Photography can be a catalyst for change. It was for 19 young Rwandan orphans and will be again through these dynamic photo workshops.
Help fund photo workshops for the next generation of Camera Kids.
Founded in 2000, Through the Eyes of Children (TTEC) taught photography to a group of 19 children orphaned by the Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsi who lived at the Imbabazi Orphanage in Mutura, Rwanda. The workshops were held over 11 years and the resulting photographs were exhibited throughout the world, including at the United Nations and at the premiere of the movie Hotel Rwanda. Funds raised through the children’s photography helped to pay their school fees and proved to them that people value their perspective and want to see Rwanda through their eyes.
Today, these children, now adults, are extending the project’s mission. The photographers, or “Camera Kids” as they were called, are paying it forward, teaching photography to other vulnerable children around the world.
This Kickstarter campaign is being launched to raise funds for photo workshops with other vulnerable children from around the world. The photo workshops will be led by three of the original Camera Kids, Mussa Uwitonze, Gadi Habumugisha and Jean Bizimana.These workshops will be captured in a documentary film by the award-winning director, Beth Murphy, and GroundTruth Films.
Two photo workshops have already been held in the United States: working with Haitian Immigrant teenagers in New Jersey and with foster children in Boston. More workshops are planned for 2019 around the world.
Photography has played a role in the life, education and careers of these Rwandan orphans, creating a pathway to memories and community after all was lost in the genocide. Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana believe that they can create the same impact on the lives of other children.
In 2011, the original Camera Kids started a “pay it forward” program by teaching photography to other Rwandan children. In July 2018, Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana expanded the program and led workshops with Haitian Immigrant teenagers and American Foster Children.
Through this Kickstarter campaign, we plan to conduct additional photo workshops with other vulnerable children throughout the world. Each workshop will be 4-7 days in length and will be both immersive and fun for a group of 20 children at a time. Partnerships with organizations working with vulnerable children in each location have already been established, including Worldwide Orphans who serves thousands of children around the globe and The Home for Little Wanderers in the United States.
Select photos from each workshop will be shared on the Camera Kids Instagram account to showcase the work of the children and their photos will be curated for inclusion in photo exhibitions with each partner organization.
This Kickstarter campaign is to fund Camera Kids’ photo workshops and document the process for a feature documentary film by the GroundTruth Project.
Your contribution today will cover the costs of travel, materials and salaries for Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana.
Through the Eyes of Children (TTEC) was conceived by photographer David Jiranek (1958 –2003) in the year 2000 in collaboration with The Imbabazi Orphanage. The Orphanage was established in the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide Against the Tutsi by American Roz Carr, who was 82 years old when she dedicated herself to care for hundreds of orphaned children. David began the TTEC photo project at Imbabazi with annual four-week photographic workshops centered on the importance of the children’s perspective and experience. Nineteen children, ranging in ages from eight to 18, were given disposable cameras and taught the fundamentals of photography as they documented themselves and their community. Initially, their photos were developed locally in Rwanda and displayed on the orphanage walls. Since then, the same children have participated in annual workshops from 2000 – 2011. Their photographic body of work documents their lives in Rwanda as the country was rebuilding.
In the Spring of 2001, after David completed his first workshop, he invited photographer Kristen Ashburn, PR professional Jenifer Howard and brand strategist Joanne McKinney to help. When David tragically died in 2003, the project continued on through their volunteer efforts. Today, three of the original camera kids, Mussa Uwitonze, Gadi Habumugisha and Jean Bizimana, stepped up to lead TTEC for the future.
The children’s work has been widely recognized and has been exhibited around the world in such prestigious venues as the United Nations in New York, the Human Rights Watch International Film Festival, The Holocaust Museums of Houston, Texas, and Naples, Florida and at several universities throughout the U.S. and in Europe. Over the course of 15+ years and through the sale of the children’s photography, significant funds were raised to fund the secondary school education for all of the children at the orphanage.
Check out the work of the original Rwandan camera kids here:
Today, the Camera Kids are adults, living and working in Rwanda - a number in the field of photography. As this project comes full circle, Gadi, Mussa and Bizimana, once child photographers and Camera Kids themselves, are bringing their work, their lives, their achievements and their hope for tomorrow directly to the next generation of Camera Kids. They are a true success story of how love, education -- and photography -- can transform lives.
For a historical perspective on the photo workshops, watch this video:
Why This, Why Now?
What started as a project to bring happiness into the lives of orphans has morphed into a powerful, life-changing means of work, income and artistic expression. A number of the original Camera Kids have gone on to embrace photography in their careers. Some work as photojournalists for organizations such as Reuters, staff photographers for Starwood Hotels and others work as photo tourism guides, wedding photographers and studio photographers. It is a natural progression of the Project to pay it forward and help other vulnerable youth throughout the world realize the power of sharing their story through the lens and eyes of children. The resulting documentary film will be a powerful message of hope and transformation that the world should see.
As a very small, all-volunteer organization, Through the Eyes of Children has dedicated itself to teaching photography to other vulnerable children throughout the world. When this project started, no one thought that photography would change lives -- but it did. Now that the Camera Kids are grown up and ready to take this social impact project to a broader, global scale, they need your help! Your donation will help to cover the necessary funds to run the photo workshops and then to help fund the documentary that will follow their progress.
Every dollar you donate to this Kickstarter campaign will go directly to support the photo workshops.
To learn more about Through the Eyes of Children and its "Camera Kids," visit: camerakids.photos
Kickstarter and You
Funding this Kickstarter Campaign helps us reach a broader audience; an audience that is passionate about helping children, serving the arts and lifting those in need.
All photo printing provided by our friends at Social Print Studio.
- $25 Postcard Signed by Camera Kids
- $50 8x12 inch Archival Print
- $100 8x10 inch Soft Cover Book
- $150 12x18 inch Archival Print
- $200 16x24 inch Archival Print
- $250 Ready-to-Hang 8x12 inch Metal Print
- $300 Three 12x18 inch Archival Prints
- $500 Ready-to-Hang 16x24 inch Metal Print
- $1,000 Ready-to-Hang 24x36 inch Metal Print
Risks and challenges
Without proper funding, the photo workshops will not be completed and we will not be able to affect the lives of deserving children. Without the photo workshops, there will be no documentary and we also lose the opportunity to share this inspiring story. Funding is our greatest risk.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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