Please join me on PulseWire to give girls of Matale an even louder voice to get their stories, dreams, aspirations heard.
Through these girls voices and work, their school St. Andrews Matale Secondary School in Uganda now has a science laboratory. This is an amazing accomplishment!!
ZoomUganda shares the journey of 12 girls given 12 cameras and 24 hours in which to tell their own stories through their own lenses. A Photovoice project directed by Julie Resnick of Portland, Oregon, ZoomUganda empowered its participants to stand in the centers of their world and show you the view from there.
See what these girls experience as significant, as sacred: chores before and after the two-hour walk to school and back each day, a favorite goat, elderly relatives standing in for dearly departed parents, those parents’ many graves. A bed. A dress. A friend.
As a complement to their photographs, the girls kept journals about what they hope their photos convey. Inevitably, these journals became the repository of the girls’ larger hopes and dreams:
I want to be a nurse, a nun, a film star. I want to teach.
And teach they did. In the 24 hours of their creative assignment, the girls not only learned to use the cameras themselves, but they also taught their friends, their siblings, and their extended families the photography fundamentals they had just learned. The photos reveal this generosity, as the girls themselves are present in the pictures of their world, by turns behind and in front of the camera. Imagine being given so great a gift as a camera and openhandedly sharing its possibilities with others.
ZoomUganda is sponsored by the Harambee Centre, a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, which connects people and groups in the US with the peoples and cultures of the African continent. Harambee Board member Thomas Lwebuga was raised in Matale, Uganda, site of ZoomUganda, a village in which every family he knows has been touched by the AIDS epidemic. Now living in Portland and working for Nike, Thomas remembers his village, his people, and Uganda through his work with the Centre and, specifically, the development projects he leads on behalf of St. Andrew’s Secondary School, including this collaboration with Julie Resnick on ZoomUganda.
Julie Resnick is a cross-cultural trainer and consultant. ZoomUganda brings together her 23 years of international experience with her background in fine arts and photography. Recalling the first day of the project, Julie says, “I handed out the cameras with their names written on duct tape to each girl. I drew a camera on the blackboard and explained each part: ‘This is the lens. This is the shutter. This is the zoom.’ The girls immediately repeated ‘zoom! zoom! zoom!’ in many voices. They had named their project.”
Julie continues, “On the day I left Oregon, the last phone call I took from a friend ended with her telling me to ‘pay attention.’ How prophetic those words were, as the girls taught me all about paying attention in the ways they held and shared their cameras, the ways they lovingly inhabited the world around them, their openhearted generosity and earnest desires for a bright future.”