Regardless of which educational philosophy you subscribe to, whether you think a Waldorf education best suits your child, or you homeschool, or send your child to a public school, I think we can all agree on the vital importance of learning in any number of various settings, and that all children should have the right to an education.
Worldwide, however, education is often viewed much more as a privilege than a necessity. Documentary filmmaker, actor, and activist Turk Pipkin has traveled the globe with The Nobelity Project, a non-profit with a unique working model: make award-winning feature films about global change and use the profits to build subsequent partner projects. Pipkin's work has taken him to dozens of countries on virtually every continent, but it’s hard to imagine him finding an emotional tie stronger than that to the remote Kenyan village where Building Hope was largely filmed. While primary school education became free and mandatory in Kenya in 2003, high school is decidedly not, and many Kenyans (especially girls) do not continue their education. Read on for my review of this inspiring documentary which details the journey to build a high school in Kenya.
Building Hope documents the arduous yet joyous process of building a beautiful, modern high school complete with a library and a computer lab and a rainwater basketball court in rural Africa. Along the journey to build the school, contractors disappear, construction costs run over budget, and unforeseen obstacles arise. Yet the spirit of the villagers and their commitment to the end goal have you rooting for the project, the schoolkids, and the village in general. This documentary definitely makes you think about what our educational system could be like if every parent and community member was invested so deeply in the education of our children.
While dealing with the serious business of educating children, the film maintains an infectiously hopeful vibe. I dare anyone to try not to smile while watching the scene in which the school children have their portraits taken. That scene and others demonstrate that regardless of where kids live in the world, they share a desire for an education as well as basic and varied hopes and dreams for the future. Building Hope also provides an on-the- ground look at the work non-profits and humanitarian agencies do while completing a project, from continuous fundraising from half a world away to addressing surprising side issues. For example, the documentary points out that cooks in many rural Kenyan schools often suffer from high incidence of blindness and smoke-induced lung disease as a result of the poorly ventilated kitchens in which they spend hours a day. Pipkin and crew deftly takes these issues in stride and rise to that and every challenge. Building Hope is inspiring for kids and any aspiring world changers! Schools can even request a free copy of the DVD. What will Pipkin and the Nobelity Project’s next venture be? We will definitely be watching to find out.