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POV: Good Fortune

Airs Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 10:30 p.m. on KPBS TV

Jackson Omondi observing the floodwater from the edge of his property in the ...

Credit: Landon Van Soest

Above: Jackson Omondi observing the floodwater from the edge of his property in the Nyanza Province of western Kenya. Dominion Farms, an American company, is flooding his home as part of a massive development project in the region.

"Good Fortune" is a provocative exploration of how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be undermining the very communities they aim to benefit.

In Kenya’s rural countryside, Jackson’s farm is being flooded by an American investor who hopes to alleviate poverty by creating a multimillion-dollar rice farm. Across the country in Nairobi, Silva’s home and business in Africa’s largest shantytown are being demolished as part of a U.N. slum-upgrading project. The gripping stories of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from large-scale development present a unique opportunity see foreign aid through eyes of the people it is intended to help. By Landon Van Soest.

"It’s important that we, as Western citizens, do what we can to combat extreme poverty. I hope this film can be the beginning of a discussion, and I hope that the way we administer aid in the future can change as a result." — Landon Van Soest, filmmaker

An Update From Kenya

In 2010, filmmaker Landon Van Soest returned to Kenya to check in with Jackson and Silva and see what has happened in Kibera and at the Yala Swamp since filming ended. Jackson's property had been severly damaged by flooding in the Yala Swamp; Kibera, where Silva lived, had new roads and temporary housing installed. Read the full update to find out more about what happened. View some of Van Soest's photos of Jackson, Silva and more from his trip.

"Good Fortune" will be streaming online from July 14 through October 12, 2010.

Video Excerpt: POV: Good Fortune

"Good Fortune" profiles two development projects that are at odds with the communities they are striving to help. But which development efforts have a positive impact and how can we support them? The filmmakers sat down with Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan environmental activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, which trains rural women to plant trees, combat deforestation and generate income for impoverished communities. Maathai points out that aid organizations cannot expect communities to change overnight and explains Green Belt's holistic approach to addressing poverty.

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