Defining the Issues
2016 – 2017
With funding from the Empower Foundation and a Spark & Ignite Award, Photovoices International facilitated the students’ year-long journey to learn more about issues that directly impacted their lives. The youth chose seven topics to focus their lenses on: village potential, roads, trash, malnutrition, poor housing, school drop-out and child marriage.
Most of the 105 student participants had never held a camera before and were anxious about breaking them or “doing it wrong.” Plus, the difficult terrain and sensitive nature of some of the issues made the project challenging. In spite of these challenges, the students remained committed to contributing to their communities.
The students have come a long way since then. In addition to becoming photographers, they learned how to engage with and interview community members, participated in critical dialogues about sensitive topics, and took strong positions on issues that concern them. They created presentations based on their research using photographs and stories to highlight their concerns to decision-makers.
At the final photovoice workshop and exhibition, government leaders were deeply affected by the students’ photos and stories. They expressed surprise and concern that child marriage and school drop-out had continued to impact the students’ lives and promised to provide community outreach to address these concerns.
As a result, with support from various government offices, roads were fixed, houses were built, solutions to the trash problem were discussed, and eco-trekking routes were designed. The students’ perseverance in focusing on and learning about sensitive issues has led to a significant decrease in child marriages due to pregnancy since the project started.