Saturday, August 23, 2008

Capturing the Story: The next chapter

Capturing the story takes time and patience. I have heard from two of the students that it is sometimes difficult to take photos of the subjects they wanted to because some people did not want their pictures to be taken. We talked about how they handled this and processed the experience. It would be ideal to have a digital camera for the students so that they could share their images instantly, a technique sometimes used to build trust and to include the participant in the process.

The students had 1-2 weeks to take the photographs and complete their one page essay. What has become clear thus far is that all of the CES students who have participated not only are enjoying the opportunity to take and receive their photographs but they are truly grateful of being sponsored by CES. Every one of them reported how their life circumstances have changed and that although the road may sometimes be uphill, they have the support to keep climbing.

It will take several months and possibly into 2009 to complete the photography project. The distance involved and resources required to make copies of all of the photographs for the students and to compile their essay’s will take time. Continue watching for the update of some of the most inspirational young people in Kakamega, Kenya.

Capturing the Story: Ambition inspired by life events

There are many things that struck me about the young woman I interviewed that made her seem mature beyond her age. And at the same time, she was warmly playful and quite attentive. She also came to school on her day off, to meet with me. She is 15 years old and knew she was born in March but did not know what day. Her dream is to become a doctor that will treat people, an ambition inspired by life events. “Because my mom is always sick and there is no one to treat her, maybe I could treat her myself.”

She is the first girl, third born of five. When we spoke about support she said “my mother, she is always there for me, I do love her. She brought me here (to the school), she is my hero. And my teachers, they are always there for me and help me.” The composed young woman smiled as she sat across from me. She had waited patiently for me to finish talking to the other students. When I gave her the camera and explained to her the choice of participating, she was thrilled to be included. She had never used a camera before and quickly understood the use of a flash.

We talked further while I walked down the road to catch a tuk-tuk, a three wheel scooter-taxi, in the opposite direction to which she was walking. It was during this time, that she opened up and disclosed that not only is the distance far to school but she feels affected by the screaming and alcohol abuse in the village. She said people give her courage to walk to school but that she is sometimes afraid. She shared problems at home and how this upsets her. “My mom is sick.” It was clear she felt caught in the middle and helpless to change her home situation. It is her story that resonates with me and brings up my own feelings of helplessness.

My hope is that her photographs will tell a story that will reach others and provide inspiration to them. I see great strength, resilience and insight in her.

Capturing the Story: Managing with what you have

Have you ever gone to school on your day off? Did you ever attend meetings of your day off? Imagine at the ages of 15 and 16 you willingly and egarly agreed to do just that! I am not sure what impressed me the most, was it that these students walked 5-10 kilometers to meet me at school on their day off or was it their ability to keep going in the face of adversity. The first young man who introduced himself to me shared that he wanted to be specializes in operations. He realizes that in order to have a better life in the future, he would need need to stay in school and work hard. Although it isn’t asa doctor that simple as that. He and the other CES student explained that sometimes the lack of resources gets in the way of going to school. They share this example: “Maybe you are half way up (awake in the morning) and you have half your uniform on and you need a pen or a book but you don’t have it. That is discouraging.” “You don’t have the books and it’s hard.”

The next young man shares that he would like to become a psychiatrist. His interest in this profession comes from the idea that “it promotes community; I would be serving people more than serving myself.” He said that “it helps to have motivation; I have the urge to come to school.” One of the students had used a camera once before, but never had a full roll of film to shoot. They looked at the questions posed to them and agreed to be a part of the photography project.

The photography project asks specific questions that involves having the students capture their ideas on film. The questions require reflection and the idea is to promote insight into their lives. They include topics on school, health, friends and family.