Good Fortune

Institute History


Good Fortune explores how massive, international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may be
undermining the very communities they aim to benefit. Through intimate portraits of Jackson, Silva, and Oketch, Good Fortune uncovers the real world impact of global aid and explores our role in supporting an equitable future for Africa.

Jackson is grazing his cattle through the lush grasses of Kenya’s largest remaining wetland. As he
pushes his herd across a quiet river, Jackson makes a startling discovery: the once fertile wetland has been slashed and burned.

Dominion Farms LTD, an Oklahoma-based agricultural corporation, is clearing the wetland to
construct a reservoir that will irrigate its multi-million dollar rice farm. Dominion says the project
is a great humanitarian effort that will bring infrastructure and employment to one of the poorest
areas in Kenya, but for Jackson, and over 500 families like his, the project could destroy everything
he has: Jackson’s home, where generations of his family were born and buried, will soon be
underwater. As the water reaches his door, Jackson vows to fight to protect his land and family.

Across the country, in the heart of Nairobi, Silva is delivering a baby. She is working from her
kitchen in Kibera, the largest squatter community in Africa. As she works, surveyors and
philanthropists are moving through the slum, making plans to demolish her home.

The United Nations is embarking on an experimental slum-upgrading program in Kibera it say will
be monumental in re-shaping life in the community, replacing millions of shacks with block-style
apartments and modern infrastructure. But Silva says the project is destroying the vibrant
community that has allowed her to flourish. She claims the new houses will be out of reach for the
community and feels the project will fall in a long line of empty promises to the people of Kibera. As the bulldozers move in, Silva helps organize her community to demand information from the UN
and represent the will of the community.

Fighting through the rough waters of Lake Victoria, Oketch faces a different threat. After years of
unregulated commercial fishing, fish stocks are disappearing and the lake is in a state of ecological
disaster. Fishermen like Oketch are struggling to feed their families and have turned to illegal,
environmentally destructive fishing practices.

To confront the problem, the World Bank and European Union have devoted millions of dollars to
preserve the lake’s ecology, funding law enforcement to crack down on illegal fishing. Now, as
fisheries officers swarm the lake with AK-47 rifles, Oketch is forced to make a dramatic choice:
evade the law and continue to degrade the lake’s ecology or stop fishing and allow his family to go

Good Fortune builds out of the day-to-day struggles of its characters as their lives intersect with
massive international aid projects. The filmmakers hope that the film will provide a platform for the
beneficiaries of aid to speak directly to Western audiences and generate a dialogue that can lead to a more equitable, sustainable future.

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