Full Circle

Yesterday Cameras4Change wrapped up the second of two digital camera photo workshops in Kenya with ground partners Heshima Kenya and The Maasai Girls Eduction Fund.  We were a synchronized team of 5 women working together to bring skills, education and connection to girls in need.  Months of planning and work prior to was necessary to bring us here but did not match the level of fast paced work the team needed to provide for the groups we worked with.  We needed to remain flexible and always return to the essence of the reason we were here as we were thrown many curves that could have changed the outcome.  I am proud of the work that was done and the information collected for the workshops along with the documentary we were shooting.  The workshops we ran added to the curriculum, and brought us into contact with some amazing participants.  Some of the stories we encountered during the filming showcased the strength of spirit and the capacity for an open heart and hope to rise out of chaos and loss.

 

 

At the end of the second workshop a girl came into the classroom and approached Sol Garcia to ask if she remembered her.  At that same moment both Sol and I realized that this was one of the original girls we had met and interviewed 2 years ago when we first cme to this region in SE Kenya to talk learn about the affects of fgm and early child marriage on girls.  She looked amazing, happy and grounded, doing well in school as she had a sponsor that was making a huge difference in her life.  She said she had often thought of us and wondered if she would ever see us again.   We told her that she had inspired us and was the reason we had continued to work to bring awareness and why we were here now.

 

Both of the ground partners are working in phenomenal ways with girls that have been affected by issues such as war, conflict, loss of family, fgm, early child marriage or lack of access to education.  Providing a safe place, education, community and connection goes a long way to getting them back on track and we were honored to work with them both.  Thank you again to Heshima Kenya and to The Maasai Girls Education Fund and all of the participants in our workshops.  Thank you for your sharing, your stories and for your hearts.  We hope you will never forget us as we know we won’t forget you! 

 

1.  A t-shirt that reads “Dream can come true” in Swahili by Photographer Agnes Ntari

2.  Girls greet us at the beginning of the second day eager to begin

3.  A student is proud of her work!

4.  Educating girls is tapping into a huge resource for the future of a community.

Day 1 Kenya-Off and Running!

Today will be the first day of our first workshop in Kenya with a group of participants from Heshima Kenya.  We met with the group briefly yesterday to introduce ourselves.  It was a hectic day as we are all newly arrived from half way around the world, a bit disorientated and jetlagged.  We found Heshima Kenya with a little help from our driver and it was like opening into another inner world driving into the compound.  There were a few girls coming and going with inquisitive looks and once we spoke with our points people there we got to meet outdoors under a tree with the group.

This group consists of students that are “unnacompanied minors” from other countries that live here in Nairobi.  These refugee children are separated from family and country, and all of this group have been taking part in a journalism program here at Heshima Kenya through a curriculum set up by Imgard, a journailsm graduate volunteering with the organization.  I loved that they all described themselves as “Journalists”, or “Journalism Students”!  Many have never held a camera before, so this will be a big experience for them and Imgard has told us they are all really excited to learn and take part.

Our Cameras4Change Team on the ground here worked really hard yesterday pulling all of the pieces together, we all helped to collect intake data from the participants, and our DP Shannon Kohli began filming a number of shots as we hit the ground running.  There is so much we need to accomplish in this short format 3 day program, so our work is cut out but it is super exciting to finally be rolling it all out.  We are all learning so much on every level, we are giving skills and time, but we are also learning so much from the crew here at Heshima, this group is amazing!

Huge high fives to everyone on the team here, Thea Grivakes & Gillian Harrow from C4C, Sol Garcia who is partnering with us from Project X Impact, and our Director of Photography Shannon Kohli!  Here We Go!

PS:  I have been so busy with the workshops that I am not really photographing as much, so will be making a few adjustments to that!  We are struggling to find internet, hence I am up to use the one internet stick at 3am!

 

 

Malala’s Message

Photo

Saturday November 10 was “Malala Day”, bringing into focus the fact that nearly 32 million girls world wide that should be getting an education are not.  It is 1 month since the Talaban boarded a bus and shot a 14 year old girl in the head because of her message, “to educate girls”.  As Malala seems to go from strength to strength in a hospital in England, her message has become even more emblazened, stronger and far reaching.  The spotlight for the campaign in Malala’s name that has begun for girls in Pakistan to be educated, has widened to include girls all over the world.

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I feel entrusted with that message, and have been working the past couple of years to help girls in Kenya affected by early child marriage and female circumcision to move forward in their lives through education.  In a few days I will be leaving for Kenya with a team of incredible women, we will be running 2 photo workshops with 2 different groups, and documenting that process on film.  Our workshops with Heshima Kenya and The Maasai Girls Education Fund will offer the participants the chance to learn the skill of using digital cameras, produce a small exhibit, document and express thier lives visually, and perhaps offer a message to the world. 

Iphone

I spent time yesterday in prep going through a number of different things, including a years worth of iphone photos.  I was struck by how I was immediately pulled into the moments I was glancing through.  Imagery makes the mind and the memory come alive.  We often take for granted the access that we have to personal imagery through the computers, our phones etc.  I am excited that our group will be assisting others to have access to that. We will be leaving behind photos, cameras, memories, and giving them the opportunity to use visual media to record events, tools to act in advocacy, ways to express themselves, and the idea that creativity holds an important place in life, especially in extreme challenging situations.

We are super excited to be meeting our ground partners in Kenya next week!  Here we come Heshima Kenya and Maasai Girls Education Fund!  Thank you to the Cameras4Change board for all of the hard work, organizing, shameless asking of favors and more, you ladies all rock!  Thea Grivakes, Gillian Harrow, Barb Briggs, Kimberley French, Sol Garcia of Project X Impact and also to Shannon Kohli our DP.

Also huge thanks to everyone that has supported us to this point, we are proud that so many individuals and business’s have been a part of this!