You may know that we’re called Mile 91 after a town in Sierra Leone where we first worked together. Despite having worked together many times since, Sierra Leone remains the scene of one our favourites anecdotes.
Driving through the Freetown one day, we spotted a poster calling on young people to use their vote. This poster had been designed by a VSO youth volunteer so Ben asked the driver to stop so he could take a picture. A few minutes passed. The country director and I chatted. A few more minutes passed. And a few more.
Eventually the country director went to find Ben. He came back and said, “Catherine, I think you need to come, Ben is with the police.” It turns out that the poster was on a hoarding above a police station and the guards had thought Ben was photographing them.
I entered the station to find Ben looking somewhere between sheepish and scared, and three intimidating looking policemen touting guns. The mood shifted as a white lady entered the room and the police relaxed. They became smiley. I explained as nicely as possible what our purpose was. As we left the station Ben asked, “did you just flirt me out of custody?”
This week we’re working in Uganda, producing a film for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. Earlier today Ann (our client) and I are waiting in the reception of Mulago Hospital. We’ve left Ben on the stairs getting a few last shots. We look up from our conversation to see a stern looking policeman approaching. A split second later we spot Ben behind him. He didn’t look as sheepish or scared this time, and this policeman was definitely not the flirtatious kind, but six years on I once again find myself talking Ben out of trouble.
Please note: we take issues of consent and privacy very seriously when planning filming trips and we had actually visited the hospital director and the head of obstetrics and gynaecology on Monday to secure the necessary permissions!