RIP FEAR, ANGER and DESPAIR

*I wrote this on Tuesday, the day after the death of Jack Layton, an astonishing human being whose beliefs and life will continue to teach us for generations!

 

Yesterday one man lost his life in a battle with Cancer.  His last words to the world in a letter to Canadians were succinct, simple and synonymous with the way he lived, “My friends, love is better than anger, Hope is better than fear, Optimism is better than despair.  So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic, And we’ll change the world  I have seen this posted a multitude of times already on Facebook and Twitter.  Jack Layton, the leader of the NDP politico and the official leader of the opposition party here in Canada had values that I have not seen in other political leaders, actually, they were values that I don’t always see in everyday people, but they are values that are so important.

 

I choose to live without fear, and with optimism and love, perhaps that is why I accomplish the things I do in my life.  Today I spoke with David Vargas, chief operating officer with Isla Urbana, an amazing organization working in the barrios on the edge of Mexico City.  Tlalpan, the city delagacion where they operate is home to some 1-1.5 million people who have no water infrastructure.  Isla Urbana harvests rainwater and implements cisterns to keep the water in.  They have done this in a very cost effective way, and in the past 2 years since they began operating have implemented 500 cisterns and plan to facilitate another 1000! 

 

 Clean Safe Water is what makes the difference between living and surviving in many cases.

 

I love the work they do, because at the outset, it could seem daunting to take on such a dense area, but this is how change happens, how transformation begins.  Simply by beginning, 1 person, 1 family, 1 community, 1 cistern at a time!  They are revolutionizing rainwater harvesting to create a sustainable and environmentally stable solution to answer many of the water related problems that exist in Mexico City.  Isla Urbana is really taking the same values that Jack Layton had during his 3 decades of public service and putting them in action, a passionate, courageous man who fought many times for the rights of those that could not, refused to be affected by despair, hopelessness, or negativity, and simply making it happen because it is the right thing.  Thank you for the work that you do!

 

 It makes the difference to being able to work and make money to feed your grandchildren every day, Casey Kasoma‘s  children are dead and she is left alone to care for their children, waterbourne disease is responsible for 88% of diarhea cases worldwide, leading to death and loss in ability to work.

 

 In the developing world (that is most of the world) clean safe water is hard to come by.  Here in Haiti I visited SHADA, a slum in Cap-Haitian. Ancient Romans had better quaility of life than half the people alive now *Water.Org

WHO WILL CARE?

 <!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:”Times New Roman”; panose-1:0 2 2 6 3 5 4 5 2 3; mso-font-charset:0; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:50331648 0 0 0 1 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;} table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-parent:””; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

Today as I reviewed some of my past work I was reminded of the story of Jennifer, a young child in Siaya County, Kenya, who lost both of her parents to HIV/AIDs and was living with her 75 year old HIV+ Grandmother, Momma Margret* along with 5 other siblings and cousins.  The story was so poignant due to the fact that Jennifer, after hearing the adults speak of how HIV had ravaged her family, ran out to stand in front of a small home built after her mother died to represent her.  Jennifer stood there consoling herself as she was reminded of her mother, and Scholastica Appidu, a coordinator from SWAP (Safe Water and Aids Project) informed me that she has seen the little girl do this before.  

 

Jennifer2

The story of Jennifer, her Mother and Grandmother is a perfect example of how HIV/AIDs cuts a wide swathe, and how women are more directly affected than men as they are the caretakers.  My work as a humanitarian photographer has exposed me to a wide range of situations, human rights issues, and subjects.  My question was, “who will take care of these souls?”  The lucky ones do have family, which may give some emotional support: they may get their ARV’s and clean water supplied to them.  But, what about the importance of psycho-social support?  Who helps them to cope emotionally with the devastation, especially when it is so wide spread?  Sometimes the community steps in, sometimes caring individuals do, but more often than not I have seen the sting of lifes ramifications leave people to just hold it in.   The UN’s MDG’s cover a broad range of these issues, dealing with many of the more widespread problems, poverty & hunger, universal education, gender equality, maternal health, HIV/AIDs, Environmental Sustainability, and Global Parternship.  Looking deeper into the goals, I found that there was an urgency for programs that would address the emotional welfare of people that suffer, and especially for women and girls.

 

Mm

When I worked in Haiti last year teaching visual media to youth, I discovered that even the small one on one time I spent with these teens had a large impact.  That is where the inspiration for Cameras 4 Change came from.  I saw it as a way to not only impart skill transfer, and teach other specific components such as clean water & sanitation, or HIV awareness: but equally as important it built in social and emotional support and skills.  Arts based programs can open the door to creativity, and build in life long mechanisms to dealing with trauma, loss or extreme challenges. In some cases this can be the first step to healing from these experiences.

 

Over the next year I will be initiating a number of different projects working with people of all ages in Africa, Haiti, and more.  I hope you will join me on my journey.

THIS GIRL…IS A HERO

This girl is 9, she has been cut, married, beaten, frightened, and ran away, she is strong, she wants an education. 

 

This girl was in school one day, and the next she was circumcised by three older tribeswomen that came at her with a razer, they caught her from behind and held her down; she felt she would faint from the pain, she was 14.  She ran to a safe place, and is protected for now. This girl prays to go back to school, sometimes she sees her family in the street and says hello.

This girl was married at 9 yrs old for 2 years to a man in his 40’s, they had to put her in the landrover to take her, he beat her, she escaped at nite and stayed with the cattle, she prayed to God as she was afraid of the wild animals at night, she escaped by running to a school.  She wants to be a lawyer to help other girls.

This girl had her head shaved, wore a black Shuka and was held down by 3 old women she did not know who cut her.  She heard her Father negotiate her worth in cows, goats and blankets.  She ran to a school, at the age of 9; she wants to be a Doctor, she is 14.

This girl grew up taking care of her family’s cattle, she ran away when she learned of the cut, was sent home, cut with a razor without medicine, and then rescued before marriage when she was 9.  She works hard in school and wants people to know that cutting is bad.

This girl was found at 9 living with her husband of 40 years. She was awoken at 5am one morning, taken naked and poured ice-cold water over her body, she fainted when they cut her. She decided to run to a school one day when her husband was gone.  She has been in school now for 5 years.  After the cut she could not believe in herself, the Massai woman that circumcised her told her that now she was a “real woman”, but she thinks this is a lie, because when she was married she found she was still a young girl.

This girl was in school on a Friday, cut on a Saturday, married on a Sunday and rescued on a Monday.  She had never been away from her family or in a car until Sunday when she was married and taken to be with a much older man.  This girl is in severe shock, she is12, but she will move forward.

This girl was married at 13 for 3 years. When she was 9 she received the cut, she lost a lot of blood and could not get up for a week.  It took 1 month for the pain to go, they kept her legs tied together with a rope.  She was married soon after to a man that was 38.  “The encounter of love with someone you don’t love is impossible, you are going to a house and leaving all you love.”  She looked after the husband, his 3 wives and 26 children.  She tried to escape to her Father, but he sent her back and she was beaten.  She escaped a second time and again was sent back, this time a stranger came with ropes, tied her up and she was beaten by 3 different men.  She asks the world to “Please give the children opportunity”

This girl has an 8 month old baby fathered by the husband of a “good Samaritan” whose home she was hiding at to avoid beatings from her widowed father.  After it was discovered she was pregnant, the good Samaritan started beating her with a pipe but she was finally able to run back home.  When she returned home her Father had her circumcised, and she gave birth 2 weeks later.  Because of the cut, no one was allowed to go in and help her with the birth, she was all alone and 14.  She now waits for a sponsor so she can go to school.  She has a smile on her face.

These girls rock, they are strong, they are smart, they deserve a chance at life.  They are heroes. Please support programs for girls affected by FGM, and forced Child Marriage.  Thankyou…

want to help?  click HERE

Drop by Drop

Just had a look with fresh eyes at the Waves of Change website containing some of my original images from Zambia, India and Haiti. I am so happy that the site now has a link on the front page to view the Exhibit Images! Thank you CAWST! So many people that could not make it to the Exhibits over the past couple of years can now view it online!

Revisiting the imagery and the heartfelt stories written by Melanie Jones reignites my passion for this theme. It was an amazing experience I am thankful for. Take a look and see what it stirs up for you, send one of the e-postcards and spread the word!

www.makewavesofchange.org

Dsc_9915

Dsc_9188
Dsc_9106

1.  Following a Water Delivery Lady in Petite Riviere, Haiti, it was difficult to keep up with this tiny woman carrying 40 lb buckets of water on her head all day!

2.  I met this delightful woman in Lika, an area stricken with malnutrition, lack of seed, fertilizer and clean water.  She has seen and survived so much.

3.  This young mother with her child in Lika seemed in a daze in the extreme heat but had no clean drinking water on hand.  I became hyper aware on this visit that many people living in this way are succeptable to dehydration on a daily basis.   Water is one of our basic needs, and clean water is key.

www.catecameron.com
twitter @catecameron
778-998-0774

Blogs:
cameras4change.posterous.com
changents.com/cate-cameron

Sent from my iPhone