Our Partners are making us Proud!

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Our lives expand in so many different ways, whether we tend to them or not, things will change.  So it is with the seeds that we have planted through Cameras4Change too!  We could not be prouder of the many accomplishments that have taken place in the past couple of years since we began this journey.  Our last workshop in Mexico City in June was the result of an ongoing collaboration between C4C and three different partners there.  Sometimes we don’t always know what will happen when we begin working with a new partner, but we are sure that the experience and work we do in these initial projects will be worthwhile in itself.  To our delight however, the partners in Mexico have taken things to an all new level, using our photo workshop model and incorporating it into their programs and proving the sustainability and legacy of what we envisioned from the beginning is possible!  Since the original workshop in June, Proyecto ConcentrArte has utilized the cameras gifted to the Paz Paz Bus for a number of different workshops in other areas in .Mexico, Huamantla and incorporated them into a longterm annual project they participate in every September in Cuatro Cienegas, a Mexican biological reserve.  This past week we learned that the cameras will now be used in a very interesting eco-project in Balancán Tabasco Mexico. Cameras4Change friend Shiara Gonzales, a veterinarian will be giving guided tours to groups of 9-12 year olds, touring them into the jungles where the Saraguato Monkey lives.  The Saraguato Monkey is an endangered species and the children will photograph the monkeys and their habitat as a way to explore their importance and where they live.  We love how the cameras continue to be utilized in new and creative ways, but more importantly that they continue to live on in meaningful projects, and others continue to experience the art and joy of photography, and tell their own stories in their own ways.

ecologiamono

Segunda Semana Internacional del Mono Saraguato Negro – Balancán, Tabasco, México

This is the ethos of cameras4change, community, learning, changing and growing!

The “Real” Real Housewives of San Miguel

This is part 1 of a series of stories to introduce you to the real lives of the women of San Miguel.

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Picturesque San Miguel Valley with Ajusco in the background

Meet Guille, Eusebia, Lidia and Gloria.   Women living in San Miguel, a barrio on the sw edge of Mexico City, with real life drama big enough to compete with a certain namesake.  The lives are real, the drama is big, and the stakes are too.  These women are too busy surviving in a community where they have to fight for the right to have water, services, land, homes to live in, education for their families, and more, than to give a thought to fast cars, haute couture and mani-pedi’s.

My last day in DF found me in the heat of a community story that was playing out in real time as I sat for an amazing lunch set out by the ladies. I have visited this community a number of times during my past 2 trips to work with Isla Urbana, an organization that works to provide water through rainwater harvesting systems (RHS).  However, Isla Urbana do so much more, they know the families they work with in a much deeper way than one might think.  Jenny White, one of the directors has been visiting Guille and families in this community weekly over the past few years, and has come to be very nearly a part of the family; babies are often named after this woman! She knows their life stories, their trials and tribulations, and every way in which they have had to struggle and overcome in order to make their lives better.

Ajusco

We walked through the breathtakingly beautiful San Miguel, the Ajusco as a backdrop, picture perfect with cornfields and a valley.  In this area where community members have scraped together enough money to buy small plots of land, only to have the district deny their right to “be” in what they term an illegal or irregular zone, you can see both the beauty and the struggle of life.  Homes have been built, families raised, and still the basic services have been hard won.  Water is a huge issue, and so the community banned together under the guidance of Guille Morales Alazar, a women who has become somewhat of a role model, a community leader in her own right.  When there is a problem, the women in this community look to Guille for guidance.

 

Guille heard about RHS, and wanted one installed in her home, she now helps to organize other families so that they too can have enough water for their households.  Jenny While has been working the region, organizing for installs, educating families on the use of the RHS, and so knows intimately the status quo in this valley.  

Next instalment:  “Guille – community matters” 

1. Ajusco

2. San Miguel

3. Guille (left) gives advice

4. Eusebia

5. Lidia waves from her front gate

6. Gloria

7. Ladies Lunching together with Jenny White and Guilles grandaughter with friend

8. Walking through the valley in San Miguel

W4 – Water Wednesday Women helping Women

Alot happens in a week.  I thought I would be writing a post about a reality check badly needed as I watched my city burn a week ago from people rioting in the streets of Vancouver after the Stanley Cup Final.  I took in a view from my balcony that kind of surprised me, but sadly the truth was before my eyes.  Yes there has been rioting all over the world of recent, for things like basic human rights, government oppression and human torture, yet they were rioting and looting in Vancouver because the city had set up giant TV screens for all to watch the hockey game, booz, a sense of self rightousness amongst a privileged few with a lack of good judgement caused the riots in Vancouver with the added excuse of losing the hockey game.  Enough said.

Thankfully alot does happen in a week, and I am excited to see progress and gain in another part of the world where people struggle on a daily basis to find things like, water capable of drinking without inciting illness and disease, and money to buy enough food to feed your family.  Earlier this year I visited a small community in the Rift Vally with Greg Algood of CSDW where a kiosk was being set up by another arm of P&G.  Women were being given business training on how to run the kiosk and sell various sundries in small amounts.  This is so positive, it is micro business on a different scale as it introduces products that women would not necessarily be able to purchace.  Kind of like when we go to a warehouse store but can’t buy the big lots of bulk products, they can’t afford to buy even a regular size package of something, it needs to be broken down into small amounts.  I love the concept as it opens up vertical possibilities for many people in need, and helps women to help thier families.  They sell many simple household products in ways that make them available and affordable, this is not necessarily something new in Kenya, but it is new that a large corporation is taking the initiative here, and providing the support to kickstart it in the form of business training, and other needed infrastructure.  They also provide water at the kiosk which has already been treated and is clean and safe!

Setting up a kiosk and providing business training to local women

Treating the water from the Sandu River

Crystal Clear and ready to Drink!

Why I Do It…

The girl in this photo wants to go to school…badly.

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This is the reason I do it.  I would way, way rather spend my time focused on the plethora of reasons of what I need to do to help, rather than watch Survivor, The Voice, or whatever else people are watching on TV these days, go to the mall (never unless I absolutely HAVE to), or spend hours creeping around on Facebook or any other chat rooms. 

 

I guess I am one of those people that beleives we, yes I mean the collective group of citizens that live in a “have” nation, have an actual”capital R” Responsibility to do something to make a difference in this world.  That could be locally, or out there.  My personal resonance is with working out there in the world.  There are many that do not want to leave home and can do something locally.  I have a strong urge to showcase and help to educate people close to me as to what it is like in places that have a deeper struggle.  To connect people in ways they maybe didn’t think there was a connection.  Communities in Zambia, Haiti, etc, that is my hook.

 

My most recent work around FGM could never truly take place here in Vancouver, Canada.  I have been asked why I, a Canadian should be doing this.  My reply is, because it needs to be done, it has been presented to me, I have become involved when others have not, so it is my job.

 

Today I am making a donation with money I have raised to Project X Impact, to help the girls we have been working with in Kenya to secure another year of education.  Sol Garcia has set a goal of $500 in name of her birthday this June.  PLEASE JOIN US!!