I decided that I would find a child to answer Howie's rephrased question: What would you do to get this country to move as one?
I felt that a young child would look at the 'issue' in a very different way and would simplify the answer by not bringing politics into it. Two days after my first trip to Kernahan
, I took a friend (Carol) along for company and went back to see if I could find a little girl in that village to answer the question. At one point, when we stopped to take photos of some waterlilies growing in a canal at the roadside, eager voices floated over to us from a little wooden house across the street: "Snap we! Snap we!"
It is here, on a verandah occupied by family members of different ages, that I found Kajal, the little girl who agreed to be interviewed. She and I went to the back of the house to talk while C stayed chatting with the adults on the verandah. The answers Kajal gave, whilst simple, are thought provoking in their own way. As C and I drove home later that day, I relayed what Kajal had said and, for most of the two hour drive back, we discussed her simple solution (and the new question she had posed) in the context of our own lives.
*(Conversation with Kajal, transcribed from dictaphone)Elspeth:
What's your name?Kajal:
How old are you?K:
Seven years oldE:
Are those your toys over there?K:
E: What games do you play with those toys?
K: Tea set.
E: Tea set?
E: Let’s go and see it.
(We walk across to the toys)
E: What are the different things?
K: I does play cooking.
E: What kinds of things you cook?
K: All kinda ting.
E: Okay, I'm going to ask you a question ... and if you don't understand the question you could ask me what it means, okay? What would you do to get this country to move as one? You understand that question?
E: What does it mean?
Read the full interview with Kajal here
Kajal's father (nicknamed Bobby) and other family members on the verandah. They were open and friendly, welcoming us in to their home. Bobby was quick to tell us that they need more water in their village ... and told us they need to get the information out to the papers.
(l to r): Kajal's father (Bobby), Uncle (Mex) and Kajal. Mex works with the Forestry Division and invited us to come back and bring friends, as we would be fascinated by all there is to see in the forest - monkeys, birds, how to cast net to catch cascadou, etc. The rest of the family agreed and advised us to walk with cameras to 'snap'.
Kernahan's landscape from a height.
At the end of my chat with Kajal, she wrote her own positive message on a Post It:
Some thoughts after Step #4:
1. The people I have been drawn to so far for this project generally do not have internet access. In some cases they cannot even read. In this respect, they are unfortunately excluded from this 'blog' stage of the project. The messages (generally) need to be transmitted in other ways as well.
2. After Step 4b (tomorrow) it may be necessary to step back, assimilate each 'Step' taken so far and look at the messages and lessons inherent in each before moving on. This will determine how and where to proceed.
3. I'm interested in seeing where Kajal's solution/question will take the project. On one hand, it could take us far away from the original question ... but, as my friend Carol said, it could take us closer to the answer.
To be continued tomorrow. Tune in for what the grown ups had to say (Step #4b).
N.B. Since Step #4 was Kajal's (and the next question comes from her), I will not be focusing on the conversation with the grownups - merely presenting a chunk of what was said. The full transcript is available, though, for anyone who wants to read it.