photos by Jennifer Picard
After watching the documentary Born into Brothels, I was so inspired I knew I had to do a similar project. So when I had the opportunity to travel to Botswana this summer as a team photographer with the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT), I jumped at the chance.
I contacted the Bana Ba Letsatsi (Sunshine Children) orphanage/youth centre in Maun to propose the idea of an educational photography project to give kids an opportunity to express their creativity and individuality through photographs. They were as excited about the initiative as I was. So were my friends and family, who donated 14 digital cameras for the project.
My hope was to inspire, offer a new outlook, give hope, and raise money for the kids’ education and survival. My plan was to exhibit the photos taken by the kids, sell their prints to create awareness, and use the profits to improve their current situation and futures.
The day I arrived at Bana Ba Letsatsi I was very excited to meet the kids I would be working with for the next week. Oupha, who works at Bana Ba Letsatsi, gave me a tour and introduced me to the kids who they had pre-selected to participate in the camera project. They were all very enthusiastic to play with the cameras and started taking photos immediately.
Over the course of the next few days the kids took some great photos. The photographs were of each other, self-portraits, plants, the sky, their garden, kids playing soccer and more.
Charlie, the coordinator of Bana Ba Letsatsi, decided that after I returned to Canada she would create a Monday “Camera Club” for the kids. A volunteer runs the club and the orphanage has received several bikes for the kids to use on their photo adventures. Also, a couple of photographers in Maun, who are trying to get kids interested in conservation and photography, have agreed to take the kids on adventures and teach them about wildlife, conservation and photography.
Every Monday beginning this month, I will be receiving photos from the kids and will select the best to sell as prints and use in exhibitions here in Canada. I’m also planning to help the orphanage set up an exhibit in Maun so the community, friends and family can see the kids’ work, give them support, create awareness and raise money for the children at Bana Ba Letsatsi. I hope to create more camera projects with kids in other parts of the world throughout my travels.
To make a donation, or if you have a digital camera for the kids to use, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by the kids:
*for the children’s protection no photos are allowed to be used of the children’s full faces*
Jennifer, what a beautiful idea. i think one of the greatest gifts we can give as photographers is to help others find ways to express their creativity. i hope to do a project like this soon. i have some connections with an orphanage in zambia. blessings in your future endeavors!
this is too amazing!!! I love it so much. It would be cool to be able to purchase these prints online somewhere.