2.5 weeks ago, we arrived at Lusaka airport unknown of all the adventures and challenges ahead of us. During the bus ride to our destination Mfuwe, a lot of thoughts crossed our minds. What will the village look like? What will the local people think of us? What will be possible to achieve in the coming 4 weeks? Facing all these insecurities, it was a nice surprise that members from SEKA, the local theater group and an important partner, welcomed us with a big applause at the local bus station.
After a weekend of getting used to the environment and finding ways to secure our biscuits, which the monkeys were eager to get to, it was time to start our research! And research wouldn’t be research if it all went according to plan. The first challenge was that the relationship between the school and another potential local actor was not on the best of terms. This made the intercultural school project we developed to create a more financial sustainable organization in the future, more difficult to examine. This change in local context immediately confronted us with the reality of doing research in a foreign country. Keeping this intercultural school project in mind, we started focusing on the impact measurement and the examination of the proposal of selling tickets for the play written by the students to tourists among the lodges (the so-called ticket program). Besides that, attention was given to the search for a possible board.
The last 1.5 week was all about collecting information through interviews with lodges, (old) project students and potential partners with which we made a lot of progress. The ticket program was received positively by the lodges and although the gatekeepers were a little bit skeptical, we still believe it is worth a try. During interviews with old students, it was beautiful to see that all the students were inspired by the playwriting and radio classes and that they felt more confident. Most of them are still writing stories and it is amazing to hear about their ambitions for the future.
The most difficult part of this project is the search for an organizational structure that fits Studio Zambia’s goals. Cooperation with (new) local partners is required for a more sustainable organization in the future. However, the challenge with involving partnerships in this organizational structure is that more and more interests need to be considered. This makes starting a cooperation complicated. In this, we still have a long way to go.
In the end, it is an amazing and instructive experience! Working with the local actors involved and getting to know the Zambian context, makes us feel like we already become part of the local community. We still have 1.5 weeks left to further elaborate on our research and to support the play and radio making program to make it also this year a great success!
Roman, Veerle & Linda