Girls Share Digital Stories

The Jüdische Kulturbund launched its first Girls Shared Digital Stories in Kenya on October 1, 2022. Living together for two weeks in Cheptebo, Kenya, a team of four Americans and two Kenyans artists and educators mentored 15 girls from remote villages outside of Eldoret to learn techniques in digital storytelling.

Remarks from Meg Whitman, United States Ambassador to Kenya

The Plan

Thanks to support from the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship and U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, four Americans — Mark Haney, Kaitlyn Haney, Noa Zimmerman, and Gail Prensky — flew in late September 2022 to Eldoret, Kenya.

They brought with them duffel bags filled with art materials and digital equipment to make sure the program was well stocked with creative provisions. Twenty-two hours later, they met in Eldoret their Kenyan partners and MWF alumni 2021 — Viola Sang and Saum Idd. Together, the American and Kenyan teams traveled to the AIC Cheptebo Conference Center in the Kerio Valley to facilitate Kenya Girls Share Digital Stories, an effort they had planned for several months.

Gail, Kaitlyn, and Saum (front, left to right). Mark, Viola, and Noa (back, left to right)

The united team prepared for 15 girls from Viola's and Saum's communities in Elgeyo Maakwet, Uasin Gishu, and Nandi counties to arrive at the conference center to begin the two-week immersive workshop.

The workshop facilitators led presentations, discussions, and creative activities that focused on issues that personally affected the young women: insecurity; early marriages; FGM; early pregnancies; inability to access formal education; limited feminine hygiene products and health care; poverty; and lack of communication with the outside world.

With gratitude, the young women received re-usable menstruation pads and cups, donated by the Period Project, Too Little Children, and Saalt.

Special guests visited the program to talk about music, gender, and freedom.

The Goal

Kenya Girls Digital Stories encourages participants to find their voices for peace, equality, and positive social change; inspires creative expression using dance, spoken word, poetry, music, visual art, photography and videography; and provides storytelling skills in a safe space among peers, professional artists, and educators.

In two short weeks, Kenya Girls Share Stories achieved its goals. Fifteen young women produced 18 digital stories about running, food, gender equality and positive self-image, and period power through the lens of oppression and resiliency.

They left the workshop expressing interest in leading discussions and projects, using the creative tools learned in the workshop, to raise awareness about and explore solutions for issues that affect themselves and their families, and communities.

The Digital Stories

Week One. While the group focused on learning digital storytelling techniques, they produced five collaborative stories.

The girls explored the power of Running to achieve freedom, using spoken words and art.

The girls wrote the song We as Women, We As Girls to celebrate the power of being a woman.

Najipenda, which means I love myself, is a collection of art that the girls created to describe their self worth.

We Can Share The Food is a song written by the girls that expresses the abundance of sustainable food resources in their country.

The girls explored the meaning of Period Power and the special nature of being a woman through words and visual art.

Week Two. The girls wrote and produced individual digital stories, using the techniques they learned during the previous week in writing, spoken word, visual art, photography and videography, music, and dance.