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Shifting Ground

Feature Documentary | UK & Kenya | In Production


Three women. Three directors. One vision of hope.


Shifting Ground takes a cross-generational look at what it means to be a woman in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum. Being one of the most overpopulated places on earth, Kibera is riddled with poverty, disease and violence against women. It has become a toxic trap for its nearly 1 million occupants who seek a better life than what the countryside has to offer. Before we traveled there, our research revealed some horrifying statistics: The majority of Kiberan women are sexually assaulted by the time they are 12 years old and more than half are trading food for sex by the age of 16. As a result, young women in Kibera contract HIV at a rate 5 times higher than that of their male counterparts. Only 8% of girls ever get the chance to go to school. But what did these statistics mean on a human level for these women? Did life in Kibera leave them any room for hope?

We decided to explore these questions through the stories of three women – each told by a different director. 10 year-old Makesh escapes an abusive home to live in the safe house of her school. Doreen, a teenage mom, finds strength to beat the odds when her boyfriend abandoned her. Jennifer, an HIV-positive woman raises her own children and those of her husband’s three deceased wives who lost their life from AIDS. By bringing these stories together in one film, we give viewers a glimpse of the past, present and future of Kibera.

This slice-of-life film goes behind the statistics and offers a raw, multifaceted and vivid female perspective of Kibera. In the end, what surprised us most was not the extreme adversity that Kiberan women endure, but the courage, love and sacrifice they show in the face of it. Is this amazing strength enough for any of these women to break the cycles of poverty that plague their community?

Stills photography by Deanne Fitzmaurice.