Metropolis likes to show the world from all perspectives. One of our seasoned reporters is Carren Otieno, a correspondent from Kisumu in Kenya. Since 2009, she has enriched us with her original and heartfelt stories.

"In 2009 I was studying at Radio Nederland for three monts, on a scholarship," Carren tells us all the way from Kenya. "One day someone came and introduced Metropolis to us. He showed us some reports and asked if we wanted to become part of Metropolis. I loved the idea from the start, and that is how I got involved."

What kind of work do you do next to Metropolis?

"At the moment, I teach and give training at the Deutsche Welle Akademie. I teach journalist skills to small and medium-sized radio stations and media houses. We teach them how to report on certain issues, such as gender and human rights. We teach virtually because the radio stations and media houses are all over Kenya.

Besides that, I also work for the government, I manage their communication. I am like a bridge between the government and the rest of the people. Because of course, it is very important that the government can communicate to the people and that vice versa questions that the people might have, also reach the government."

Which story that you found for Metropolis really sticked with you?

"One time I filmed an eighty-year-old tailor. The thing was that he stammered. It was very difficult for him to tell his story to me because of that, and it took a long time; I stayed with him from 6 in the morning until after dark. He got very frustrated because of the stammering, but in the end, he did manage. He was such a funny old man, and he just made me happy."

Interview continues below the video.

"Another story which made a big impression on me was about a woman who was collecting human poop as her job. She earned almost nothing with it, only a shilling per bag, which added up to about 2,50 euro a day. This made me feel very sad. She had an impact on me, because she was such a happy woman, despite her job. Together with a couple of friends, we put together money for her in order for her to be able to start a business. She told us what kind of business she would like to have and we set it up for her. She is still a friend of mine today."

Interview continues below the video.

How do you find your stories? 

"To find good stories, it is really important to have a great network of people. And you have to be all over the place, I am always on the lookout for new stories. You have to keep your ears and eyes open all the time, and you will find stories everywhere. Sometimes I find stories on tv, on social media such as Facebook or TikTok or just by asking around. Like the time I had to find a story related to masturbation, it was really weird but I just asked people on my WhatsApp if they knew someone who was addicted to masturbation.

I love the process of filming. It is usually very interesting and can also be challenging. For example, the protagonist can sometimes be unreliable or dishonest. This can mean that I suddenly have to find a new story. Additionally getting to certain places can also be challenging. I remember being stuck on a muddy road and another time having to sleep out in the open air because there was no hotel or anything. It’s challenging, but fun!

Sometimes, you have to deal with the whole community, not just your protagonist. Like when I went to film with the Turkana. They value communal living and do everything together, eating together and other daily routines, so I had to be part of that, too. Another time, a story moved me so much; I had to hide my tears in the dark, so the protagonist didn't see that I was crying."

What do you like so much about working for Metropolis?

"What I love about this job is the weirdness of it. Metropolis is different, open and welcoming. African societies are quite closed-in. Many topics like sexuality are taboo. For example, you would never see something about masturbation on Kenyan tv. 

Furthermore, I like the fact that I meet lots of new people while traveling. Traveling makes you change your mind because it introduces you to new things. I make many new friends because of my job. It is a pity not every story makes it to Metropolis. There are so many stories to be told, but of course I understand that there are limits."

Correspondent Carren

What story would you love to produce in the future?

"My dream is to make a full documentary about someone who is terminally ill. I could follow the person's life and the preparation for death. I want to see and show others what they go through. For example, what kind of emotions do they feel while approaching death? So that is a topic that I find intriguing."

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