Facebook Connectivity and VAST joined forces to provide the opportunity of free access to the internet for the people of Katlehong and Diepsloot. What a fantastic venture to give these communities a chance for the betterment of their livelihoods!
Through this initiative they installed WIFI hotspots in various communal spaces where there would be easy access for people to congregate and connect. These areas included schools, community centres and localised areas of trade.
A year later we set out to see if and how this connectivity had affected the people in these communities. Our aim was to find authentic stories without ever needing to force or romanticise the project. We visited these hotspots – and with a focused intention – the characters featured in the film almost presented themselves to us and their stories along with it. And what an enlightening discovery it was.
The internet to you and I has evolved drastically over the course of its existence. Connectivity to me is work, play, on my phone, in my TV and now even in my speakers. While there’s a massive push to have everything working on a wireless grid (online) today, the sad but true reality is that as the world moves ahead these characters were being left behind.
Connecting with these characters gave us great insight into this difference and at the same time reassured us of the fantastic opportunity they now have. It was important for me to explore their stories not just as sound bites but by giving the viewer a deeper understanding of each characters life and community. We explore Sanele, a student living in Katlehong who one day wants to become a commercial pilot and Siya, an entrepreneur nearby selling chicken dust. We also met Ayanda who runs a podcast tackling ‘Black Mental Health and Wellness’ and then a single mom, Constance, who’s trying to up-skill herself so she can provide for herself and her extended family. Each of the characters had a specific voice and it was important for them to be heard.