Today Kelley and I officially started our Photovoice project with the girls. I’m really excited for it – it’s something I got involved in back in Hamilton, Ontario over a year ago with some inner-city youth and then some seniors this past summer. Now, to start a photo project with the girls here in Bolivia is awesome. Photovoice is literally sharing voices through photos – so often, certain people don’t get a chance to share their experiences, and when they can show us through their eyes, what they capture on the camera, it can be a really special experience for the photographer and those who see and listen to what the photographer shares can also be influenced. Often, it is used as a tool for social change, to give marginalized populations “the opportunity to record, reflect and critique personal and community issues in creative ways.” ( I am not expecting huge waves of change to come from this project, but I am excited for the process itself, of spending time with the girls in new ways and seeing them produce something that is theirs and that they can share with the world.

What matters most to me with the girls is not the outcome of their photos, but the experience of holding a camera and having ownership over this project. I am excited for them to get out and see things in new ways and work with each other. We hope to print some of the favourite photos and put them up in the house, and also have a public exhibit somewhere in Cochabamba and hopefully I can organize an exhibit back home in Hamilton as well.

Today I went out with two of our girls and two cameras. We wandered through the Plaza Central downtown, up and down some side streets and courtyards. The girls had a lot of fun taking photos of the scenery and of each other, and they were excited to take some video as well. I also took them to a little cafe and artisan shop called Manos con Libertad (Free Hands), which is a project for women who were in prison, to re-create their lives and work and create for a living. These women cook some amazing food (especially the lemon cake) and weave some gorgeous blankets and purses. The girls loved the place, and were in awe of the products the women created. We even got a little tour of the grounds and the workshop where everything is made.

I know the girls enjoyed themselves, and I did too, every part of it, even the tired bus ride home. We also had some fun interviewing each other with my video camera! Here are some of my personal favourites from our outing, taken by two incredible photographers. Who knows how the girls will react and reflect on their photos when they see them.

A beautiful church window.

Splash of the fountain at a courtyard downtown.

Pigeons in the Plaza.
Vacation is beginning, Christmas is coming fast, and there is lots on the go but I am all about new beginnings and looking forward to the unexpected experiences of these next couple months.

Paz y Amor