Life As A Teenage Girl
A couple of month's back, in Narok, Kenya, Christian Aid trained seven pregnant teenage girls and six teenage mums how to take photos. It was nothing fancy, we just showed them the basics of photographic techniques - framing, exposure, a bit about the technical requirements of the camera.
We called this initiative Picture Power (because we're better at empowering communities than naming things) and the idea was that the photos would document the challenges people faced as well as the impact of our work.
We wanted these women to be able to tell their story and the training allowed them the opportunity to do that in a visually engaging way. One rule - we didn't tell them what to aim their cameras at - it was totally up to them to decide what elements of the world around them they wanted to capture.
Once they'd each chosen their favourite images, they were all displayed at a community exhibition alongside the stories that inspired the shot. It was a way for these teenagers to communicate the issues that affected them most. The things they cared about most deeply.
In Narok, over 600 people attended the exhibition, including well respected and influential people in the community such as teachers, priests and chiefs.
Having experienced the exhibition, the community as a whole was unable to ignore the issues highlighted in the photos. Wonderfully, the community leaders made the following commitments.
- Involve boys more in helping to prevent pregnancies
- Promote better communication between parents and children so that adults might better meet the needs of their kids better
- Educate the community about the law (already in place) which punishes sex with under age girls
- More vocational training for girls to provide alternative sources of income
All that change stemming from a group of young women picking up cameras and showing others what the world looked like through their eyes.
Maybe Picture Power isn't such a bad name after all?