FILM: 3 Minutes Can Span a Lifetime for Students at Uganda’s Trinity Primary School
ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING: Q&A WITH WRITER/DIRECTOR RAY ZABLOCKI (NEW YORK/UGANDA)
What began in 1986 with six children gathered at a couple’s modest garage in a slum outside Kampala, Uganda, is now a top-ranked primary school offering quality education despite ongoing challenges. More important, Trinity Children’s Centre strives at placing hope within reach for thousands of impoverished youth.
Across the globe, Philadelphia-based charity ECHOES Around the World supports the efforts of Sarah and David “Romans” Serunjogi _ raising funds that pay for teacher salaries, school supplies, uniforms, meals, expansion and a scholarship program. In the following interview, New York City filmmaker Ray Zablocki shares his experience working to bring this special story to light as creative director for Deahla.
Running a little more than 3 minutes, the short film illustrates how invaluable lessons reach beyond the classroom and span a lifetime. “I saw children playing; rolling a crumbling tire barefoot in streets with garbage and waste all over,” Zablocki tells Tania Fuentez Media. “They were having so much fun, but that’s the sad part, that is what fun is for them. Of course, everything is relative, but their stories, and that environment makes you stop for a moment and consider what is truly important and real. We have it so good, and seeing a story like this can really put things in perspective.”
NOTE: Want to find out how you can make a difference? Visit Deahla and Echoes Foundation for details.
TFM: What does this film mean to you?
RZ: Trinity is a story of strength and hope. Regardless of donations or resources, the founders and teachers are inspired by teaching and giving these kids a chance. They have such a passion for what they do, they keep pushing forward as much as possible. It’s this drive and true desire to change lives that really moved me.
TFM: And, why is it important to tell this particular story?
RZ: Stories like this are important because we need to be reminded that there are still people in this world who have no semblance of what it means to live happy and healthy lives. I saw children playing; rolling a crumbling tire barefoot in streets with garbage and waste all over. They were having so much fun, but that’s the sad part, that is what fun is for them. Of course, everything is relative, but their stories, and that environment makes you stop for a moment and consider what is truly important and real. We have it so good, and seeing a story like this can really put things in perspective.
TFM: How did this opportunity come to be?
RZ: I was approached by Deahla‘s founder, Lindsay Holmwood, in 2012. She asked me to create the first film that would launch with the company, while also establishing a baseline for the storytelling and production quality of Deahla’s films in the future. No pressure, right? After I saw how much time and energy Lindsay put into building this platform for helping people, I was totally convinced it was a worthy cause, and I’d help her out as best I could.
TFM: How long did it take to produce the film and who inspired it?
RZ: We finally set out in March 2013 and lived in a Ugandan slum outside of Kampala. We had very limited resources and I had to call in many favors. Luckily, the team that stepped forward was truly amazing, especially Kevin Schaefer, the director of photography. We had worked together for years on various projects in New York, and then, all of a sudden there we were sleeping under mosquito nets, eating posho with matoke, and trying not to get dengue fever during landscape-changing downpours.
I could go on about everything I saw, but what stood out the most for me was the spirit of the Ugandan people. It’s that type of optimism, and push to overcome whatever the universe throws at you, that usually takes years for people to foster, and grow within themselves. And right in front of us were all these people immediately having to develop it to survive day by day. It was a truly humbling experience that I am grateful to Lindsay and Deahla for allowing me to partake in.
Trinity Children’s Centre/Deahla: http://www.deahla.com/
Echoes Foundation: http://www.echoesfoundation.org/