Thursday, March 1, 2012

Love


There’s this thing that happens when someone says, “I love you”. 

I know because I was blessed to hear this phrase spoken over me countless times throughout my life.

I heard the words from my dad, everyday without fail.  He even apologized once for maybe saying, “I love you” too frequently.

When I work with my students here in Kayamandi, this has become the one thing that I want them to remember above all other things, unconditional love exits. 

So I strive each day to make love the defining characteristic of my life, because I know that so many of my students have never heard the words of love from their own parents.

And then the transition comes – when students move into “manhood” – a culturally significant time where the men leave the childish things behind and step into a role of provider.

It’s a tricky time for me, continuing to show how much I love them, but also stepping back so that I respect their cultural tradition.

But I have to admit how much I love it when people (all people) put aside their culture and act in love. 

Isn’t that what Jesus did when he spoke with the woman at the well? 

His culture dictated that he not even speak with her, and here he is offering her living water.  

Don’t you just love that?!

Today when I was messaging online with a student, a recent addition to the man club, he beat me to the punch.

“I love you sisKatie”.

Appreciation and respect entangled in this phrase that so often I’m the first to utter.

What a counter cultural gift, wrapped in an instant message package!

Thanks for your continued support of Film School Africa – I sure do love you,

Katie Taylor

To see a short video about our newest group of Level One students click here.  And to financially support Film School Africa click here or go to threadsafrica.org.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Level 1 Students

I’m always amazed when a new batch of students blows through the door.

At the end of each year we celebrate the students with a red carpet film festival—and I think to myself, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”

Then a student like Gasthon Lewis walks through the door.

Gasthon is not from Kayamandi, he lives 20 minutes drive in a place called the Strand.  His community is similar to Kayamandi—in that poverty and crime are rampant—but Gasthon is by South African definition “colored”.

It’s a strange world where you learn to classify people in such ways—but what it means is that Gasthon speaks Afrikaans and is not from a black tribe like the rest of the new Level One students.

He came to Film School Africa through a friend when Gasthon had attempted a short film in his community, and our common friend knew that I’d be able to point him toward success.

At his interview I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I’m here for young people like Gasthon!

Guys who have the passion and the desire, but lack the tools and training.

A young man who once struggled with drugs and gangs, but now desires to use film in youth ministry.

In the interview he asked me a question that tied our fates together, “Can you come and teach in my community?  My community has never had anything like Film School Africaand people are asking me how can they do this too.”

I told him that we’d do one better—he’s going to be equipped to teach in his community—and I’m going to stand behind him as we continue to touch the lives of students through the power of storytelling.

Please pray for these 12 new students that have entered Level One—for the 5 more that continue onto Level Two—for the 2 students that are running the race in Level Three—and the 2 students that we sent off to City Varsity to spend 3 years in the directing program.

We’re making large strides here thanks to the generosity of people like you—but we’re far from knowing how all the funding is going to come together—but like Gasthon we move forward in faith…together.

Katie Taylor

To support Gasthon and other students like him, donate at threadsafrica.org
"You could start as a second-year student."

We turned and looked at each other—stunned.

You see, Odwa never thought he'd be able to attend school again. Having dropped out at grade 10—so his sister could continue her education—Odwa thought his hopes and dreams of going to school were just that—hopes and dreams.

Never a reality.

But when we sat in the admissions office of City Varsity, a media school in Cape Town, they clearly indicated that the education Odwa had received at Film School Africa was enough to allow them to accept him and he could skip the entire first year.

We were stunned for the moment, and then the reality settled in.

We were thrilled that they thought so much of Odwa's gifts and talents and passion for film—not to mention his desire to return to his community so he could teach others—that they were accepting into the program and crediting him with a year of study.

So if you were stunned and thrilled with those initial comments, can you imagine what we were feeling when they indicated they were giving him a full ride scholarship?

But then the other shoe dropped. (There's always another shoe.) They explained that they had seen it happen many times before—that if Odwa was going to be a successful student, he would need to live in an apartment near campus. Students who early in the morning took the train to school, only to return home to the township late each night, rarely made the necessary grades and quickly washed out of the program.

And at this juncture, the negotiations began.

City Varsity made it known that they were willing to accept Odwa into the program, provide him with a tuition scholarship, and invest heavily in his success as a student. But they had one question.

Would Film School Africa be willing to participate and make it possible for him to live in an apartment near campus?

Now, this is a student I really believe has the talent, ability, and desire to succeed and make a difference in his world. He will thrive in this educational setting and will be forever changed by his experience—much like I was at Taylor University in Indiana.

So this is my question. Will you join City Varsity, and Film School Africa, and me in our commitment to Odwa, and students like him?

Here is the reality. Your monthly or one time gift can make a huge difference in the life of Odwa and others like him. In many ways it sounds too simple to be true, but film is making a significant difference in the lives of Film School Africa students.

Odwa's is a great story. And it is just beginning to unfold.

And this is just the start for so many others. In fact, I have been privileged to witness so many success stories this year. And I'm encouraged by the path that we're taking and the impact that is being had on the lives of African young people.

It's like my younger sister Nana said, "These guys, (Odwa and Ayanda) they never would have known that this is what they wanted, and now their whole lives are changed."

It's true.

Together we continue to shape and change the direction of young lives.

From alcoholism to editing. Thievery to camera work. Lives of hopelessness to lives that glorify God through the art of storytelling.

Pretty exciting stuff!

Film School Africa is about shaping a generation of Africans.

But for this to continue to take place, your prayers and financial support are essential. Whatever your gift might be, $100, $200, maybe even so much more, it will be used to change lives for Christ and revolutionize the way young people think and work.


Katie Taylor
Film School Africa


For giving online go to www.threadsafrica.org. Your monthly or onetime gift will be deeply appreciated. We're going to make sure that Odwa has the opportunity to go to school so he can impact his world.

Friday, January 27, 2012

I've settled on a verse that I feel will be the Film School Africa banner - it comes from The Message: Romans 5:2-5


We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.  We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand--out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.


There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patiences in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.


In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

First the Great News—
  • God is so incredibly Good—you already know that!
  • Our first group of Level Two film students are about to graduate—you might have guessed that.
  • Odwa Nomavuka and Ayanda Msebenzi, have been accepted into a degree program in film with full tuition scholarships—now that’s really exciting!
  • And next year the program will expand to include a new Level Three (two students)—nobody knew that (till now).
And now for the Challenging News—
  • The largest monthly contributor to Film School Africa must significantly scale back her giving this next year—now that’s going to be a challenge.
  • It will be necessary to secure funding for Odwa and Ayanda to live near campus—I don’t have an exact figure yet but I’m guessing that’s a $700 a month commitment.
  • The cameras and computers we have used day-in and day-out for the past four years are falling apart before our very eyes—surprise surprise!
  • To learn lighting techniques Level Three students (2) need a course that will cost nearly $1000 each—we don’t have the lighting kits or the $2,000.
By all standards this has been an incredibly amazing year.

God has performed numerous miracles in the hearts and lives of our students, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed and grateful for your prayers and support.

But as I anticipate an exciting future, I realize we won’t be able to get there without God’s blessings and your unwavering financial help.

So here goes. Will you consider a monthly donation for Film School Africa? Your one-time or ongoing monthly gift can’t be too small or too large. Click here to donate and designate your contribution.

And if you missed the video made for you by Film School Africa students last month – check it out here!

Thank you so much for your prayers and financial support. Together we’re using art to give life,

Katie Taylor

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Breakthroughs

As you well know, watching a breakthrough happen in someone’s life is one of life’s greatest rewards.

Recently one of my Kayamandi students was attacked. His attackers used guns to beat him on the head and face, leaving him with stitches and a face swollen beyond recognition.

When I went to visit him at his home, he embraced me in a way I could sense not only the pain of recent events, but the pain of losing his mother as well.

He needed a mom’s loving arms, and he got them from me.

While our time together was incredibly special, it wasn’t until a few weeks later I began to see the full impact of the film ministry.

You see—it was time for this young man to stand before the class and pitch his next film. He weaved a story about two friends who unknowingly run into the wrong kind of guys, he described how one of the men would be beaten and hospitalized, and how his friend would react and seek out the assailants.

It was beautiful because he was utilizing film to work through his trauma.

By using a camera and actors, he was put in a position of power to explain a situation in which he had no control.

While I thoroughly enjoy teaching students the art of film and equipping them to move into a career of storytelling, helping kids with their traumas is my most fulfilling work. And it’s the reason I reach out to friends like you for help.

Will you consider making a generous monthly commitment to Film School Africa so we can effectively use film to change lives?

You can give online by simply clicking on www.threadsafrica.org. Or you can secure the address where you can send your check. Just be sure to designate your gift to the film school.

If you’re not able to participate at this time, there are other ways you can help. Certainly your prayers are powerful and effective. And Film School Africa is blessed to have an American high school student, Stephen Linam, helping us with our numerous equipment needs.

Stephen is repairing and enhancing used mac computers and video cameras so that we can put them to use. We’re also gathering headphones, microphones and computer speakers. You can contact Stephen directly at macsforafrica@gmail.com if you have questions or would like to donate some equipment to the cause.

Thank you for all you do to support this ministry—I’m forever changed because of your generosity.

Katie Taylor

The students put together a video so that you could see the impact of your giving. You can watch it by clicking this link http://youtu.be/df99FSH-YUY