Xochimilco Workshop with Isla Urbana

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Today was the first of 2 workshops here in different communities in Mexico City with our partners Isla Urbana!  Late this afternoon, Jennifer White of Isla Urbana and  I headed to a wonderful community high in the hills that flag the edges of DF  San Francisco is a community of needs within the delegacion of Xochimilco.  Isla Urbana are implementing a rainwater harvesting project here to satisfy the needs, and part of the overall process is to also provide cultural experiences within those communities.  This helps to solidify a bond with their clients, and also assists in solidifying the success of their programs.  We are delighted to provide creative experiences through photography.  When I asked the 20 participants ranging in age from 5 years to 72! ( yes there was a delightful 72 year old woman that came to our workshop) who had held a camera before, not one put up their hand.  They were so excited to get the cameras and we couldn’t help but smile.  One small boy who was going to share a camera with his mother had huge tears in his eyes and so of course we gave him his own camera to use!

Today was all about getting to know each other a little and introducing photography and cameras to the group, then we let them take the cameras to the streets for the first time.  Tomorrow we will be focusing on portraits.  I will be posting more as I can, it is a very busy workshop as there is only myself and one assistant with 20 people!!

Many thanks towards all of our tribe of supporters, from all of the individuals who have participated in our funding events, to our corporate partners, Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, Sandisk, and Lowepro.  We couldn’t do it without you!

 

Below:  20 cameras tagged and ready to go out into the world, that would be 20 Nikon Coolpix point and shoot housed in some sweet little Lowepro bags and holding 8gig cards from Sandisk, thank you!

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International Women’s Day 2012

I want to give my heart and gratitude to all of the amazing women in my life, right now the women that have been involved with forming Cameras4Change are an amazing group of diversely creative and talented beautiful ladies!  Thank you!!  This day brings into focus that one of the key ways to bring transformation to communities that need change, is through working with and supporting the women.  I have seen that and experienced it first hand working hand in hand with partners throughout the world. 

Below is an image of the women of Blue Hills in Haiti whom I met and allowed me to photograph them.  The experience was amazing, they all lined up and one by one waited to have thier portrait taken, with help I got each name and created this as a gift back to them.  It was such an intimate process to look into all of thier eyes while taking the picture, I felt connected.  At the time they lived in an area that had only 3 wells, of which only 1 worked part of the time, and even then the water was not safe to drink. CAWST has since been working in partnership with PAIDEH on a Bio Sand Filter project, training some of the women to become local technicians!

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Here is a link to a small collection of images that I exhibited a couple of times last year, the photos are with text but I think can speak for themselves.  Enjoy and express your thanks today to women in your life! http://www.catecameron.com/#Portfolio/Stories/Ghosts&Dreams/1

 

My Heartfelt thanks to: Barb Briggs, Sol Garcia, Christina Gomez, Erica Duff, Thea Grivakes, Gillian Harrow, Kimberley French, Sofie Marricks, Donnalee Langton, Katherine Craig, Elyssia Patterson, Melanie Jones, Roberta McDonald, and countless more women whom have aided and assisted us.

Do You Give a SH_T? You Should, its World Toilet Day!

As you leave your bathroom and maybe curse because there is no toilet paper left, consider yourself lucky cus you have a toilet that works!  For many people in the world, there is no option of a private toilet facitliy, or even any toilet facility.  They may hike into the nearby woods, fields, or nearest water source, stream or river to relieve themselves.  Not only is this undignified, but it is also a leading cause of illness and disease.  World Toilet Day is highlighting the need for much more awareness and support that is necessary to make a change, and for people to have the ability to use toilets or facilities that are safe and hygenic, and not contributing to illness and disease.

If you have not given to any causes this year, please consider a donation to an organization that works in water and sanitation.  Here are some of my favorite orgs that help to raise safety in sanitation throughout the world.

CAWST – www.cawst.org

A Calgary based organization that has made huge strides over the past decade in the lives of millions!

SOIL     – www.oursoil.org

Based in Haiti, they turn human waste into black gold with a composting outhouse!  Brilliant!

IRRI      –www.sistemabiobolsa.org or www.irrimexico.org

their Biobolsa bag turns animal waste into fuel for cooking and fertilizer – I think that might be a double dip for renewable resources!

It doesn’t have to be much, any size donation will make you feel amazing, try it and see!

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!.  SOIL works in Haiti where there is a huge need for so much work to be done in the sanitation arena.  I first witnessed their efforts here in Shada, a slum area in Northern Haiti in the city of Cap-Haitian.

2. The Indominitable Sasha Kramer, SOIL is her baby, and their work has become an important stepping stone in changing the lives of Haitians, now based in Port-au-Prince and working in areas like Site Soley, they offer an amazing system to answer the need of toilets, sanitation, and renewing waste into a useful fertilizer.

3. The Biobolsa in DF Mexico, I love what this 10 meter bio bag can do. You can see it behind myself and Jen White of Isla Urbana who are partnering with thier sister organization IRRI/Sistema Biobolsa to change animal waste into fuel and fertilizer!

4.  You put it in one end and in 5 weeks you can fuel a cookstove 24/7 as well as increase your crops with a rich compost/fertilizer that also comes out the other end!

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

The Women of Blue Hills

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FANM YO BLUE HILLS

In late August I arrived at a small rural community on the edge of Cap-Haitian in northern Haiti.  Nothing could have prepared me for the reception, we arrived to a room of 90 women, they clapped and sang beautifully to us, bringing tears to our eyes right away.  They had been waiting most of the day in the hot Haitian sun, our plane was delayed and then our drivers got lost on the way to Blue Hills.  But when we arrived it was all worth it, the drama that unfolded matched the moody skies as dark heavy storm clouds, lightening and thunder danced around us.  We were there to talk to them about their lives, their worries and sorrows, and how water played a part in all of that.  I quickly decided to do a mass portrait session with them, and this poster is a tribute to the women of Blue Hills.