“Your Eyes” or “Rant #105”

Recently someone in my family made the reference that they could no longer support any financial aid to African countries due to the fact that the money and effort previously poured into the continent has not done a thing!  I was astounded by this attitude, as I thought that this way of thinking was really something of the past!  I am also sure there would be millions of people living and working there that would be surprised too, as they are likely proof of the changes that have made positive transformation in lives and communities there.  Further investigation shone light on the fact that my family member had been involved with an organization where the in country ground partner absconded with donated money and equipment.  I can understand how as volunteers and donars they would feel angry, but this is such an out of date sentiment in this day and age.  I think fear stops many from actually taking action, maybe of doing the wrong thing, or wanting to shut out the pain that others may exist in.  We cannot bury our heads in the sand. Its like saying, we have poured millions into healthcare, but people still get sick.  I myself have experienced the wrong end of the stick in the Zambia, Kenya and Haiti, but I don’t want isolated incidence’ to color the page for every person and thing that happens there. We all have eyes and we can all see that life can change in an instant, we have all been helped and supported in some way in our lives, and we have a responsibility to others too.

I am thankful that as a human being I have come to the realization that there will likely always be huge divides in the world, but that does not mean that we should not be caring, compassionate and make effort to do something.  We are all given chances to help others every day.  Missed opportunities happen all the time, but don’t worry, there will be another one just around the corner!  If you have never taken action, please try it sometime, you will be surprised as to how “you” feel afterwards, and how it will change the way you “see” things.  We are all actually “one” and if you don’t see that then you are part of the problem, be part of the solution instead.  Nuff Said!eye4aneye

Lives change every day for the better

Lives change every day for the better

It works both ways,  Jennifer was one of the first girls Sol Garcia and I worked with in Kenya on the subject of Child Marriage and FGM.  She changed our life, and hers was changed too by a sponsor who has allowed her to educate herself and move forward.  This meeting was 2 years after our first introduction, and she is a changed girl!

Community LeadersThese Kenyan women work hard in their own communities to exact change on the lives of girls in the community by saving them from child marriage.  The risk and sacrifice to their own lives is extensive, but they work to do it,  very often with the support of others from outside of their country that allows the work to continue.

It’s Simple!

8 Louise Klune   02581. connecting with nature through the camera. Margaret Dixon

Whenever people hear the name Cameras4Change they are always receptive, and often intrigued to hear more!  Everyone seems to love photography and our name rings that bell!  There is an obvious connection with cameras, but when we explain on a deeper level how the camera can do so much, there is a delightful reaction.  Just like the magic of seeing an image come to life in a tray of developer, little by little a transformation takes place through the simple process of working in a group with cameras.

Our recent workshop here in Vancouver was no exception.  When kids have cameras they have fun there is no doubt, but there are so many other subtle things happening at the same time.  They are forced to focus in the moment, and by doing that a whole domino effect takes place.  They are continually interacting with not only themselves, but their environment and each other.  They may need assistance with the camera, so they ask a leader, or friend; they want to share what they see through their lens and continually reach out to others around them.  They gain knowledge of the camera and that builds skill and understanding that can be accessed again, and also applies to learning in other areas.  Their sense of pride and self is strengthened through this very simple process.  It really does distill down to “connecting”, the hand on a shoulder, talking with each other in authentic ways, sharing, caring and taking the time to simply be there.  We could even call it Connecting 4Change!

 

These are images from the participants, the ways they approach the world with the camera can also be applied to life!9 Margaret Dixon 03492. checking out what’s growing in the garden. Margaret Dixon9 Margaret Dixon 03203. Fun with a “selfy”. Margaret Dixon

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4. Looking up.  Margaret Dixon7 Seraphina Lalonde  0213

5. Learning the ropes together on the 1st day.  Seraphina Lalonde7 Seraphina Lalonde  01995. Looking at things from a different perspective!  Seraphina Lalonde

That’s a Wrap!

Today we wrapped up our summer camp workshop, watched the youth graduate from the PIMS program at UBC in an informal but moving ceremony in the UBC Longhouse. We were able to present them with their cameras along with a Nikon bag and some great Nikon swag! Cameras were out and in use straight away! We are very proud that the workshop went so well with these kids who were truly amazing creatively, and fun to work with. We want to thank everyone of the volunteers and the corporate support from Nikon Canada and The Camera Store! Also our partners through PIMS, Le Chou, The Evergreen Foundation and The Grandview Food Connection, together we accomplished a lot! Kids have cameras and we love it!! Here are a few of them with their swag! Thanks to Sadia Ibriham for the phone shots!

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Summer in the City with C4C

We are nearly finished our first ever local C4C workshop here in Vancouver!  Working with 20 youth through the Britannia Community Education Services in East Vancouver with our partners The Good Forks & Le Chou,  Evergreen BC and The Grandview Woodland Food Connection has been wonderful in so many ways!  This large gregarious group of 10-13 yr olds have a level of creativity that is “catching” as they whole-heartedly jumped into using the cameras in very energetic ways!  The imagery they made was amazing and we are posting an entire gallery here of the workshop and the students working! Thanks again to equipment support supplied by Nikon Canada and The Camera Store in Calgary!  You guys rock getting the cameras into the hands of these youth, many who had never photographed before.  This Friday will be their graduation ceremony and we will be posting some more photos with some happy kids!  More thanks to C4C volunteer Sarah Whitlam, Shane Morgan and facilitators Kimberley French and Cate Cameron!!

PS: soon to come is more of the students work, for now you can view Week 1 work on our Facebook pageBCSD20025 BCSD20024 BCSD20023 BCSD20022 BCSD20021 BCSD20020 BCSD20019 BCSD20018 BCSD20017 BCSD20016 BCSD20015 BCSD20014 BCSD20013 BCSD20012 BCSD20011 BCSD20010 BCSD20009 BCSD20008 BCSD20007 BCSD20006 BCSD20005 BCSD20004 BCSD20003 BCSD20002 BCSD20001

Our First Vancouver Workshop!!

This is exciting, tomorrow C4C will be running it’s first ever “local” workshop right here in Vancouver!  It will be a wonderful opportunity to connect with 20 inner city urban kids aged 10-13 as part of their day-camp curriculum at Brittania Secondary School in East Van!  The cameras are all charged and raring to go like a little team all on their own!!

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Big thanks to our supporters at Nikon Canada for supplying the cameras and also to The Camera Store in Calgary who have kindly donated 8 gig Panasonic cards.  Kimberley French, Thea Grivakes and Cate Cameron will be facilitating along with some great peeps at Brittania (Sadia, Mitra and Mike) Can’t wait to get them out shooting in beautiful sunny Van!!!  Stay tuned!!

The C4C team!!

 

#worldpopulationday

 

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A 12 year old Pokot girl with her 3 day old babyLikaMom

A Young mom in Lika HaitiTeenPregnancyA 16 year old girl pregnant after being assaulted by adults that were meant to be her caretakers – Kenya

Today is World Population Day, with this years theme being Teenage Pregnancy. Cameras4Change has been involved with this theme for the past few years as we have been working first hand with East African girls directly affected by this. Whether it is a cultural practice to marry girls as young as 9, or through conflict, war, and rape, girls are often the first to suffer and the ones most affected in the long term. We applaud the efforts of the UN to bring attention to this and want to stand in unison with the many organizations and individuals working tirelessly to bring awareness and change to the all too many lives that are at risk.

As we move forward in our efforts through programs dedicated to the transformation of challenged youth both here in Canada and again in 2014 internationally, we hope you will keep in touch with our plans and join us to make a difference through the amazing power of photography workshops, allowing individuals the opportunity to raise self awareness, advocate and move forward with self determination and an enhanced creative outlook.http://cameras-4-change.org/donate-2/

What about you?

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When I was young I spent hours pouring over family photo albums.  I recreated the same when my own family was young.  At one point trading my then slr (notice no “d”) camera for a top of the line point and shoot that would fit in with the diaper bag!  Photos had presence and meaning in my life, and in my family’s too.  This all became vividly evident a couple of months ago when my own mother became terminally ill and then passed within a couple of weeks in April.  At the time I spent every hour with her, in the hospital, then at home.  I, who normally had days packed to the hilt found myself absolutely present, with no agenda other than what my mother would want and need.  I recorded photo, video and voice during a few brief periods when she recounted some of her own childhood memories and family stories.  Then after her passing my eldest daughter and I again poured through family photos in an effort to distill her life into a slide show to play at a family celebration of her life.  This slideshow evoked so much memory, emotion, and joy for everyone that attended.   People watched it over and over, and, it of course made me aware of how this experience would have been so different if we had no photos, or if they had been lost in some way forever.

Yesterday I received a small envelope in the mailbox, containing some new photos of my mother, along with some extremely old shots of my great grandmother and her parents, my great-great grandparents.  Allessandro and Eugenia Ferrera Catrano from Baio Dora Italy were people I never knew, and yet I can see myself in their faces and we are undeniably linked.

Photos shape our lives and create a mosaic and grounding that we may be unaware of as we can take for granted the access that we have to imagery, cameras, photography and photos.  We at C4C believe that it is all too important and this is a strong element at the core of what we work towards.

This summer we are organizing some local workshops with partners here in Vancouver and we are also working towards creating new partners in Canada.  We have not forgot the opportunities to work out in the bigger world and are setting our sights further afield again in 2014.  We hope all of our supporters will continue to join us on these amazing journeys.

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My Grandfather’s uncles as young men create a composite of my own grandfather’s face.

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My Great Grandmother (Lidia in the black dress) with her parents in Italy, her own young face is reminiscent of my mother as a child and some of my own children too.

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last but not least my own Mother, Faye Nelson (R) with her two cousins, Mary-Kay Stortini (L) and Jeff Pollack (C), Lidia was grandmother to all!

What they want

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When we first decided to run photo workshops in Kenya, we had a very long list of what we wanted, we had some really lofty goals, which I am very happy to relay that we were able to accomplish.  Cameras4Change is proud of what the digital camera workshops can build in to the curriculum, we know that there are some key fundamental skills, lots of community building, self awareness and loads more that goes along with sparking creativity through photography.  We took alot of time to consider different ways to ignite specific pathways of thought, and to get them freeflowing with their creative juices.  When the workshops were in full throttle we gave specific assignments and urged the participants to push themselves, but afterwards we realized that the opportunity to photograph what gave them meaning in life was not that different from any other teens. What we forgot about was the plain and simple truth of allowing them to photograph what they wanted to, that being themselves with their friends, because the value of that was actually pretty huge.    We looked at this as a visual architecture of their own history, and knowing the importance of that in our own lives, it is not that mysterious that they would be doing this right away and as much as possible once they had a camera in their hands!  It gave them joy, it made them forget for a while what all of the difficulties were in their lives, it made things seem all the more possible, and afterwards when they actually held the photos that they took there was even more excitement.  Simple and effective.

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Community Happens

Community happens where ever we are on many different levels, from family and loved ones, to friends through school, online, and probably many more places.  We at Cameras 4 Change celebrate community in all of it’s forms.  We continually make new friends and add to our community, and often photography is a part of making, creating and celebrating community.  As we come together for different reasons, graduation, birthdays, weddings, reunions, we may take for granted the ease at which we can utilize cameras, phones, photography and imagery to architect our own stories, and give us a well seated place in our own history.  Just think to the many times you were able to look at family photo albums, knowing and understanding your past in a deeper way.  This ultimately gives a firm footing of self and how you move forward in the world.

One of the greatest parts of the C4C workshops is giving those that don’t have this opportunity the chance to use cameras, take the pictures that they want and keep those memories activated.  The joy alone that we saw on the girls faces as they handled the photos that they created is worth it for us!  In fact our team witnessed the moving evolution of the emotional reaction to being able to take photos and keep them.  It swiftly begins to build in a level of self that is quite profound.  We saw some girls transform from quiet, disengaged participants, to joyous, excited participants.  The level of engagement was palpable and really validated the power of photography, creativity and expression, and magnified what we were able to do with the children.

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Sol Garcia shows students at Heshima Kenya digital imagery and they can’t wait to get started!

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Taking pictures of close friends was definitely at the top of the list for girls that have been dislocated from family.  Top: Heshima Kenya, Bottom, Maasai Girls Education Fund

Our first set of C4C grads at Heshima Kenya, all holding their cameras!

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Girls from the Kajiado Educational Center/Maasai Girls Education Fund after finishing the workshop!

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Going home with the camera was very exciting!!  One participant taking shots as the school mini bus takes them home!

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