My name is Oliver Reynolds and a few years back I helped out a couple of times at Slum Cinema. The first time in Amsterdam in the HQ and then about a year later I went to the field in Kampala (Uganda) where I met great people and worked on several short news reports on the living conditions in the slums. My visit with former reporter Ismael Asiimwe to Bwaise slum will stay with me for a longtime. The houses were regularly flooded, babies were sleeping on beds set up on stacks of bricks to escape the water and the houses were slowly sinking into the unstable ground. Puddles were full of mosquito eggs, kids played around in the garbage-littered mud or in the overflowing sewage water. A father, a strong man in his forties called Sam was interviewed by Ismael. His house was damaged by the flooding and he was scared for his children's safety. At the end, thinking I might be some kind of medical volunteer, he asked if he could show me his leg. His leg was swollen, the color had faded to a greenish-grey color. He asked me what he should do, what would happen to him. I never felt so helpless in my life, I told him he really needed to see a doctor, knowing very well that either he would and probably would have his leg removed or he wouldn't and the infection would spread up. I think that experience really got me thinking about what I wanted to do with my life and has shaped some of my choices.
Now I'm carrying out a new project. With my friends Lucas & Cyrielle (right and center on the picture) we are spending 1 year working with social entrepreneurs in Asia, Africa and South America.We are a team trained in social impact assessments by French NGO Planète d'Entrepreneurs (which is currently changing its name to "(Im)prove"). We work directly for social entrepreneurs, NGOs or we are mandated by large corporations for specific social projects to carry these assessments and give our recommendations on how to maximize the social impact or improve their organization.
We started off in India in August working for a project called wPower financed by USAID and implemented by the Indian social organization SSP. The wPower program trains rural women to be entrepreneurs and retail clean energy products such as solar lamps or clean cookstoves which greatly improve the lives of rural communities. The video will give you more details on this project. For this mission we were based in Latur, Maharashtra, a small town - by Indian standards - and often traveled to the villages to meet the women and understand the changes the program brought to their lives.
Now we have just started our second mission in Phnom Penh (Cambodia). We are working with social business SGFE (Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprise) which produces charbriquettes. Charbriquettes are an alternative to classic charcoal made out of coconut shell and char residues. This product is safer, more efficient and doesn't promote illegal logging. The business hires beneficiaries of a local NGO called PSE (Pour un Sourire d'Enfant). These men and women were originally waste pickers, among the poorest families in Cambodia living on the dumpsites in some of the worst kinds of slums and sorting and cleaning waste for a living. Through SGFE these people gain a better livelihood, more stability and put their children in school. Over the next 5 weeks we will be interviewing the workers and their children, SGFE's regular customers and some key experts to assess the copany's social impact.
In January we will head to Africa for 3 missions in a row:
- Madagascar in January working for a social business producing affordable clean toilets for poor households in the country
- Burkina Faso in February working for a social business producing soymeal and soy oil
- Senegal in March to work for a social business producing affordable refrigeration solutions for fishermen communities to preserve their produce
From now on I will try to keep slumcinema.tv updated on our missions as we go along! Next time I'll give you more details on how our mission went in Phnom Penh!