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Dordt College News

Dordt students film documentary in African slum

January 22, 2010

Slum

A dozen Dordt College students traveled to Nairobi, Kenya, December 29 through January 10 to film footage of one of the largest slums in Africa.

Making the trip to Kenya with Mark Volkers, the digital media production instructor at Dordt, were Alvin Shim and Danielle Roos, Sioux Center; Dale Vande Griend, Hull; Luke Kreykes Sheldon IA; Piper (Kucera) Kroeze, Traer, IA; Daniel Kauten, Denver, IA; Michelle Nyhoff, Littleton, CO; Andrew Hornor, Houston, TX; Kelly Cooke, Fort Lauderdale, FL; Peter Hessels Dunnville ON; and Hani Yang, Merida Yucatan, Mexico.

A slum in the Philippines and the notorious “La Limonada,” slum in Guatemala City had previously been filmed by student teams, with Africa being the final filming location in the making of the documentary.

Each of the film teams had different assignments, with senior Daniel Kauten, junior Michelle Nyhoff, and Vern Eekhoff, a Dordt employee who’s taken several courses in digital media, assigned to film the work being done by Mathare Valley Outreach, led by Pastor Daniel and Magdeline Ogutu.

Mathare Valley Outreach provides orphaned or malnourished children in the slum with the support they need to attend primary and secondary school. Three primary schools in the slum offer feeding programs, school uniforms for students, and additional clothing. Successful students can continue to college with additional support offered. In this way Mathare Valley Outreach hopes to help those living in slums to become self-supporting.

This film team interviewed a young man named Dennis, who was an orphan rescued by Mathare Valley Outreach. He is currently in college training to become a primary school teacher, and wants to return to the slums and teach at the primary school where he grew up.

“When I walked into the slums, I was expecting to see a bunch of people who wanted out,” said Daniel Kauten. But that wasn’t what he saw. “They would Slum like to be able to eat every day and support their children, but most people call it home and don’t want to move.” He noted how powerful it was to observe those who are living in the slums praise God daily, despite their circumstances.

“Through our video project, we hope to help bring funding and awareness to this ministry, and break the cycle of poverty,” said Kauten. Their video will be shown to churches and people across North America and Europe.

Michelle Nyhoff noted, “Some days we would come back from filming with huge strides made, connections made, and stories heard. Other days we would be at a complete loss of where to even begin.” In her blog she notes, “How do I rationalize leaving half the food on my plate at a restaurant, when there’s an old man sitting atop a trash pile right outside sticking the remains of a plastic bag into his mouth?” While filming in the slum they saw eight-year-olds sniffing glue to overcome hunger, orphans with scabies, children with head lice, a toddler whose only toy is an empty alcohol bottle, and more.

“What is our role as Christians in such overwhelming circumstances?” asks Nyhoff. “How did Christ react to these realities? Isaiah 43 was a comfort throughout the trip as I wrestled with perspectives, culture, and feeling the Lord’s heartbeat as it breaks for His world.” She found the words of Fredreck Buechner helpful in sorting out her response to the trip: “The place where God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” She feels that as Americans and the body of Christ we have a responsibility to seek our Fathers heart and plan, and that His grace will be sufficient.

To see photos and video of the Dordt slum project underway, see www.slumdoc.com.

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