A few days before Christmas and I can feel the steam running out on me. I don’t exactly know why I am not feeling giddy with delight. I have everything to be happy about, and I could really ramble on right now about the doldrums. Instead I am going to write a different story, one that is better-feeling about what is important to me. The experiences from the past year have actually been pretty magical, and involve a lot of hope, determination, and transformation!
It was really about one year ago after working in Haiti that I wondered if I could actually take an idea and turn it into an organization in it’s own right? Could I take the experience of working with youth in Haiti and teaching them digital camera skills, creative writing, and create a not-for-profit around that idea? It has been just over a year, and based upon where I am now I would say YES.
I have mentioned Cameras 4 Change before in this blog, but for the record, I think I would like to really lay out exactly what it is about. We offer arts based programs utilizing digital camera skills, creative writing, and specific educational components to individuals in challenging situations that would otherwise not have the opportunity to tell their own stories in this way.
After working the previous few years as a humanitarian photographer, I wanted to give back to the communities I worked with in an even more focused way. I was offered to help structure and run a camera workshop with youth in Haiti, which was pretty much a dream come true for me. That experience was pretty awesome, and I saw some key transformations in those that participated. I saw pride, accomplishment, and sense of self take form; I witnessed excitement as the spark of creativity was ignited; I saw a coming together of the participants, family and community in ways that were relevant only because of our work. I saw the capacity for so much more hope and opportunity, gifting individuals with new skills, stronger self determination, self reliance and capability that they can take forward in their lives, skills that offer new ways of coping with extreme situations, offering emotional support. This is the beauty of Arts-Based-Programs.
I had an idea, but really needed to streamline it, build it and allow it to take shape. I began by writing and talking about it. Miraculously certain people presented themselves to me at key times to aid in the process. Now I have a group of amazing women that are all willing to help take Cameras 4 Change forward. We have a vision, a mission and a methodology all laid out on the blogsite.
Our goal is to raise funding to run projects that are tabled for the next one to two years. We have projects planned for Kenya, Soweto, and Mexico internationally, and are excited to make plans for working locally in Vancouver as well. Each project deals with issues aligned with the United Nations Millenium Development Goals, specifically we are working with people affected by Gender Violence, HIV/AIDs, Poverty, and Education. We want these projects to run in places where capacity exists through our ground partners, and create sustainable programs.
In the long term we have a dream for an online platform that will create a digital bridge between all of the participants, showcasing imagery and stories, sharing lives, learning from each other, and connecting humanity.
In order to do this I have spent many hours writing, thinking and talking with others. I am so grateful to the generosity others have had in contributing, their excitement, shared wisdom, experience and genuine willingness to engage! Thank you! Yesterday I began the process of registration, which was a huge step, but it feels timely and “right”.
So as 2011 draws to a close, I am excited and tingly to think of what can happen in another year, and I have lifted my spirits as I finish writing. I really want others to know that I am ultimately pretty selfish, I do all of this because it makes me feel so amazing. I want everyone to feel this way, and I want to invite you to take a step if you have never taken it before. I will be making plans for an event here in Vancouver sometime in the new year to raise funding to get at least one of our programs off to a start. I invite you to join me in this journey together. Stay tuned, have a Merry Merry Holiday Season and keep the hope and determination even when you don’t feel it. Because when you reach out to make change in someones life that you don’t know it will feel like magic as your life too begins to transform right before yours eyes.