If you watched the HBO series the Wire, which was set in Baltimore and is considered quite realistic in its depiction of the issues going on in those streets, you won’t be surprised that kids in the poor neighbourhoods have a hard time growing up. There is a big chance that you will eventually be killed or locked up. One of the reasons this happens is that boys around 12 and 13 don’t do very well in school. What would happen if you take these boys out of their environment and really focus on them and give them the guidance they need? This is what the Baraka project did. Their new environment? Kenya, Africa.
It’s a big thing taking someone away from their home and family, but the idea behind the project is solid. These kids don’t have to worry about the dangers in their neighbourhood and can be what they are, boys. It’s clear that they are willing to change and they us about their goals and dreams. While they are in Baraka they can roam around and explore their surroundings, they are taught that there are other ways to deal with others and the school tries to bring out the best of them.
It’s a shame though that as you are watching this you never see how they end up. The project is stopped after tensions in Kenya rise and no real alternatives are offered to the boys and their parents. The boys return to a normal school and it seems that they go back to their old habits.
The documentary shows their experience in Africa, but there seemed to be too little in regards to results and the way the program handled specific situations. It was something I would have been interested in seeing, but was lacking. I don’t know if such a radical change of environment is needed to achieve the result this program was aiming for, but I do think that programs like the Baraka one should take place more to help kids without much of a future make it.