Wednesday, March 13, 2013
The Kuza Project Interviews: Stella
A few notes on the interview with Stella:
Due to our general ineptitude at speaking Swahili, the mentors were kind enough to speak with us in English during the interviews- although it was more difficult for them. However, part of the miscommunications in this interview (and others) lies not necessarily in the language barrier, but rather in that Lili and I were speaking too quickly and not differentiating enough between our questions. Stella was the very first mentor we interviewed and so she also had to deal with both our bubbling excitement and nervousness as well as our inexperience (this was both mine and Lili's first time drafting interview questions and conducting a one-on-one interview). So both parties were kind of playing it by ear- very informal- but I like to think more genuine. We didn't tell any of the mentors the questions we were going to ask in advance. We just sat down and talked.
To clarify- the Kuza mentors and program coordinators meet once a week on Mondays (I believe Stella said that they have their 'monthly' meeting on Mondays), while every Saturday the mentors meet with the girls.
The places Stella mentions, Mukuru Kwa Reuben and Lunga Lunga are Youth Centers run by U-Tena that are open to all youth, not just the Kuza girls. However, these centers (among other places) are used by U-Tena to run Kuza meetings. Most Saturdays it is 10 girls working with 2 mentors. However, once a month all the mentors and all the girls gather at Lunga Lunga to give presentations, have group discussions, play games, and share a meal.
Lastly, at the end of the interview Stella mentions that "some mentors are not ready to work." This should not be read as some of the mentors aren't invested in the Kuza program, rather that extenuating circumstances can make it difficult for some of the mentors to participate to the optimal extent. Many of the mentors have their own children to take care of- and as Stella mentions, being a Kuza mentor is entirely volunteered time; The mentors are not earning a stipend for their work. In talking to the mentors I learned that often, although they do not have money to spare, they will give money to the girls in the program if the problem is critical ( allowing girls to purchase much needed food, feminine hygiene products, etc.). What she is talking about in terms of improvement that there needs to be better coordination between the mentors- a better system- to help overcome both individual and group problems so that mentors don't have to deal with complex and physically/emotionally exhausting situations on their own.
We also apologize for the poor video quality, we didn't anticipate the difficulties in video file format conversion. :(