a peace of life workshop wrapped up with a village exhibit to showcase our students’ best shots…each photographer got a chance to talk about their photo essay and share more about their experience
over 100 people in the community including the village chief and government official, were on hand to celebrate…many were emotionally moved by the photos
Explaining his choice for best pic was one of our guest judges, Dominique Habimana, AEBR Youth President, with the photographer, Germaine. Her photo essay was on the environment.
We look forward to collaborating with AEBR Youth Committee on future projects including a youth peace camp in November 2o10. We hope to have some of our young photographers also participate in this event.
Coming soon…a website featuring the young photographers and their photo essays.
Help us raise funds for more youth media projects including a peace camp. Post a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
On the road by 4 am…we treated our young photographers to a surprise field trip, a safari through Akagera National Park. The journey starts with a prayer for safety – much needed as we twisted up and down dark mountain roads in thick, early morning fog.
The field trip was a great way to conclude our workshop. We wanted to reward our “gafotozi” for their remarkable work and expose them to some of the incredible and diverse beauty of their country. Rwanda is quickly becoming known as an eco-tourism destination.
Our new photojournalists hang out the windows to get the perfect shot…we were amazed by the wildlife we saw…everything from antelope to zebra. It was a day that we will all fondly remember. As one student put it, “I am so happy. So very, very happy.”
We spent much of the last two nights preparing for our photo exhibit to be held in the village. As a group, we voted on which 5 photos from each photographer would be featured. Thanks to one of our supporters (the Soucys, CBM field staff in Rwanda), we were able to print out the photos with a portable printer.
See our next blog posting for what happens on the day of the exhibit!
We spent the rest of the week with our 5 young photographers. Each was given a digital camera (thanks to generous donors in Canada) and a challenge: “Take as many pictures as possible, at all times of the day, to develop your proposed theme.”
Each photographer came up with their own idea for a photo documentary. Pictured left to right: Olivier wanted to create more awareness of HIV and AIDS; Princess, to present profiles of people who are important in her life; Claudine, to highlight sewing (a skill she recently learned through the Children of Hope program); Anthony, to feature village life; and Germaine, to focus on the the environment.
They quickly and fondly became known as “gafotozi” – “small photographer” in Kinyarwanda – by people in the village as they wandered around taking photos.
Every morning we met to look at and discuss all photos taken the previous day. This peer review became a fun, interactive and popular way to learn and share key basics of photography and it helped us get to know and trust each other. It was combined with training in some more advanced concepts. The workshop was facilitated by Johnny Lam (pictured right), a professional photographer from Canada who has a passion for working with disadvantaged youth. He generously volunteered his time to work on this project. Drop by his blog for more photos!
“Decaying before your eyes” is the phrase that first comes to mind about our classroom, a poor, one-room church with no adornments save one simple drawing etched in the mud wall; red dirt floors that kicked up large dust clouds when kids danced their welcome; and a sliver of a tin roof pockmarked with rusting holes which together with the crumbling walls intermittently let in rays of sun and showers of rain.
But for us, it was the perfect spot. For the next few days, this rural church became our home base. It is located in a remote village in the southeast region (near Kibungo) and lacks not only basic infrastructure (sorry, no electricity, but water is a short walk away) but also opportunities for youth.
A group of orphans and other vulnerable children, including our student photographers, meet regularly with the pastor and other community mentors at the church for encouragement and support. They have started to call themselves Future Hope and are part of an international program called Children of Hope (COH). Esperance Niyigena, COH manager in Rwanda, is loved by the children and is a good mentor and advocate. She was a crucial presence and participant in our workshop, and became our translator, event coordinator/fixer, and good friend.
Pictured left to right: laurena, a peace of life co-founder with members of a youth-headed family and Esperance, children of hope manager, rwanda.
Together we spent the afternoons visiting homes in the community. It was a privilege to visit not only with our student photographers, their family, friends and neighbours, but also to meet some of the others living in child/youth-headed households. They shared their stories with us – heartbreaking yet hopeful accounts of how they are courageously coping with everything from the after effects of genocide (especially the lingering trauma), to the continuing rampage of poverty and disease like HIV and AIDS.
We thank our students, their families, children of hope, the pastor and the community for opening their lives to us. We hope the creative work of these youth will raise more awareness about the issues they face and lead to more opportunities for youth in Rwanda and other countries in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
We also thank our supporters in Canada. You are so crucial to the continuing success of this project to encourage, empower and equip youth to work for peace through communications and the arts. Thanks so much for your generousity.
God bless each of you. Have a very Merry Christmas!
Check in over the holidays for our next posting, news of the surprising turn of events on the last two days of the workshop.
p.s. Nearly 600 kids living in child/youth-headed households are supported by COH in this region. It’s one of three pilot projects launched by CBM, one of our sponsors, and the AEBR, our host partner. Learn more about this innovative program at www.cbmin.org
Our first a peace of life workshop in Rwanda was all about fun. Many songs and dances by children and youth living in child-headed households officially opened this special event held the last week of November in a remote village in the Kibungo region.
Expecting around 160 children and youth, over 270 showed up, some walking long distances to participate in this special event. Group games helped create lots of laughter and team spirit. Afterwards, working in teams, youth created and presented poignant skits and dramas on what causes conflict in their community. Coming soon to this blog: video clips featuring their presentations.
The day concluded with 5 youth selected to participate in an intensive photography workshop for the rest of the week. More about this event in our next posting – but what resulted after five days was simply astounding, so stay tuned for photos and video clips from this exciting time.