Another Friday Fun Photo – Guess what happened split seconds after this photo was taken? Lots of fun – and soaking wet bodies – as camp leaders and youth splash the water around, enjoying some refreshment after an afternoon of planting trees and picking up garbage on the grounds of our host school. It was all part of a workshop on peace and the environment at last year’s peace camp.
Planting trees is an important part of helping to conserve the natural, beautiful environment of Rwanda as well as replace trees used as firewood for cooking. Every November, Rwanda launches a national tree-planting campaign to encourage environmental conservation and awareness.
Many youth peace clubs, including Club Unity in Mubago, are including the planting of trees in their peace-building activities. They are finding that it’s an easy and practical way to bring everyone in the village together to do a community activity as well as open a way to talk about other crucial issues they can work on together. Sometimes there is even a sharing of personal stories and an opportunity to offer forgiveness and build reconciliation among neighbours. It’s inspiring to see youth lead the way in this ground-breaking work.
The peace camp is an annual event offered by A Peace of Life with local partners such as AEBR Youth. Plans are underway for Peace Camp 2012. Help sponsor youth peace-building in Rwanda by making a donation today.
As part of celebrating World Water Day, we’re also pleased to present a multimedia presentation on water. It was created by youth who participated in a photography workshop at peace camp 2011. The workshop was facilitated by Johnny Lam, a professional documentary photographer who volunteers his time and expertise with A Peace of Life. Johnny has launched Gafotozi, to help empower vulnerable youth to use photography in peace-building and storytelling. Enjoy the show!
*Photos in today’s post taken by some of the youth from the photography workshop
Pictured: The gafotozi exhibit at Love 4 Life, a youth arts event held by A Peace of Life in Kacyiru (Rwanda) as part of World AIDS Day 2010. Two of the photo essays focus on the personal impact of HIV and AIDS. They were created by 5 youth who participated in our first photography workshop in 2009 which resulted in the founding of Gafotozi by Johnny CY Lam, documentary photojournalist affiliated with A Peace of Life.
In December 2011, we returned to the same village where we held the first workshop and stayed with one of our gafotozi families most impacted by HIV. One morning, Johnny shot an incredible series of photos on the waking moments of the family – where mom and two of her children must take antiretroviral medication to remain alive and well.
The resulting photos became a powerful and moving photo essay by Johnny called 13: Living with HIV in Rwanda. The first 13 minutes of each day.
On March 16-29, 2012, his remarkable exhibit, along with photos from the gafotozi, will be on display at The Department, 1389 Dundas St. W., Toronto. Plan to attend. Contact us for more info.
As part of this special event, A Peace of Life will present short films by young filmmakers of Almond Tree Films Rwanda which show another challenge facing youth in Rwanda today – coping with the legacy left by the 1994 Tutsi Genocide which nearly destroyed their country. While much progress has been made over the years, trauma, mistrust and fear linger. These young filmmakers share stories of the pain, hope, love and courage behind peace and reconciliation. We also look forward to some surprise guests!
Pictured: Yves Montand, one of the young filmmakers of Almond Tree Films Rwanda, introduces the short film, Tears of Hope, at the opening of Peace Camp 2011. This film was produced from a script written – and acted – by youth who attended Peace Camp 2010. For the past two years, Almond Tree Films Rwanda has trained youth in filmmaking as part of the annual peace camps offered by A Peace of Life in partnership with AEBR Youth.
More news to be posted shortly on Peace Camp 2012!
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Little things make a world of difference!
I love this photo of a child cleaning the path in front of his house. It was taken by Anthony, one of the youth in our programs. It reminds me of the importance of caring about the little things – and little ones – that often go unnoticed. Ironically, it’s the little things in life that can make the biggest difference, good or bad, over time. What we say and do makes an impact on others. Through our projects, we strive to encourage youth to be a positive influence in their world. To understand that a big part of developing their own potential is in how they treat and care for others along the way.
Anthony is such an example. After the first camp (in 2010), he went on to start a peace club back in his village - Club Unity. On any given Saturday, anywhere from 100 -200 of the club members meet at a local church. Most have grown up in child/youth-headed households. They have become known in the community – even asked to help resolve difficult issues, such as a recent land dispute.
This past November at our second annual peace camp, Anthony and several other youth gave presentations on the peace clubs they have started. They shared their plans and progess as well as the challenges they continue to face. Top of the list was the need for more training and opportunities like the peace camp where they can meet, share and learn from each other. We have started planning for peace camp 2012!
After peace camp, Johnny Lam (a documentary photographer and partner of A Peace of Life) and I were thrilled to spend a week with Anthony and his family and the gafotozi back in the village where we held our first photography workshop. While we were there, we also had the chance to meet with the new peace club, Club Unity and hear of their plans which include expanding the savings and loan group they have started.
Anthony and his sister, Princess, were among the first group of young photographers to be trained by Johnny – who has since launched Gafotozi (which means young or small photographer in Kinyarwanda) to promote peace and youth empowerment through photography. The Gafotozi continue to be mentored by one of our amazing local volunteers, Timotee, a young teacher who assisted in the photography workshop at peace camp as well as led a session on entrepreneurship. We look forward to posting more of the work of the Gafotozi throughout the year!
Sneak peak: A photo by Johnny Lam of the Gafotozi at work on their peace camp project – a multimedia presentation. Stay tuned for our premiere of this piece during World Water Day!
In addition to photography, other workshops at peace camp included drama, film, sports for peace, community development and trauma/mental health. See more peace camp photos.
But the most powerful workshop at camp was the trauma/mental health session facilitated by Paulette Baraka.
“I thought I was the only one who had such big problems,” later shared Olivier, one of the youth. “At peace camp I was amazed to hear that others had the same problems in their life. It was really such a big help for me, you can’t believe how much. It changed me so much.”
Olivier is an example. Like his friend Anthony, he has had to cope with the impact of AIDS on his family. He dropped out of school to work and help support his mother, a widow who is HIV positive. He recently started his own small business and is one of leaders of Club Unity. He is also one of the youth trained as a Gafotozi. His first photo essay was on the impact of AIDS in the family.
Pictured: Impromptu computer class in the home of our hosts (Anthony and Princess, top right)
The gafotozi loved learning some computer and social media skills - thanks to Johnny’s training, wonderful donations of laptops and cameras, and the recent arrival of electricity in the village! We simply loved being with them and learning more about their daily life. We can’t say enough about their impact on us. They opened up their homes, and their lives. From early morning walks for water, to afternoons scrubbing the red mud off shoes, to hanging out late at night talking, we now have a deeper understanding and love for each other.
It really is a privilege to work among these youth. They inspire us. We’re proud of all that they have already accomplished. Their energy and hope is contagious as they persevere in the midst of big challenges. We hope they inspire you too.
We are now working with Paulette to develop and provide a workshop on trauma & counselling for youth. We hope to offer it to Anthony, Olivier and Club Unity in March, in the weeks leading up to the National Commemoration of the Tutsi Genocide, a time when much trauma and painful memories resurface.
We are also planning for the next peace camp to be held later this year and continuing to help fund and promote some of the events and media in the works by our local partners and youth peace catalysts.
Please make a donation today and help to support us in all of the little things we attempt to do this year among all these courageous youth in Rwanda. Together, we are making an impact!
Posted by Laurena Zondo, founder, A Peace of Life
AWOO….peace camp 2011 in Gisenyi was a big hit, especially the afternoon we walked to Lake Kivu – for most of the youth participants it was their first trip to the beach and a chance to try swimming and playing in the water. It was a wonderful way to end the morning session on trauma and mental health which was led by Paulette Baraka, a professional counsellor and psychologist who specializes in issues faced by orphans and vulnerable children. Paulette’s workshop was one of the highlights of camp.
Another highlight was the workshop on photography led by Johnny Lam. Five new gafotozi were added to the original crew. During the week they worked very hard to develop a multimedia presentation on “water” which they then premiered on the closing night of camp.
We also enjoyed the presentations of youth peace clubs including Solace Sowers, BBA, Club Unity (Mubago), Peace & Love Proclaimers.
We thank all of our donors and supporters who helped us to bring together double the number of youth from the first camp (held in 2010 in Nyange). This year, we were very happy to have almost 80 youth from across the country (and even a few participants from the Congo) for a week of learning, mentoring and fun through a variety of peace activities including drama, photography, scriptwriting and sports.
More news and photos from camp will be posted shortly.
A Friday Fun Foto…..girls in focus
We post this photo today in honour of the three women (two of whom are from Africa) who were awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Congratulations, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakul Karman (Yemen)! It’s a great acknowledgement of the crucial role of women in peace-building and community development. Through your work, you’ve highlighted the need to address issues of poverty and gender inequality as part of the peace process.
Pictured (left to right): Prencesse, Claudine, Germaine – three inspiring young women who are peacebuilders in Rwanda, and members of our gafotozi, learning to use the arts and media for social change.
Photo taken by Johnny Lam, documentary photojournalist, as part of our first photography workshop. Next month, he and the gafotozi will be at peace camp and also back in the village, working on more photo essays. We look forward to posting their new creative!
Land is at the root of most of the conflict in our world - not only disputes in who has the land or who wants control of the land, but also environmental and connected social justice issues, such as how we care for, and share in, the earth and all its resources.
We post this photo today in tribute of Wangari Maathai, an inspiring Kenyan woman who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work on the environment, women’s rights and transparent government. She passed away yesterday, on September 25th, but leaves behind a remarkable legacy including the founding of the Green Belt Movement which has planted an estimated 20-30 million trees in Africa.
The photo was taken by Germaine, an inspiring young girl in Rwanda who shares Wangari’s love and concern for peace and a healthy environment. Germaine loves to garden and hopes to become a doctor. She took this photo as part of her essay on “our relationship with the environment.” Her essay was one of a series of village photo essays by the gafotozi – youth who participated in our first photography workshop in 2009. They live in a region where large numbers of children have been orphaned by the Tutsi Genocide as well as AIDS. Many of these children became heads of their household and today they continue to struggle not only with poverty but also family land and property ownership issues.
Land issues will be some of the case studies to be explored by youth in our upcoming peace camp, to be held Nov. 20-26, in Gisenyi, a border town (Rwanda and DR Congo). Youth will put into practice some of their critical thinking and creativity skills to develop innovative and engaging ways to open dialogue and build common ground on crucial issues within the community, for peace and development.
Youth will also plant trees near our host school and mini gardens (vegetables-in-a-sack) for orphans as a meaningful expression of love and care for the environment and those most in need in the community.
Thanks, once again, to all who have contributed time, money and support to this youth peace media initiative. Please keep checking this blog to see your wonderful support in action!
p.s. The gafotozi will have the opportunity to train, once again, with Johnny Lam, a volunteer documentary photographer from Canada who led the first photography workshop. In the coming months, we look forward to posting some of their new photos and having an on-line gallery for purchase.
Famine doesn’t happen overnight. And you really don’t have to look very hard to see it coming. The writing has been on the wall….on the table….signs everywhere, that something is wrong and getting worse. For some families in East Africa, it’s been coming a long, long while now, with a series of droughts, wars, conflicts and all sorts of injustices adding insult to injury.
The slide from one meal a day to no food a day happens more often than we’d like to think in our world. Tragically though, it’s not until the terminal phase, when we see the skeleton bodies - children on the verge of starving to death or already succumbed – that the story seems to finally get out, capture our attention, however briefly. And once the story is out there…what is our response going to be? How long before we change the channel?
Cry me food….cry me justice.
I was appalled reading some recent comments posted to articles and stories that did manage to meander their way into the news and onto the blogs. Many of us seem content to simply rationalize the problem and the response away…..”they should be taking care of their own people”….”we don’t want to help the terrorists”….”the money will just get wasted”….”there’s too much corruption”….”I can’t make much of a difference”….”it’s not my problem”….
Really? But what if that was your child starving to death in your arms? My child buried on the run? I think we would be a lot less lethargic, less apathatic, less judgemental about the how’s and why’s of the crisis, and simply beg for a response. Any response. Now, please!
Lots can be done. Lots is being done. Lots more needs to be done, both now and long term with community development and leadership development. The training and empowerment of youth who will lead differently, live differently, share resources, work for peace, intervene, respond, will make a big difference. You can support them.
At our next peace camp, coming up in November, we are focussing on the issue of food security and entrepreneurship (including skills development in a small business) as a crucial part of peace-building. We hope to have a special guest share some of his experience from Dadaab, one of the world’s largest refugee camps, which has recently been overwhelmed with families fleeing from the famine in their homeland. Stay tuned for more news.
Please keep the families impacted by famine in your prayers and make a donation today to an organization involved in the relief.
About today’s photo: Anthony, one of our gafotozi, took this photo as part of his photo essay on village life. He was also one of the young photographers to help document our first peace camp. One of the outcomes of the peace camp was the formation of several peace clubs across the country. Anthony helped to start a club in his village in Kibungo region. Another club, Solace Sowers for Peace, began in Kacyiru (Kigali). On Sunday, July 24, they will be holding their second peace concert and raising funds for famine relief. Learn more.
Friday Fun Foto: Hello, BBA – welcome to the world! We’re pleased to announce the launch this Saturday, Mar. 12, of Basic Brilliant Africa (BBA) the very first student peace club at INATEK University, Kibungo, in eastern region of Rwanda. There’s going to be lots of singing and dancing!
If you’re in the area, don’t miss all the fun. Guest artists to perform include nationally known musicians as well as new artists from the grassroots, a new film, Maibobo (highlighting issue of street kids) by Almond Tree Films Rwanda and the gafotozi exhibit.
A peace of life is proud to be one of the participants and sponsors of this event.
Our Friday Fun Foto today: Creative use of water in a drought-prone region. It’s a fun photo but a serious issue, many denied access to safe, clean water in our world. Learn more at World Water Day.
Photo taken by Germaine, one of the gafotozi, as part of developing her photo essay on the environment.
Together with the other gafotozis, Germaine attended peace camp as our “official photographers”. See more photos.
We’re now fundraising for peace camp 2. Please help us today!
Happy Valentine’s Day! A little brotherly love, from Rwanda.
Today is a great day to celebrate the power of love and the power of human dignity. Both are crucial in the fight against racism, AIDS, corruption, greed, jealousy – against anything that causes suffering and conflict in our world. We pass along one of our favourite passages used in our personal reflection time at peace camp, last November:
Evil is only overcome in one way – by the power of sacrificial goodness. Evil is not overcome by more evil. Evil begets evil. Violence more violence. Hatred more hatred. Only sacrificial goodness stops evil in its tracks…we overcome evil by speaking the truth, by blessing the enemy, enduring the suffering instead of inflicting the suffering…goodness that is willing to go all way way…sacrificial love. – Discipleship on the Edge
This past weekend, from Egypt to South Africa, there was a celebration of freedom, but also a reminder of the personal cost. We commemorate those who died in the protests in Egypt at the same time as remembering the anniversary of the release of Mandela after a lifetime spent in prison. His story encourages us to persevere, to pursue peace and justice not through violence and retaliation, but rather through love and mercy. It’s a difficult, but beautiful path – and really the only way to truly forgive, reconcile, and live as brothers and sisters in our world.
Next month our blog will feature the remarkable story of heroes in Rwanda. Pictured above: Phanuel visiting the tomb of one of his classmates, Chantal, who made the ultimate sacrifice for peace. Photo taken by our gafotozi.
So, this Valentine’s Day, we send love to all youth working for peace. You are the true heroes today. We love you. Keep up the good fight!
Join us! Instead of chocolates or flowers, how about giving seeds? Help plant more peace and love in Rwanda. Donate today for our next youth peace camp, November 2011.
p.s. “brotherly love” photo taken at a youth World AIDS Day event in Kigali sponsored by a peace of life…umutuzo mu buzima.
It’s Friday Fun Foto….So You Think You Can Dance, Rwanda? Yego! (Yes!)
Just some of the song, dance and slam (poetry) that we had at our youth peace camp, held this past November in Nyange. Our photographer is Anthony, one of the gafotozi.
See more photos by the gafotozi at peace camp.
Gotta see this…clips of some of the song, dance and slam (poetry), live and unedited, from nyange youth peace camp.
Learn more about our first peace camp and how you can help sponsor another one.
Racing into a new year….Happy New Year everyone and welcome to our first friday fun foto of 2011…
One of the fun relays and activities at Love 4 Life, our special event for World AIDS Day 2010. We held it at IFBK school in Kigali. Several youth and youth leaders from the Nyange Peace Camp also participated. Both of these events were held by a peace of life, in partnership with AEBR Youth.
See more photos of the fun that day, from water challenges to painting t-shirts.
More about the photographer: Thanks so much to our official volunteer photographer of the day, Lene Amstrup-Jensen. Lene is one of the leaders of Tugende, a project by Danish Baptist Youth and AEBR Youth.
Love 4 Life….youth at AEBR Kacyiru painted their own personal AIDS message of love and hope on t-shirts as part of World AIDS Day. Young women around the world continue to be among the most vulnerable. Youth shared their own challenges, from peer pressure to have sex to being coerced into prostitution when no other options seemed available to earn money for food or school. The day included frank discussion on how AIDS is transmitted, the ABCs of prevention, and the crucial issue of stigma that many still face.
Another highlight was the gafotozi display – pictures taken by orphans, two of whom did powerful photo essays on the personal impact of AIDS.
From fun and learning….our fun olypmpics (with sack races, water balloons, and other team challenges) and games on stigma (pictured below) reinforced unity, love and care for all people.
The day concluded with a song of hope, about God’s love for each person.
Meet the newest peace ambassadors in Rwanda…on our last day of peace camp we celebrated, danced, sang, prayed and said our good-byes…more photos and news about all of the events at camp will be posted shortly. It was a truly remarkable opportunity to bring 48 key youth representing 6 of the AEBR schools from across the country and we greatly thank all of our supporters for helping to make this happen.
Till our next posting, we leave you with one of the peace songs written and performed at camp.
p.s. Picture taken by one of the gafotozi, our “official camp photographers”
We had our first official showing of the gafotozi exhibit in Toronto the other night, along with the screening of Munyurangabo, an internationally acclaimed film which helped to launch the start of a young film-making company in Rwanda, Almond Tree Films Rwanda. We will be working with both our gafotozi (young/small photographer in kinyarwanda) and Almond Tree Films Rwanda, at our upcoming project, a youth peace camp, November in Nyange. Any donations, equipment or cash, greatly appreciated.
Like the photos? You can help send these talented young photographers to peace camp where we will be using the film, Munyurangabo, to create live, interactive dramas, to explore conflict and other issues presented in the film and create alternate endings and sequels to the story. Please consider making a donation today.
The gafotozi exhibit is on display all this week at Merchants of Green Coffee, 2 Matilda St., Toronto. Special thanks to Johnny Lam Photography and Merchants of Green Coffee for your interest and support of our film and photo night. Johnny, Morgan and Bria, you are fabulous.
We’d love to share the amazing work of these youth. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on booking your own showing.
“You have to see it to believe it.”
Perhaps that’s the best message a day like today offers, as people around the world celebrate International Day of Peace. A glimpse of what could be that captures the spirit and the imagination.
Maiden of Peace
It’s only fitting today to share the story of young *Chantal Mujawamahoro (maiden of peace in kinyarwanda) and her classmates at Nyange Secondary School in Rwanda. *not pictured
In 1997, three years after the official end of the genocide in Rwanda, militia rebels continued in their mission to wreak havoc. One night, they burst into a school classroom where students had just finished homework and evening prayers. They demanded that students separate into Hutu and Tutsi. Their intention was clear – to kill all the Tutsi students.
But Chantal refuses. “All of us are Rwandans here,” are her last words as she’s shot dead. Her courage and conviction inspire her fellow classmates, and they too refuse to separate. Rebels continue to fire and even use grenades. In another classroom, the same story, and the same brave response. All in all, 6 students lose their life, and 20 wounded, rather than betray their friends and classmates. I wonder what impact the selfless act of students had on the rebels, deep down inside?
Peace starts within
This incident highlights the deeply spiritual aspect to peace – for it involves the necessity to love and forgive at some point in order to break the spiraling cycle of evil, hate, revenge, guilt and shame.
The path to peace is not in what I do, but in what I believe; that affects what and how I do things. ”The transformation that we should seek should not only be the transformation of our society, but also the transformation of our spirit because the inner transformation inspires the outer work…there is an intimate connection between our inner state and what we do in our outer spheres. This consistency is the foundation of being a fully integrated person.” (Peace Education: A Pathway to a Culture of Peace, by Centre for Peace Education)
”The fundamental principle of peace is a belief that each person is important,” notes Jean Vanier in his book, Living Gently in a Violent World. “The vision of Jesus was extraordinary… he entered into this world to love people as they are…saying to each one, “You are important. You are precious…There can be no peacemaking or social work or anything else to improve our world unless we are convinced that ’the other’ is important.”
Nyange in November
When we stumbled across the story of Chantal and her classmates, we knew we had found the perfect location to hold our first youth peace camp this November. It will be in Nyange, at a school just a few miles away from the original site. We will also have one of the school survivors on hand to share their story. We will learn about conflict transformation, share personal stories, and even plant a peace garden for a lasting memorium.
Join us. Help encourage and inspire youth who are committed to working for peace in Rwanda. Make a donation today.
Upcoming Special Events in Toronto:
Oct. 2 - Bowl-a-thon
2 – 4 pm, Newton Brook Bowl A Rama, 5837 Yonge St., Toronto
Join New Faith Youth Ministry in their sweet quest to have fun and raise funds to help youth at risk in Rwanda, including those courageously dealing with HIV/AIDS, go to peace camp, an inititiave of a peace of life and AEBR Youth.
Oct. 5 - a peace of life photo exhibit and film night
7:00-9:30 pm., Merchants of Green Coffee, 2 Matilda St., Toronto
Join us for the screening of Munyurangabo, a beautiful film that was also the first feature film to be produced in kinyarwanda (with English subtitles). It presents some of the issues youth face today in peace and reconciliation. Also on hand: gafotozi – photo exhibit from our village workshop last November with youth at risk in Rwanda.
Admission: suggested donation of $5, or pay what you can. We are very grateful for the generous support of Merchants of Green Coffee for providing the space for this event. Our evening will include an opportunity to make a donation for the youth peace camp in Rwanda. For more info, please email email@example.com.
Note: Chantal Mujawamahoro (maiden of peace) truly lived up to her name. You can learn more about her story and what happened at her school in Catherine Larson’s book, As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. Or check out the short film, “We are all Rwandans”.
Friday fun foto…the wash cyle. Water is a precious commodity – whatever you manage to carry back to the house – and used sparingly. Little Miss Independent (below) does a great job with what she has.
A little more about today’s featured photo and photographer: Claudine, one of our gafotozi, took this photo as part of learning about the use of patterns, sequences, colors and shapes in photography. It was one of her favourite shots and selected to be included in the village art exhibit held on the final day of class.
Special event: If you’re in the Toronto area, there will be a special showing of the gafotozi art exhibit along with a surprise film screening as part of International Day of Peace activities. More details posted next week.
Like what you see? Claudine would love to go to peace camp. You can help her realize this dream.
Welcome to Friday Fun Foto. Cowzilla??? You’ve heard of bridezilla (those difficult brides-to-be), while cows are the big deal in Rwandan nuptials, an important part of the bride price for all groom wanna be’s. How many cows you give or get indicates your wealth and/or status. In fact, cows are a big deal in general, greatly treasured and cared for. And like any other source of wealth and status in our world, cows can also cause conflict. Rwanda’s economy is mainly dependent on agriculture, so land scarcity becomes an important factor for social tensions and conflict.
Today’s photographer: Germaine, 15 years old, one of the gafotozi.
Today is bitter sweet. Let’s start with sweet.
August 23 is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, “an opportunity to pay tribute to the struggle led by the slaves themselves to recover their dignity and freedom,” reports UN News Service. “An uprising on the island of Santo Domingo on the night of 22-23 August 1791 led to Haiti’s independence – the first victory of slaves over their oppressors.”
But now for the bitter. August 23 , there are reports coming out of Democratic Republic of Congo of almost 200 women gang-raped by rebels, part of an ongoing campaign over the years to terrorize and intimidate thousands. It’s a tragic reminder that conflict in the region is far from over. It brings back haunting memories of the tens of thousands of women and young girls raped as a tactic in the Rwanda Genocide.
But sexual violence and exploitation is not just a tactic of warring rebels and genocidaires.
We hear stories of youth, male and female, who are being taken advantage of, often because they are orphans, living on their own, struggling to provide for their younger siblings. They lack a trusted adult presence, support and protection. When they do receive adult attention, it is often the wrong kind – offers of help or support in exchange for sexual favours. It’s such a common practice, there’s a name for it, shugar mami/shugar dadi, and it’s fueling the ongoing HIV crisis. Exploitation is one of the topics to be discussed at the peace camp. We will hear courageous stories from young women and young men who have somehow survived and risen above incredible challenges in their life.
That brings us back to the sweet.
Over 200 years ago, individual people acted, to stop slavery. It took a long time and included the efforts of those being oppressed and well as those benefitting in some way. It’s disturbing to know that somehow we support all kinds of injustice today in ways we can’t even imagine, through our global economy. But we can consider the actions of just a few of your average tea drinkers who started a simple act, to boycott sugar, as their small part to stop plantation owners and businesses and others who were participating in the inhumane practice of slavery. Their acts and commitment are inspiring. And eventually it helped bring change.
Today we have a very small, but similar opportunity. Take the One Sweet Challenge. Do one small thing or give up one small thing, and help us raise funds for a peace camp in Rwanda. Each act will make a difference because you will help to train, empower and encourage over 50 youth to be leaders among their peers in a region that struggles to rebuild not only from genocide, but also the silent devastation going on such as extreme poverty and AIDS. Learn more about the peace camp.
A little more about the featured photo and photographer: Claudine, one of our gafotozi, took this photo (see above) as part of her essay on sewing “because I wanted to show others that we can sew…we can do this and earn a good living.” The poster is near the sewing shop that she and several other youth have started by pooling their small savings together. They received skills and business training and support from Children of Hope, a remarkable program among child/youth-headed households, and one of their first contracts – to sew school uniforms for other orphans in the program.
It’s another Friday Fun Foto from Rwanda. Here’s looking at you, kid!
A little about the photographer: Olivier, one of our gafotozi, loves fixing things and wants to become a mechanic. He also loves his mom and baby niece who lives with them. Olivier’s mom says he has lots of courage. Perhaps that’s why he chose to explore the personal impact of HIV and AIDS on one family – his family – for his photo essay. Olivier lost his dad to this disease and now his mom is ill. He’s happy that she has access to antiretroviral treatment which can help her live a long time. Olivier says that his biggest hope is that life improves for his mom. Stigma is still difficult to deal with and that’s one reason why he wanted to focus on this issue.
You can also help his mom. Learn more about Guardians of Hope, a remarkable grassroots program among families most impacted by HIV and AIDS. Olivier’s mom attends one of these support groups and is greatly encouraged.
It’s Friday Fun Photo. Market day in Rwanda. Enjoy!
About the photographer: Anthony, another one of our gafotozi, explored his photo essay on “village life” with a trip to market. He is a top student at school and wants to become an architect. He is also deeply spiritual: “It is God who protects us in our bad conditions…is with us all the time…even though the problems are there, we pray.”
A little of Anthony’s story: Anthony fled with his mom and sister to Tanzania during the genocide. But in the refugee camp, he and his sister were abandoned by their mom. They eventually managed to return home and rejoin their dad who had remarried. They still don’t know what happened to their mom. Tragedy struck again, when their dad and step mom became sick and tested positive for HIV. His dad died a few months later but his step mom is alive today because of ARV treatment. Stigma was one of the hardest things to overcome: “At beginning, it was hard, people wondering, when they saw someone sick they would stay away. But now it is seen as a common problem.”
Hello Friday. Hello Fun Photo. Welcome to our new column. Each Friday we’ll feature a fun shot. Today’s photo was taken by Germaine, one of our gafotozi, as part of her essay, “the environment and our relationship”. It’s also one of the photos in our new postcard series, a peace of life in rwanda. If you’ve got business or travel contacts, we’d love to connect. Enjoy the photo – and have some fun today! It’s Friday!
A little more about our featured photographer today: Germaine (15 years old) loves nature and gardening and school. Her favourite subjects are biology and chemistry. On holidays, she likes to cultivate bananas to sell to help her mom. She says that she wants to become a doctor because “I see lots of sickness like malaria, AIDS, and parasites.” She lost her father and young brother (he was one year older than her) in the genocide and now lives alone with her mom.
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. Here’s a sneak peek posted by Johnny Lam, professional photographer.
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!