Watch part two

Stella Nyawira, a high school girl from Nairobi's notoriously poor slums, struggles to find peace within herself and her fractured country.

The Problem of Peace covers the 2007 Kenyan presidential election and its tragic aftermath through the eyes of the 19-year-old schoolgirl.

The violence has left more than 850 people dead, 300,000 displaced and an entire nation, once considered an African success story, brought to the brink of disaster.

What happened to Stella is symbolic of what has happened to Kenya, yet few media reports have delved into the grassroots, personal stories behind the political posturing.

The short film unfolds in real time, telling a story of loss and hope through powerful, gritty imagery, some of it shot by Stella herself.  

We follow Stella, who dreams of becoming a broadcaster, as she tries to piece together her life in a nation that is imploding around her.

Stella hides what happened to her, sneaking away for preventative HIV injections at the local clinic.

She also visits a refugee camp, where parentless children cling to her. She interviews elected women MPs, activists and leaders who are spearheading a women's movement to broker peace.

Through them and her schoolmates she gradually comes to terms with what has happened to her.

The film's director Ami Williams recalls working with Stella.

Amie and Stella
"I first met Stella Nyawira while researching for another film project with a group of teenage actors in one of Nairobi's worst slum neighbourhoods.

Notorious for its dumpsite, the size of 10 football fields, brutal gangs and crime rate, Dandora was a place I had to leave by sundown, my Kenyan friends used to warn me.
 
Yet the kids I met there were full of dreams, cheeky, alive. Stella was a member of a youth group called Ribcrackerz, a comedy theatre troupe. 

Without the help of any outside aid, church or government funding, they had come together to share a love of laughter and drama.

'Sadly symbolic'

When I was leaving to return to the US, Stella approached me with a shy smile, and handed me a dog-eared copy of a Kiswahili-English Dictionary as a parting gift.

Later, I opened the dictionary and inside was a simple letter, telling me her brother had been killed only two weeks earlier and that she was in need of school fees to finish her high school education and asking if I could help.

Little did I imagine that by becoming a small part of Stella's life, I would be hearing her tearful voice over the phone, three years later, telling me in hushed tones what had happened to her after Kenya's national presidential elections.

What happened to Stella is sadly symbolic of what occurred on a national level, catapulting Kenya into violence and insecurity after years of political stability.

Almost overnight, Africa's so-called success story, became a bitter battle ground.

The question left on many lips is how? How did this happen in a country with over five per cent economic growth? How did Stella's life, so beautiful and full of hope, become so tragically violated?

Surprisingly open

The thing about Stella is she is reserved, even shy at times, but not at all afraid to speak her mind when it matters.

More than 850 people died in
Kenya's political violence [GALLO/GETTY]
What is most remarkable is that she insists on speaking out about what happened to her at a time when many of the nation's leaders refuse to talk openly about what happened during and after the elections.

While most of the world expressed shock, grief, and horror, girls like Stella have already lived lives of unspeakable horror just because they were born poor.

She has already been mugged numerous times, known the violence of an empty stomach and personally witnessed her brother's brutal murder.

But her love for Kenya is palpable, her hope for a better future real. She refuses to become a victim in a world that would otherwise forget her.

We are now making a feature documentary, following a year in Stella's life until she graduates from high school in spring 2009.
By then, certainly, hopefully no one will be able to forget her."


Source: Al Jazeera