Today is the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, established by UNESCO in 2002 after adopting the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. The day is an opportunity to promote culture and emphasize the importance of its diversity as an agent of inclusion and positive change to learn to live better together. This year takes on even greater significance, as it happens at a time when it is important to spread the message that mutual understanding between different cultures is a fundamental prerequisite for peace. Indeed, this day offers us the opportunity to reflect on the importance of cultural diversity and invites everyone to do their part to bridge the gap between cultures. How can we bridge this gap? It all begins with dialogue. And it is precisely in order to open a dialogue between Italy and Kenya that World Friends has promoted to projects such as Penpal and Slum Film Festival.

Penpal - an exchange of letters between Kenya and Italy

The project Penpal, implemented alongside with our friends from CrescereInsieme, allows the letter exchange among the students of classes IV and V of the Oloolua school in Kenya and the To Be Together of Acqui Terme. Letters, written in English, travel from Acqui Terme to Nairobi and vice versa during the journeys of special “postmen”: the operators and collaborators of World Friends.

In December 2021, the first letters from Italy to Kenya left and the exchange continues to this day. The kids from both schools are enthusiastic and talk to each other constantly to find out what their friends are saying from afar. The project is a great way to delve into knowledge of new cultures, discovering similarities and differences. For example, one of the boys from Italy also sent a photo of his girlfriend along with the letter. This caused a great surprise in the school of Oloolua, because in Kenya having a girlfriend is strange at this age, as the boys are very focused on studying. Penpal is therefore a tool to put pupils in contact, so that they can get to know each other despite the physical distance, learning through encounter.

Slum Film Festival - a festival to celebrate slum culture

Since 2013 World Friends has sponsored the Slum Film Festival, a film event founded in 2011 in Nairobi and carried out thanks to the collaboration of different entities from the slums. The festival represents both a celebration of film-makers' creativity living and working in the slums and an opportunity to promote a diverse range of movies for communities that rarely have access to cinema. The festival is an opportunity to highlight the power of cinema as a tool for education and social change, with positive impacts on the entire community.

The festival includes workshops, training sessions and opportunities for networking. The films shown are not only Kenyan, but come from all over Africa and the world to shed light on the life of the people who live in the slums.

Unfortunately, the last editions of the festival were not held due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but we are sure that this one-of-a-kind event will return to thrill slum dwellers and people curious about the reality of informal settlements.

Cultural diversity for development

When we focus on knowing and welcoming other cultures, we help improve many areas of our life, such as education, science, health and the environment. Many also believe that bridging cultural gaps can help eradicate poverty. It is an opportunity to unleash the creative potential of our different languages ​​and traditions and to make these differences enrich and strengthen us, instead of dividing us.

World Friends renews its commitment to promote cultural diversity in all its activities and projects. From the streets of the slums to the ones in Italy, dialogue and discussion are always fundamental tools for defending and guaranteeing the rights of the most vulnerable people.

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