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Kenya video posted!

6 Sep

Well, I’ve finally gotten around to posting the video Kathryn and I shot and produced in the slums of Mathare, in Kenya. It’s been almost done for a long time, but I kind of went on a mini vacation while I was in Arkansas after returning from Africa, so it’s taken me until now to make those last tiny tweaks. But now it’s up and I hope you all check it out! And let me know what you think!

You can see it on my Vimeo page, here. Yaaay!



Lions and Leopards and Cheetahs

17 Jul

Oh my!

So today was mine and Kathryn’s last day here in Nairobi, and we decided to try and do at least a little bit of touristy stuff before we left. This morning we got up and bid goodbye to our favorite breakfast place here, The Java House (one of the few places you can get real ground coffee instead of instant), and headed back to the slums to capture a few more shots. Then we came back and went to Nairobi National Park to see some critters!

The park was Kenya’s first national park and is a wildlife refuge located only a few meters outside the center of the city. There’s merely a fence separating the wildlife from the metropolis and skyscrapers can be seen from some areas of the park. It’s a pretty big area, made up of approximately 29,000 acres, so you usually have to rent a car to take you through the park to see the wildlife. We didn’t really have that kind of time or money, so we decided to go to the animal orphanage.

Almost immediately after walking in, we were moseying over to the cheetah enclosure, when this guy sidles up to us.
He goes, “Do you like the cheetahs?”
Us: “Yeah, we love the cheetahs, they’re beautiful.”
Him: “What would you say if I told you that you could hold a baby cheetah?”
Us: “We’d love to hold a baby cheetah. I mean, duh.”
Him: “Okay. You just follow that path around to the left. When no one is around, the guys back there by the ostrich will let you in to see the cheetahs. You maybe give them some money. 1,500 shillings (the equivalent of about 15 dollars). Is it okay?”
Us: “Errrmmm…”

So basically, because we were white girls who they knew had money, these dudes totally snuck us into this building out back where there were “baby” cheetahs. Except baby to this guy meant 4 months old, at which point these cheetahs are big enough and feisty enough to do some serious damage. They came running out of their cage and one immediately jumped on my leg, where he proceeded to attack my purse with some giant claws and teeth. Fortunately, it wasn’t my skin. So then our Kenyan friend scoops one of them up with its legs all folded underneath, and plops it into my arms. Kathryn and I took turns holding a none-too-happy cheetah, and trying to take some photos. Except we look a bit terrified in all of them. Welcome to Kenya.

megan and cheetah

This cheetah is not interested in being my friend.

From Athens to Africa

16 Jul

I finally have a bit of time to sit down and write a blog post, and now I have no idea where to even begin. Also, Shannon is in Lesotho with basically no internet, so I’ll have to try and cover everything solo. Lets see…

Athens was great, even if it was completely crazy. We were going, going, going non-stop from the moment we hit the ground, for the most part. It was tiring and at times completely frustrating, having to work with such a large group of people and try to coordinate with everyone, etc. But it all felt totally worth it for me when I got to see my Ecuador team receive their gold medals (Go Ecuador!) and when I got to sit with the Haiti kids on the last night, during Closing Ceremonies. Two wonderful memories that I cherish. I miss them all so much! And I know Shannon was so excited to be reunited with Donghan, her subject from Korea. He competed in the very first Open Water swimming event and took home a silver medal! And he was really excited to see Shannon, even though he is usually shy and reserved. Super heart warming!

On a less upbeat note, while we were there, the protests that have been going on since May 5, 2010 came to a head and violence erupted in the streets after the June 29 passage of another round of austerity measures. The police attempted to evacuate key protest areas in Athens, like Syntagma Square, with motorbikes and heavy amounts of tear gas. There were numerous accusations of police brutality and unwarranted attacks on citizens there. So like any good journalist, we picked up our cameras and headed to the Square, which was only about 10 minutes from our hotel. It was my first experience with such a charged, potentially dangerous environment and its one I’m still ruminating on. I’ll be writing a separate post about it soon enough, and I’ve already posted my photos on my Flickr page. Shannon also has some kickin footage from the event, which I’m sure will be put up at some point for your viewing pleasure.

After protests and running all over Athens trying to cover every event, we were completely exhausted by the time we left for South Africa, but I still found myself not wanting to say goodbye to Athens. It’s so lovely there, and it’s just a more relaxing lifestyle, with more emphasis on enjoying and savoring life and friends and family. I found myself getting by most of the time on the kindness of strangers, like the cab driver who had to stop twice for directions to the venue I was trying to get to. He spoke zero English, but kept reassuring me that we would find it, and when I finally got there and forgot my map, he came back and flagged me down to give it to me, smile and wish me a good day. I had a policeman give me his seat as I waited for my ride, and every single Special Olympics volunteer I asked for directions was overwhelmingly nice, oftentimes walking me to where I needed to be or offering to carry some of my gear. Those Greeks sure are nice. I miss them.

But we had to say goodbye and we headed off to South Africa, arriving during the South African Arts Festival, which is kind of huge apparently. We had four days to just relax and enjoy some of the festival, and try to collect ourselves before jetting off again. We saw some cool shows, like this South African dance-off thing that was incredible, some traditional Rajasthan dancing and music (made me miss India), some South African jazz, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. I had no idea who they were, but they are a Grammy-winning all male choral group that sings traditional South African music and apparently, they are a big deal. Like, really big deal. Go read that wikipedia link, it will tell you all about them.

And then we all packed our bags and headed out to shoot our individual stories. Shannon and Brian are doing a story about AIDS orphans in Lesotho and Kathryn and I are filming a story in Nairobi, Kenya about poverty and hunger in the slums of Mathare! I’ll be doing a separate post about Kenya soon and I know Shannon wants to blog about her experiences in Lesotho as well, so more details will be coming soon! In the meantime, here’s some World Games/Athens photos for you to check out. Hooray!


Safely in South Africa

8 Jul

Not much time to update, as the internet here is very spotty, but we are safely in South Africa! We loved Athens and are missing it very much, but we are having a great time in South Africa. We are here during the middle of the South African Arts Festival, so we are getting to see some great shows and hear some awesome music and whatnot. And the best part is we don’t have to shoot anything! We can just decompress, after running around like crazy for the past 10 days!

On Sunday we all leave to go on our respective assignments, so Shannon will be headed to Lesotho and I’ll be headed to Kenya. So we probably won’t be able to update for a while, but after we get back we’ll try to post a brief summary of our trips.

In the meantime, there were some major protests in Athens on June 29, when the Greek legislature passed an austerity measure that will greatly reduce the benefits of many citizens. Things were crazy and police were everywhere and telling people to stay away from the center of the city, where the protests were. So naturally, we picked up our cameras and went. I’ll try to blog soon about what we saw and what happend, but right now, here’s some pics I snapped. And Shannon got some great footage of it, which will be available to view at some point, when we aren’t rushing around from country to country. Photos are here:

More to come later!

Hello from Athens!

26 Jun

Hey there all!

We’re here and loving Greece! It’s beautiful here and the food is great, the people are wonderful and our Special Olympics events are full of stress and sweat and joy. 🙂

Last night we shot the Opening Ceremonies, which was unbelievable. We were able to film the Athletes Parade, where all the teams march into the stadium. It takes about two hours for all the countries to walk in, so it was quite an event, but it was so much fun! Everyone was so excited and you could just feel the energy every time a new team came out. And we got to see our friends from Haiti, Ecuador and Korea! In fact, Shannon’s Korea subject, Dong Han, got to carry the torch on its journey around the stadium before the final torch, the Flame of Hope, was lit. And speaking of the stadium, the ceremony was held in Panathinaiko Stadium, which was built way back in 566 BC, and was the site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. You can read more about it and see photos here, but basically, it’s a huge deal to have been able to even go there, much less to walk around with a camera inside the stadium!

So now that the games are kicking off, we’ll be crazy busy, filming events and medal ceremonies and everything in between. We’ll try to keep you updated, and maybe post some videos or something when we get them finished! We haven’t had time to walk around much and take photos, but here’s a few silly moments from our first few days…


Going to Greece!

22 Jun

Longest time between updates ever, I know. Things kind of went haywire after Haiti, with finals and projects and scrambling, scrambling, scrambling. A lot happened between then and now, but basically the short version is we moved into a new place, which we love love love so much more, we worked on a lot of video projects, we passed all our classes in the spring and we just finished our last round of classes for the summer! Which means we are both officially done with college classes FOREVER! AAAAAHHHHH!!!

I feel like my family is reading that line and going “We never thought this day would come!” Whatever guys. Don’t push it, or I’ll go for a PhD!

Anyways, at some point I will get around to posting Haiti pics, because Shannon got some really great ones and we would love to share them with you. Eventually. But that’s not going to happen right now, because we are about to get on a plane to Greece!

We leave in a few hours headed to Athens to cover the Special Olympics World Games, and we are SO EXCITED. We get to see all our subjects from our previous stories and watch them compete and see people like Stevie Wonder! Then when the games are over, we are traveling to Africa to do stories on the United Nations Millenium Development Goals. The MDGs consist of 8 anti-poverty goals meant to be completed by 2015. They include:
Ending Poverty and Hunger
Universal Education
Gender Equality
Child Health
Maternal Health
Environmental Sustainability
Global partnership

The class above us already did some stories on these goals last year, which you can check out here:  (you have to click on the stories button in the top right corner)

We will be adding to that group of stories. We will be in South Africa most of the time, but will travel out in teams to surrounding countries to do the stories. Shannon and Brian will be working on a story about AIDS orphans in Lesotho, I will be working with Kathryn on a story about farming in the slums of Kenya and our friend Chris will be doing a followup story to the piece on the website I mentioned about the largest slum in Nigeria. It’s going to be really exciting!

I’d like to promise that we will update often and write amazing blog posts about everything going on and post lots of pictures and whatnot, but we will probably be really busy and whenever we do have spare time, I doubt we will want to spend it in front of a computer. But we’ll update as much as we can, even if it’s just a short post or a photo.

In the meantime, Shannon and I both posted some new videos on our Vimeo accounts, so you can go check them out! Mine can be seen here: and Shannon’s can be seen here: Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!


In Haiti!

12 Apr

We’re here! We got to Port Au Prince and true to all we had heard, the airport was probably the most frightening part. After that, it was smooth sailing. We met our contact here, Evan, and he is just wonderful. We have a schedule all mapped out for our next three days and we’re excited to meet the athletes. Our hotel is lovely and basically, we are loving it so far.

We’ll try to update as we go and publish some pics as well, but the internet here is terribly spotty, so don’t let your anticipation get the best of you…

Megan and Shannon