Ugandan children & their cameras…. great work!

The mixture of teaching, practical work (sorting various elements for the school), dealing with African suppliers and meeting so many local people has left me absolutely exhausted.

My head hitting the pillow at around 10:30pm, I stare out towards the Democratic Republic of Congo, the sky bright with stars and more often than not illuminated with distant storms. The lack of light pollution is a joy to behold, while the sound of music beats and occasionally drums ring around the mountains in the distant. Closer to home the air is filled with occasional sounds from cattle and calling of crickets.

It’s a lovely way to drift off to sleep.

Back to the school and the photography in particular, well, to be honest the 24 children who have had cameras have completely exceeded my expectations with the quality (in both technical and compositional terms) and variety of photographs they have taken. Two children in particular have produced work which is completely encapsulating. I was so nervous taking the 26+ rolls of film (I had to give a couple of extra rolls out due to ‘accidents’) to the processing lab in the nearest town.

The staff in the lab and the other photographers waiting for their prints (there are quite a few film photographers in town (not in the villages), making a living taking portrait of shots of people at their home) were rather transfixed by my project and the idea of giving children cameras to take pics of their life. “But why, they will just destroy the camera” said one middle aged man (how wrong he is!)

I returned in anticipation to see what had become of my teaching and in particular if anything had come out…. Every single child had managed to meet some form of the objectives I set, some taking great pains to really demonstrate a side of their rural life which a traveller would not normally glimpse.

Upon returning to the village, I set about organising the images and deciding on which ones I would display – due to limited space, it was agreed that a collection of the five best images from each child would be displayed in the school.
Come Monday morning, the children were in a state of excitement and amazement, pointing, laughing, showing and talking about their images.

This is what I wanted to achieve and I’m so pleased the children feel they have something from the experience.

Photography teaching has been added to the monthly timetable, I have finished some lesson plans and hope to get them printed in town later this week…The children and their families get to keep the cameras along with several rolls of film (thankfully I’ve just managed to buy some more in town) and of course an album with all their images.

They know their pictures will feature in an exhibition in the UK this summer and are excited to say the least.

Of course, there has been lots of other work going on while I’ve been here, including tons of new educational books, materials (such a benches/boards etc) water supply to the school, medical & new uniforms for those without (plus much more!)

With my time approaching the end, I’m meeting the final few parents and interested people this week, before I make the journey back to Rwanda.

Life in rural Uganda has been wonderful and I genuinely feel privileged to have spent all this time living with a Ugandan family, watching, learning and taking part in their life. I know I’ll miss them all dearly.

Leave a Comment