value of the whole occasion. This could have been even better if there was a way of involving national music and comedy stars to perform and pass on the messages live.

Football remains the most popular game here and anything to do with it is sure to draw huge crowds especially of the young. And they are very aware of football news that all international, regional and national tournaments are followed closely. For example the European tournaments that are currently beginning are already generating much excitement with the youth.

Rwanda is such a small country and communication is very efficient. The national radio covers the whole little country. What is said or communicated on radio is heard by the entire population. The young journalist trainees’ recordings should find their way on national radio and use this as way of the youth engaging fellow youth and even their leaders. The training is a fantastic idea that should be encouraged and made sustainable by advocating for the children to voice/air their views on the national radio since it is the one in which everyone Rwandan has confidence and trust.

Videos are always popular with the youth and all messages will be readily consumed if well packaged and in Kinyarwanda and especially if they have a funny angle to them. People, the youth in Rwanda are so starved of laughter that they cling to anything remotely funny in a video. And for that matter, live stand-up comedy can definitely be used for messaging.

A lot can be done in terms of getting the people’s attention so long it is well organized and information based. There is always a huge number of curious onlookers who are bored especially in late afternoons when they are free and have finished work on their land. The total absence of any entertainment in the rural areas guarantees a good audience of both young and old in the rural areas especially if it is based around an inflatable screen and a loudspeaker. People are known to immensely enjoy Western made movies so long as they are dubbed over in Kinyarwanda. The young men who do the dubbing hardly understand English themselves. So they fabricate stories around these movies just to entertain the masses. This is a booming business. They are called “the explained’ movies.

The next World Cup feels distant to most Rwandan kids. But this is only because they know they have enough football in between. There is the CAN, UEFA, the British, Spanish, Italian and other Italian leagues. However all these are only accessible to those young people leaving in townships where there is electricity and satellite tv. On the whole about 1% of the Rwandan population have access to a television set and about 10% have access to electricity.

So a huge number of young people can still benefit from entertainment and education if they are reached.

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