One Kenyan climate change activist’s fight to get the plight of his family noticed takes centre stage in Julia Dhar’s multilayered documentary Thank You for the Rain, a look not only at the effects of climate change, but of the dedication it takes to be an activist and family man at the same time.
Kisilu Musya depends on the rain for his family’s survival. A family of farmers, not only do the Musyas need the food they grow to sell, but they also need it to eat and provide for their children. The weather in his village isn’t as conducive to growing crops as it once was. If the region isn’t going through a years’ long drought – forcing many other farmers to take jobs in the city to provide for their families – then the rains are so torrential and brief that massive flooding is caused. Kisilu tries to get fellow residents to notice, and even attempts to spearhead a tree planting campaign, but he’s largely met with collective apathy and resignation. When Kisilu takes his troubles to a higher international level at the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, he learns what the true face of climate change apathy looks like.
While Dhar struggles at times to keep numerous narrative threads integrated with one another – including minor bits of self-insertion to explain how she started following Kisilu – Thank You for the Rain works primarily as an impassioned plea for climate change action. As an activist, Kisilu works tirelessly to get noticed and to make a difference, and watching him face continually larger obstacles takes an equal emotional toll on the viewer and subject. The bits that try to explain how Kisilu has difficulties balancing work and family offer a nice counterpoint, but don’t land nearly as well.