With a shy grin etching its way across her face fourteen year old Agnes peered up at me from beneath her black eyelashes. She had decided to step forward as someone willing to share her story with me but was feeling nervous around the camera hanging from my neck. Agnes and I spent a while sitting together under a broad tree talking about life. As we talked we both relaxed and within fifteen minutes we were happy to chat about how Agnes thought she should be portrayed through my photographs. We then spent a day stalking the light and discussing all there was to discuss about Agnes' life in Nankhufi, Malawi. Just before our time came to an end Agnes turned to me and told me that whilst we were the same we were also different. She softly said; “the biggest difference between us is the way we dream. I have sweet dreams of my future when I sleep but you get so much more.... you get to live those dreams while you are awake." I want to be a VOF correspondent because I strongly believe in the creation of more women that can live their dreams during the day. I believe in a humanity that encourages women to open their eyes and still pursue the crazy dreams that have stirred them from their sleep.
A digital storyteller is someone who has decided to brave the harsh stares that may come from dreaming in the daytime. I want my words to inspire such dreams and my photography to stir change. VOF is an opportunity for me to work with a mentor who would help me make these day-dreams a reality. They would help me refine my dreams.
My vision for the world is one where young girls like Agnes will be able to lift their head up high when asked to share their story. Their story will also be treated with the utmost care and consideration by the person who tells it. Storytellers will combine forces to weave a beautiful blanket of dreams and when many of these stories have been told will be able to reignite the passion and interest for yet another generation.
I am tired of the paternalistic portrayal of nations I love as much as my own. I have talked in previous articles about changing the way we see poverty through the lens and I know this is my core purpose in life. When we craft stories that show the beauty of our earth then we can begin to challenge the injustices that make our souls weep. It is only through dignity and participation that change can really take place.
I do not know where Agnes lives anymore, I suspect it would not be far from where I met her two years ago. In that time the whole world has changed. What I do hope is that she still dreams of a day when she can dream in the day.
I want to create visual stories that will promote the needs and hopes of these day-dreamers. VOF will open doors and will enable me to find new ways to set dreams free.
So, as I come to the end of my VOF application in 2011, I realise that while I am many things (a photographer, a wife, a friend. an aunt....) I am above all else a day-dreamer who is ready to walk in the sun!