CNN’s African Voices Changemakers explores how music and movies can change lives

On this week’s African Voices Changemakers, CNN International met the people who are making music and movies accessible in places where they are normally out of reach.

In Kenya, Elizabeth Njoroge is using her background in classical music to give classical orchestra training to children in impoverished areas. Her initiative Ghetto Classics was founded 10 years ago on the belief that sheet music will help provide a blueprint for a better life. She talks about her project’s goals, “I teach music to young people, especially those from underprivileged areas, with the belief that music changes their lives and therefore their future.”

Ghetto Classics began in Korogocho, one of the largest and most dangerous slums in Nairobi, before expanding across Kenya. Njoroge talks about the numbers of children who typically attend classes across the country, “Every week when we are fully operational, we teach 1500 children music.”

The project is designed to be very inclusive and Njoroge tells the program that all children can participate, “Any child who walks in is welcome. And what you find is we become a family. Ghetto Classics is a family.”

One child who rehearses with Ghetto Classics is Fredrick Ondari. Ondari plays the violin, and Njoroge praises his commitment to the project, “Little Fredrick walks across that dumpsite, a 45-minute walk, if not longer, through that dangerous space to come and practice almost every day, the commitment he has and the passion.”

As well as providing a musical education, Ghetto Classics has been able to teach the children valuable life skills and keep them away from the more dangerous elements of their surroundings. Njoroge speaks about her hopes for the children in the project, “One of our goals, our big goal actually, is to create adults in the end. Young adults who are productive members of society who are able to overcome the great challenges of being here in Korogocho.”

Njoroge explains the positive message she hopes to give to children, “I keep telling them that you cannot change where you were born. But you can change where you’re going. That is up to you. And I hope that our program gives them that step to go to where they want to be.”

This week’s program also meets the changemakers behind Sunshine Cinema, a company that takes their mobile movie theatres to remote areas across South Africa.

Susan Levine, the director of the board at Sunshine Cinema, talks about the company’s approach, “Films can be taken into spaces that have no electricity, where there is limited access, rural areas, urban areas with weak infrastructures, it means that the body of films can actually hit the road, with facilitators and reach audiences that otherwise just wouldn’t have access to films.”