Once the details were worked out, my Boston based colleague Terence and I headed to Uganda on New Years Day 2016. Of course, we conducted necessary research, as we do with all of our films. Terence is a lawyer, a critical thinker, and brilliant writer. He has a photographic memory that can absorb volumes of information. The guy is MENSA smart. As a long time humanitarian, he has a sensitive nature, wonderful interpersonal and communication skills, easily fitting in wherever he lands. He and I have worked together for a number years and I respect him. I was grateful to have Terence along for the 6-week assignment.
Over the next several weeks, Terence, I and our Ugandan crew (Em and Ronald) worked long days and nights to document the work of Oysters & Pearls. Both of us were truly amazed at what Sandra, her Ugandan team and a cadre of volunteers have accomplished in such a short time. In a nutshell, O&P does far more than provide educational tools and training to the blind and disabled. They also train teachers, offer technical training (STEM) to the sighted, advocate on behalf of girls and women in education and sports as well as promoting wildlife conservation. All of this occurs within a boarding school structure where high school students and teachers from all over Uganda attend an O&P Tech Camp for several weeks in January.
In the US, the disabled are treated with care and dignity. In Uganda, it is quite a different story. The organization is working to change the perception that the disabled are a burden to society. O&P has made it possible for visually impaired students, as well as the sighted to learn basic computer skills, coding, robotics, engineering, gaming, VR technology and sound design-and that’s just the start! At the end of the camp, the students present their team projects to the community and their parents. All are amazed at what their children have accomplished in such a short time. This does not surprise Sandra as she knows the talent and drive has always been there.
The world premiere of PATHBREAKERS is scheduled for the end of June and will be screened at The African Film Festival in Dallas, Texas.