Villages Connected Blog

First steps in Fort Portal by Caroline Spira
June 8, 2011, 10:29 am
Filed under: Media Co-op Members, Project Updates | Tags: , , , , ,

Setting off from Kampala

If we could have, it’s very likely we would all have had our heads out the windows of the Villages Connected vehicle – anything to be able to better take in the views as we made our way to Fort Portal. But as it was, we had to contain our enthusiasm generally to the inside of the vehicle for the 5-hour drive from Kampala to Fort Portal.

View from the surrounding area of Fort Portal

There was no time to waste with too many camera acrobatics anyway. Having to make up for the lost day in Kampala, we quickly morphed into a controlled frenzy and adrenaline-pumping 36 hours that marked our arrival in Fort Portal and the start of the Villages Connected media co-op training.

Barely setting foot in Fort Portal, we quickly rushed over to St Maria Goretti Senior Secondary School – the Villages Connected training site for the next 4 weeks. Lounging on the grass below an avocado tree, we informally met some of the new media co-op participants. We started learning about each other and also answered the participants’ pressing questions.

getting to know each other

“You’re called Villages Connected but Fort Portal is a city, not a village – is that OK?”

“Of course,” we said. Fort Portal is part of the global village and has much to share with the world.

“What are the other villages? Can we learn from them too? Can we visit them and connect?”

“Fort Portal is the very first Villages Connected media co-op.” we replied. “You will set the standard for all the others to come. They will look to you, to your experiences so you can all learn and grow together.”

“Can we share what we create beyond our border?”

“Of course! You already are!”

As night began to fall, we reached the Villages Connected Headquarters – a rented house that is to be the crew’s abode for the next month. Although road weary, we spent the evening hours preparing the next day’s sessions, charging up the equipment and making some quick adjustments to schedules.

Outlining the next four weeks' events

The next morning we set up in a large classroom on the school’s beautiful campus and welcomed 20 participants ready to create media! Our charged-up first training day included not only introductions and outlines of things to come, but also covered the drafting of cornerstone elements of the media co-op, basic instructions in photography and shooting video.

Villages Connected’s vision is that local people in communities like Fort Portal can create media that tells their stories. They should also work together with socially responsible businesses to promote values they both share. But first, of course, a team of people – in the spirit of co-operation and participation – have to come together, learn together and then create media together.

media co-op members listening attentively

We discussed at length the power that media co-op’s members will have in portraying their community – a power usually reserved to outsiders. The members spoke about the need to be honest and transparent in capturing media so that what they will share will represent their truth, their reality.

We spoke at length about responsibility of using and caring for the cameras and other equipment provided by Villages Connected. We explored risks that can come with filming and how to deal with possible consequences. But most importantly, we didn’t forget about the rewards of using media to tell the stories each of them want to share.

demonstrating how to operate the camera: two hands, elbows in, pre-focus and shoot!

No first day would be complete without testing the equipment. As expected, not everyone had previously used a still camera, and even fewer had ever shot video. The room oozed enthusiasm; the dash of timidity on the part of some of the co-op members quickly dissipated once they were able to run around the school shooting video!!!

The day came to a close with homework. We told everyone about the photography and video assignments for the week – their chance to practice using the equipment, but also in starting to think more about the stories they want to tell about their community.

So stay tuned as the stories are captured and Fort Portal’s media co-op members create their first media!!!

St Maria Goretti students check out what all the fuss is about


1 Comment so far
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We can feel your enthusiasm and your student communicators’ excitement!
A great beginning and blog entry.

Comment by Art Spira

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