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!

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Day 2 at a glance – or “The Beauty of Quiltepec”

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The second day of the C4C program in Quiltepec took place on Sunday June 8.  It was rewarding to see the participants return with as much or more enthusiasm.  Two girls had to race to be on time, coming from a function at their school, their mother came later to sit and talk with us, she wanted us to know how much they were enjoying the program, and how they were running to get there as soon as possible!

Working in informal communities can often be catch them if you can!  Members have so many challenges to life, and Quiltepec is no stranger to this.  So you know that you are doing something right if they come back!  They are however, fiercely proud of the paradise that they live in, and many of the participants photos showed just that, the beauty of Quiltepec.  Quiltepec is nesteled high above the south end of Mexico City, the community members have an astounding array of gardens, plants, trees and flowers, along with an equally large assortment of animals: sheep, cows, horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, and chickens.

But the heart of this community lies in the way they live, work and support each other together.  This is the familiar way in Mexico, values are deep for family and community, you make things happen together.  So apparent in the way our workshop came together, we needed a tarp up, and electricity, we asked Silvia one the community leaders, and of course it happened!

We are so fortunate to be welcomed into this incredible community, this place of beauty!  Thank you to all who are making this happen from the participants, the community leaders (especially Silvia, Maura and Elena) our ground partners (IRRI, Sistema Biobolsa, Isla Urbana, ConcentrArte) and our partners Nikon Canada, Fluevog Shoes, and  Porticus!  Un Buen Dia!

Thea Grivakes distributes a file to each of the students with their photos from the first day! Always exciting.

PPBWS DAY 2_0003Elena looking at her portrait and shots that she took on day 1.

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Lalo, Maura, a community member and Guillermo pose for a shot.PPBWS DAY 2_0008

Lily reviews and gives tips from a prepared slideshow.

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Students chose themes to work from for the dayPPBWS DAY 2_0038Off they go to shoot!

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Reviewing and editing work with the studentsPPBWS DAY 2_0045 PPBWS DAY 2_0062

The end of the day group shot!!PPBWS DAY 2_0015

Nely and Carlos, two of the young adults that attended – both very talented!PPBWS DAY 2_0019

Silvia brought some beautiful flowers to us to take home.PPBWS DAY 2_0021

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Rachel with Silvia, a strong community leader and pretty great photographer too!PPBWS DAY 2_0086 Lily says goodbye to Silvia, we form such strong bonds working in these places.

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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