Iztapalapa, when a community comes together

Yesterday Jenny White and myself along with a super dude by the name of Antonio Cervantes (a linguist, program manager with Isla Urbna and a music lover!) made our way to Iztapalapa, one of the larger and most populated Delegaciones in DF.  We arrived into the barrio just after noon, and met with Gilberto, another non profit Director working with this largely indigenous community. We were there to survey 20 households that are about to receive a rainwater harvesting system from Isla Urbana, and this is the first time they are working in this area.  The heart of this community is within the local secondary school, “Escuela Secondaria Tecnica 115”. So we went from home to home, meeting the head of households, and ensuring each site will be prepared to receive the systems. 



40 years ago the founders of this community came from Oaxaca hoping for work, and a better life in the big city.  They staked claim on land on the hillside overlooking East DF and started to build homes.  Of course the issue of water became huge, and the leaders of the community at that time had to fight big time to get the City to send the water pipas (trucks that deliver water all over the city).  They spent a lot of time doing this, and most of the community adults would go down into El Centro to meet with the powers that be, talk about their situation and needs, and the work was long and hard.


With most of the adults gone, the few remaining behind to look after the children began to collectively cook meals so that when the others returned, there was a meal prepared and they would all eat together.  Today, Iztapalapa still has a “Comedor Popular” (a community kitchen) where they provide low cost meals twice a day to anyone that comes.  People sign in, and for 10 pesos get a delicious meal.  We ate there and had sopa, mixed rice, beans and carnes.  There was even a cinnamon cookie at the end! 


These Comedores born in Iztapalapa have been adopted in many of DF’s delgacions.  I think that the essence of the culture here in these challenged communities are responsible for such a beautiful example of social structure, very caring, organized and supporting each other.  This community had tons of mojo, not only were they organizing themselves around water, but they also told us about their plans to start a torterilla that was based on using Amaranth with the corn flower instead of wheat, giving much more protein and nourishment in the torillas, brilliant!! 


I want to give a personal note of thanks to the hospitality of this community, I fell quite ill in the afternoon, I was graciously taken care of, from the couch at Claudia Morelos casa, right down to the car ride home from Antonio with the Beatles playing all the way!  Antonio, su coche es la casa de musica, mucho gracias!

1. View from Iztapalapa

2. Antonio Cervantes

3. Gilberto welcomes us and speaks with community leaders

4. Gilberto

5. Maria, the Queen of the Comodo Popular

6. Visiting the casas

7. From the bottom…8. To the top!

9. local dogs tell us off!

10 A typical cosina/kitchen

11. a family poses

12. lunch at the Comedor Popular

13. Maria in action

14  In Claudia’s Casa

11. Amaranth!

AIDS2012 Diary Day 4 + link to GHOSTS&DREAMS

The word of the day is MANIFEST!  make it happen, and yesss it does!  Great energy here today as more and more people love the show.  I have had people from UNICEF, USAID, and many others come by and speak with me about the power of the photos and the stories behind them.  It is nice to know that the outcome I had hoped for in terms of how the images reach out and grab people is effective and effecting others.  I love watching people passing by, glance over and then zoom right in!

As I have been saying to folks here, we at Cameras4Change believe that photography is an integral part of the human experience, it helps to ground us, give us definition of who we are, where we come from and where we go from here! 

For those of you that have requested, and I should have had this up here long ago, here is the link to my personal website where the original version of GHOSTS&DREAMS:WaterWomen&HIV exists.  This has been updated for the venue here at AIDS2012, a few additions and some extra text which eventually I will recreate online, but for now: 


1. people engaging with our exhibit

2. Sex workers on Stage

3. Barbara, one of our first visitors keeps coming back!

4. Some younger visitors!


AIDS2012 Diary Day 3

Each day here brings a new whirlwind of activity!  Today there are a number of AIDS Marches happening, one which had a meetup spot right next to our exhibit!  There were sign carrying activists of all ages, sex workers with red umbrellas, unimaginable color and energy creating a huge din!  I have had hundreds of visitors again to view the show, and even had an impromptu Spanish Lesson from a woman that has spent much time working in Oaxaca and other Latin American countries!  Gotta learn how to conjugate my verbs in prep for Isla Urbana next week!

Yesterday I had a surprising and stunning exchange, a beautiful woman from Uganda that is a Dr both here and in Uganda spoke with me for a while about the images that she found most powerful.  After talking with myself and another photographer, she heard me mention that Cameras4Change was going to be running workshops in Kenya focusing on FGM (Female Genital Mutilation).  She quitely touched my arm and said she had something she wanted to tell me.  When we finally got to speak alone, she wanted to tell me something she had never told anyone as an adult, about her experience as a grown woman being a victim of FGM as an infant!  We spoke and she agreed to be recorded, and so I captured her thoughts and views on the act, she gave consent that we could utilize them in our workshops.  It was such a powerful and poignant moment and I thank her deeply for sharing!

On flip of this, I am dedicated to working on my free t-shirt connections, have gotten a couple of nice ones, but my dream is to acquire a Partners in Health/ZanMeLaSante or a Medicines Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders Tshirt, but I hear they are very, very hard to get!  Here is to hope! 

Clicker is at 817 visitors so far!


Watch on Posterous

Meeting with The World

Tonite saw the opening speeches at AIDS2012. Our exhibit here at the Global Village is next to the central screen and eye on the mainstage to the conference which is great because when I am not chatting with people about the work we are doing I can keep my eyes and ears on the amazing presentations! Tonite i clicked over 140 people that engaged with Ghosts&Dreams and spoke with many of them, including someone who said they had already seen some of the work! An Engineers Without Borders delegate here who is familiar with and uses materials from CAWST whom I initially worked in field for in Zambia, India and Haiti! Amazing!

A few people learned something new from the posted story quotes with the image titles, many wanted to hear more, it is very encouraging to know we are reaching other with through imagry when the feedback is so direct and firsthand.

Thanks Squeeze and Bond!

This is our AIDS2012 postcard designed by the amazing people at SQUEEZE CREATIVE in Calgary.  Thanks so much to Briane, Willie, Julia and Sarah!  Squeeze have been at the forefront of our design at Cameras4Change, they developed not only this postcard, but also the tickets/poster for HANDSUP! last April, as well as the signage and look of the GHOSTS&DREAMS exhibit for AIDS2012 in Washington DC this July 23-27th. 

Huge cudos too to Bond Repro in Vancouver who printed up the postcards for us, you guys all rock!!!

We are off to DC to install the exhibit this weekend, if any of our friends are in the DC area, please come out to visit us in the Global Village at the Walter E Washington Convention Center, in the Global Village!

DC minus 13

2 weeks today Cameras4Change will meet the world as we exhibit GHOSTS&DREAMS:WaterWomen&HIV at the Global Village alongside the AIDS2012 Conference, this year in Washington DC.  There is starting to be quite a buzz with Sir Elton John giving the keynote opening speech, rumors of President Obama, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Whoopie Goldberg and more!  This annual conference is the premierre gathering for those working in the field of HIV, and provides a collective evaluation of progress and development.  It was majorly huge for C4C to get curated into the event, and will be an amazing opportunity for us to connect with like minded folks working to end the pandemic.  This years theme is “Turning the Tide”

I want to start to build the excitement by sharing some of the images from the exhibit with our supporters.  Please stay tuned for lots more as we will be posting and twittering live from the event and afterwards as we head to DF Mexico for some more field work with Isla Urbana, our favorite org down South!!

Gladys Katongo, Mapalo, Zambia

Fiercely independent, strong and smart, this mother of 3 embraces life in her own terms.  In a marriage with a husband that would not allow her to work despite her higher education and wanting more for her children, Gladys struck out on her own and woks as a community hygenist, training people how water sanitation and hygiene.



Ordinary is the new Black

Some days seem more difficult than others to get through, let alone to commence with something that we can label as fantastic at the end of the day!  Hell, sometimes I feel that if I arrive on time and in one piece, that I have won the race!  So I get it when others ask me, how do you find the time and energy to do work for Cameras4Change?  We are a volunteer run non-profit organization, myself and a few other amazing women so far that have put an incredible amount of time into this machine!  Also, coffee, wine, laughter, and even anxiety, but most of all hope and commitment to what we feel is right.


After talking with my always inspiring partner and friend Sol Garcia, I realized we all share something in common in terms of our day to day manifesto.  It is about doing our bit, not just for our organizations, but for life, the community, humanity and for our world.  That may sound a little over glorified, but it is really a creedo that is simple and can work in a micro way for macro results.  That means everyday giving on some level, it may not be noticed by anyone but you.  It may be some minute detail, that you will never get credit for, that will not put you on the TEDstage, that will never be in the papers or on the internet, not even Facebook friends know.  It will likely be some small accomplishment, or random act of kindness (even smiling at the stranger you work with, can make a difference).


Right now C4C work is building as I prepare to take a body of work to Washington DC for exhibit in the Global Village at the world AIDS2012 conference.  I am excited, we have SQUEEZE CREATIVE in Calgary helping us with a leaflet that looks super slick, and then it is on to work in DF Mexico with our friends at Isla Urbana.  Ongoing, we are in prep mode for a dedicated project in Kenya to run a C4C program for girls affected by FGM.  As I have another “job” that keeps me occupied sometimes for 14 hours a day, it can be difficult to find the time to weave in all the things that need to happen to keep C4C ticking along on schedule.  With the help of my board we manage to do it.  All of our ordinary actions, editing, checking, supporting each other all add up to some extraordinary consequences.  Who knows what is next!! 


Muchos besos a Julia y Brianne en Squeeze y Thea y Gillian en C4C xxx


1. The human experience is sometimes all new to us

2.  Sometimes you just have to reach out

3. These children in the Chettinad region of India brought me a lotus after seeing me photograph a pond full of them!

4. A smile can translate an infinity of positivity, a woman weaver in the southeast of India.