So where do we find proof that our educational films about diverse wildlife and environmental issues really do have resonance with our audiences, really do touch adults and children alike, really do make a lasting impression? Yes, there are surveys that confirm this statistically… But you really get a palpable sense of this when you watch our audiences as they watch our films. You can see it in their eyes and faces as they sit mesmerized by the images on screen, you can feel it in their excited discussions, based on their newfound knowledge, as the final shot fades into darkness…this is living proof of what our films can do.
Recently, we sent two sets of films to southern Tanzania; one set to the Iringa International School, the other to a conservation organization called Friends of Ruaha (FORS), who do an amazing job in and around the Ruaha ecosystem.
FORS use our films as educational tools which complement their own work. This is a good example of how our films can help other conservation organizations, by laying a foundation of knowledge and understanding amongst a wide range of people (both children and adults), which by enabling greater understanding of the issues and illustrating how people can benefit by adopting conservation initiatives, garners greater support for conservation projects.
But, enough from me - I would like to direct you to an account written by Alexander Klose in his blog. Alexander is a teacher at the Iringa International School, and his wife Anette works with Friends of Ruaha. Alexander’s account paints a vivid picture of the scene during a film showing to 300 people in a very remote rural corner of Tanzania, where there is no electricity, no TV, and where many of the people, though living close to the Ruaha National Park, have never seen a lion or an elephant…
If you don’t have time to read the whole account, please just take a look at these few paragraphs, quoted from Alexander’s blog, which I think, speak for themselves:
The projector, laptop and speakers were hooked up to the battery of the FORS Land Rover, and the screen was the side of a whitewashed, thatch-roofed building. Three hundred or so people encircled the screen, children sitting on the ground in front, an elderly man in a white robe and white kofia [hat] given a chair of honor at the front of the crowd, the rest standing.
Our Tanzanian colleague stood up in front of the crowd to say “karibuni” [welcome] and to explain that the film shows are a part of FORS’ environmental education program - more than just an evening of entertainment. We showed two films in Kiswahili produced by the African Environmental Film Foundation, the first about the elephants of Kenya’s Tsavo National Park and the second about the recent drying of the Great Ruaha River. For people who’ve grown up without electricity, TV and movies, it was a spellbinding two hours, and for us, it was a joy to stand there with them and share in their reactions to the films.
“EEH, EEH, EEH!” uttered the villagers each time they saw a lion, hyena, buffalo, hippo or crocodile. “TSSSCH” a collective sucking of teeth signaled their disapproval whenever slain elephants appeared on the screen. “EEEEEEH!” a cry of amazement upon seeing the thousands of tusks collected by park rangers.
One of our teacher friends asked me, “Is there still poaching in Ruaha National Park?” Another asked me, “Do you have elephants in America?” A little girl in front of us exclaimed, “All the fish are DEAD…no good.” A man to our left saw the river sweep away earth and grass from the banks and said, “Erosion. Hmm.”
Contagious bursts of laughter accompanied scenes of a baby elephant being covered with a blanket by its keeper, an orange-headed agama lizard hopping bravely across rocks in the river, storks and herons stealing fish from the crocodiles. In such moments, the power of these film shows was evident.
Although these people live on the border of Ruaha, many of them have never had a chance to visit the park and see these animals. Whenever the smallest children saw a lion on the screen, they grabbed each other and pointed at the screen while saying excitedly, “Simba, Simba!”
Read more Testimonials about the usefulness, effects and impact of AEFF’s educational films…