Cycling from England to Rwanda in 2012 was an adventure that changed a lot in my life. The people, cultures and gorgeous colours are a photographer’s dream. Run all this alongside the wonderful hospitality and the gritty nature of African life and it captivates the heart.
In 2014 I returned to Rwanda and Uganda, exploring the countries, meeting old friends and documenting some of the people I met on my journey.
Discovering the school
Having enjoyed a peaceful morning I came across a small school in a rural mountain-top location. The morning’s photography had not worked out – the light hadn’t been right and I didn’t feel too optimistic about my results. However, coming across 50 children singing their national anthem, stood on a large field high on the hillside, was a moment after which everything would change.
The school had been in existence only months, with Ronald Twongyeirwe teaching children from small outbuildings, using outdated materials.
The love and passion of this small school captivated me and I knew I had to return and provide assistance in some form.
Move forward several months and following a successful exhibition, Give a Child a Camera was born.
So the project begins
Nine months later, I was back at the school, bearing 25 film cameras, 50 rolls of film and a plan to give each child a camera and teach them photography.
The rudimentary brick building, which contained half a dozen benches and a scruffy blackboard, was my base for the next few weeks as I prepared to teach the basics of photography to 25 eager children.
The photography project was a complete success. (see ‘The project’ for updates and current progress)
While at the school and thanks to marvelous support from lots of people in the UK, I purchased dozens of new benches, new teaching materials, introduced sustainable measures including building a chicken pen, buying chickens and most importantly paying for a mains water supply, along with several months of bills paid for.
Returning in 2016 I continued to run the hugely popular and successful project (click for current progress) but thanks to some significant left over funding of £800 I was able to significantly improve the sanitation of the school.
Since my initial trip, the school had been transformed by other outside help, most notably by a chap called Sam from the UK who raised funding to build new classrooms. This meant more and more children were pouring into Eden School, but the sanitation remained the same, a dreadful temporary mud building and a hole in the ground for over 200 children and teachers.
Thankfully in just two short weeks this was transformed to permanent brick built toilets, which have wooden doors and a space for handing washing and soap. A vast improvement.
Continuing the great work, other sums of money were spent on new materials, carpentry work and hiring a music teacher for several months to teach keyboard playing (something I also took with me in 2016).
The Sustainable measures were also increased, with the chickens producing tons of eggs and many chicks, I also purchased vast quantities of seeds, to enable a school garden to be launched. the results of which have been an abundance of fresh vegetables.