Institute for Research on African Women, Children & Culture (IRAWCC), Oguta, Nigeria
I was invited to Oguta in southeastern Nigeria by University of Arizona Law Professor Leslye Obiora to create a youth photography program for her nonprofit IRAWCC. Over 30 girls explored their lives, community and culture through photography over two weeks. For nearly all the girls, this was the first time they had an opportunity to express themselves creatively, let alone use a digital camera.
The work was challenging, as their appeared to be only one art class in secondary school in Oguta and this class was designated for kids failing science. Needless to say this created quite a stigma about art. We explored together the idea of visual metaphor, composition and light. Then each girl picked a theme to photograph and at the end of the workshop they selected their favorite two images and wrote stories about them. They also documented things they wanted to improve about their town Oguta, such as better school facilities and supplies, ending child labor and improved roads. In the afternoons the girls would photograph and then in the evenings I would turn the generator on for 2 hours (since Oguta has no public power services) to download their photographs and charge camera batteries. In the hope of sustaining the program beyond my time, I left all the cameras and equipment in Oguta and worked with two local Nigerian photographers and trained them in using the equipment and shared curriculum ideas.
If you want to hear more about my time teaching in Nigeria click on this PDF to read an e-mail I sent to friends: SNAP Email
To give you a visual sense of my experience in Nigeria, below are two brief videos of the students and many photographs taken by the students. I took the first video when we were photographing one day and found refuge from a monsoonal storm under a tin roof. The second video shows Adaobi, one of the photography participants, interviewing Vivian about her career plans and photography experience.