Time in: 9:00 AM
I went to the office to finalize my group’s plan to meet with Megan from Mabolo today. While waiting for Ms. Shane and Ms. Aida to finish the request letter for us to present to the school we need to visit, I did some editing on the documentary of Ashley, which still needed a lot of work then.
The morning also held a brief consultation with Ms. Shane on our video of Marissa, where she requested we make a correction in the subtitles, which we obligingly did so. Those of us interns who were there also took the time to discuss possible meeting times and deadlines for our final video documenting our experiences as Rise Above interns. We also were able to report to Ms. Shane about last Saturday’s event, as well as discussions on our final requirements.
As we finalized Marissa’s video according to Ms. Shane’s order, we were given the letter to present. At just around noon, we headed out for Mabolo National High School, which is where Megan is studying.
We didn’t go into the school upon arriving, but instead went straight ahead to the front of the police station nearby, which was, according to Ms. Aida, where Megan’s mother sets up a stand to sell snacks and a few drinks every afternoon.
We arrived there to find two women selling similar goods, and asked them about Megan’s mother, giving them her name. They knew her, telling us she sets up her stand right next to them, and that she usually came with her daughter, but that she hadn’t come yet.
We waited there, sitting beside the two women in front of the police, in the early afternoon July heat, right beside the main highway. At around 1:30, when neither Megan nor her mom had come, we decided to go into the school to see if Megan had come in.
We walked to the night department’s principal’s office, where we were welcomed and informed that Megan’s classes began at twelve, and that her free period would start at 3:45 PM, when they could call Megan in to meet us. With our meeting with Megan still a couple of hours away, we agreed to go into the SM mall, which was also a short walk away, so Phoebe could have her lunch as we wait for the time.
While in SM, we worked on the video featuring Ashley, where I put in the usual text and subtitles, and did a little trimming before we noticed it was only five minutes to our scheduled meeting time.
When we returned to the school, they told us Megan didn’t come in to school today. We were disappointed for a moment, until the lady attending to us added that she saw Megan beside the school selling at her mom’s usual post. We thanked the lady and then took our time to get a few B-roll clips of scenes in the school, climbing up a building and standing in the middle of their multipurpose courts, a crowd of students bustling around us with activity.
When we were satisfied, we proceeded to walk back out to the police station front by the school, asked the women from before about Megan, and confirmed that it was the little girl sat hunched over behind a small table covered in rows of packaged chips, cookies, and candy. Upon hearing her name, she looked and sat upright immediately, and we introduced ourselves.
We briefed her about our purpose and she reacted understandingly. Diving right into the interview, we asked her questions about her family, why she was the one selling and not her mother, why she was absent from school today, where her mother was, et cetera. Amidst all our questions, we had to take care that we didn’t too extensively interrupt the work she was focused on, and made sure she was able to attend to her customers while responding comfortably to our questions.
She had a small voice at first, but in time she seemed to open up more, volunteering information that provided more context and insight into her circumstances as we went on, the way many people who open up to strangers for the first time do.
There were the occasional challenges of filming and recording her in time so that the background sounds of passing vehicles weren’t too obtrusive, having to request passersby whose attention we caught with the filming to not talk loudly as we were interviewing, and to not crowd in around Megan’s little stall.
When most of the information and scenes we needed were acquired and shot, Grace filmed me for my part in our intern documentary. It didn’t take too long, and when we came back to sit by Megan’s stand, with the camera and recorder off, I asked Megan some filler questions that lingered in my mind during the recorded interview. She was opening up to me bit by bit and more each time, and during this we learned about impactful details we didn’t dig deeper into during the initial probings. These were things like how she sometimes spent the night in that space by the highway when she was too tired to go home, and how her parents never got married.
I talked to Megan like this for well near an hour, and the other two shot her telling those parts of her story to the camera in between pauses in the conversation. There was a lot to know about the young and her family, and I thought it was important that we see to it that the story is put together well.
I soon decided I was finished for the day. It was just a few minutes before six then, so I agreed with my group on when and where to meet tomorrow. Then, I went ahead of them, bidding Megan thanks and goodbye.
Sometimes there are days that really do seem like any other, but from early on you feel something nagging that it holds a turning point you didn’t necessarily expect. Megan is the last child assigned for us to cover, and she was honestly a joy to learn about.
Time out: 6:00 PM
Number of hours: Nine