Cameras4Change in Thailand – a volunteer’s story

Early this May, volunteer extraordinaire Justin Yapp partnered with C4C to run a program in Thailand!  We loaned Justin a workshop in a backpack! He took a small lowepro backpack with 10 Nikon Coolpix cameras, cards and a thumbdrive containing all of the essential information to run a C4C photoworkshop.  It was exciting to get his newsupdates and photos from the kids, so much so that we asked him to do a guest blog post and here it is!

This past June, myself and four other young adults from Vancouver ventured off to Chiang Rai, Thailand to volunteer at Baan Nam Jai (BNJ) also known as Home of the Open Heart– an orphanage developed for kids who have been affected by HIV.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 10.23.39 PMDuring the kid’s summer break, we organized various activities such as swimming in a river, venturing through a night safari, walking at night markets, and after partnering with Cameras 4 Change, we were able to include photography.
These kids were able to express themselves through photography where words could not be expressed. Their passion, desire to be heard, love for their surroundings and love for one another are seen through their photographs.
Everyday we picked a topic such as shadows, favourite spots, plants, and friends and they eagerly ran up to us to show what they came up with… including multiple selfies. I remember one of the boys showing me a photograph that he took of his favourite spot in the orphanage and why it was important to him.
I am extremely impressed by their perseverance, hope, and outlook in life despite being marginalized and going through hardships at an early age. It was a privilege to be able to share that time with them and to be able to see things from their perspective through photography.
Thanks Cameras 4 Change for making this activity possible!

IMG_2416 IMG_2468 IMG_2739 IMG_2742 IMG_7993 IMG_7996 IMG_8001 IMG_8007 P1030708

 

Venus and Mars are alright!

Lots is happening and it can be hard to keep up.  Venus has been undergoing some really wierd transit thing between the sun and us, I mean, there is lots going on!  In the meantime we are in almost full throttle prep stage on a number of things.  First and foremost e are in contact and reaching out to our partners in Kenya to confirm which ones we will be working with, and are now hoping to run 2 different workshops there for girls affected by fgm.  Dates are yet to be confirmed but we are looking at December 2012 or early 2013.  This is going to be a huge undertaking, and we are really working hard to get the groundwork in place.

Cameras4Change exhibit GHOSTS&DREAMS:WaterWomen&HIV has been accepted and curated into the AIDS2012 Global Village this July in Washington DC, so we are also working to get the show produced and ready to go to DC to meet with the world! 

Dsc_9264

The last peice of exciting news is that Cameras4Change will again be working to bring awareness to the Water Crisis in Mexico City.  Isla Urbana, an amazing organization in DF that we worked with last November has asked us to return to cover new projects they are installing in San Miguel and Xoxhimilco in DF.  We will be photographing and providing key imagery to increase awareness.  It was such a joy to work with Enrique, David and Jenny, they are such cool cats and I can not wait to get back. 

That is the update for now peeps!  Keep it mad real!

Xoxhimilco

Xoxchimilco is like the Vencie of Mexico City, canals, and gondaliers with floating gardens.  There are however huge problems with the distribution of water, more stories to come on this!

 

The Good Shepherd

Two days ago I was invited through Project X Impact to visit an HIV/AIDS project in Nyeri near Mnt Kenya.  In 1996 a caring Kenyan woman named Jane who was a community health worker saw a need in an area that was becoming ravaged by the deadly virus.  Children with lost parents, themselves HIV+, families torn up, and a community in despair.  Jane could not turn her back and she decided to do something.  She gathered what she could in clothing, bedding, and food donations and moved forward with her plan to do what she could.  Before long she had help from other Kenyans.  The community came along and ws engaged in educating and lobbying for the violated rights of the orphans living with HIV/AIDS. They acquired thier legal status in 2000, and through the offices of teh District Social Services began to provide a feeding programme to supplement the diets of those children in need as well as try to provide other basic needs.  The local government also came forward to help construct a safe home where The Good Shepherd Project could operate from, and building work began.  They also received a donation of land to grow bananas.  But before long an election changed everything, the new DC thought this was not worthy of funding and so a shell of a building exists. 

Still Jane soldiers on trying to support 769 HIV orphans, fostered in different homes, some grannies trying to care for as many as 9 children with little food, unsafe water and dealing with sick children. 

Her spirit is undaunted and she will find the help she needs.  Sometimes it is the Nairobi business community, and Sunday I witnessed Kenyans helping Kenyans as a group of Nairobians came together to see what they could do.  They brought food, bedding and hope.  They want to fund raise to finish construction and form an adopt a child program called Pacha (twin in Swahilli).  They are led by Michael Mwai.  There were many Heros I saw this day. Other locals that now live in Nairobi that have returned to help like Anthony Kiai who often gets urgent phone calls to round up food.  But not least was 10 year old Brian Machirak, a young boy that has lost his mother to HIV, his Father abandoning he and his siblings upon learning his + status, and leaving Brian with his elderly grandmother and 8 other children to deal with the consequences and pain of a disease that is taking it’s toll.

 

If you would like to find out more about PACHA and The Good Shepherd Orphan Project or to help, please contact Michael Mwai at michael.mwai@gmail.com

or goodshepherdorphansp@gmail.com

 

Images

The Good Shepherd Orphan Project

Jane the Program Director, she saw a need

Children reaching to say hello before feeding time

Feeding time at The Good Shepherd Orphan Project

BrianMachira, 10, his Grandmother Wangui Machira that looks after 9 children and his cousin Grace Wabura, 9.

Michael Mwai, a Kenyan Entrepreneur/Humanitarian, bringing Kenyans together to help Kenyans