Photographing to success

Losing his parents at a tender age was a terrible blow to his life. At only five years, he was barely certain about where a parentless future would lead him. The only memories that lingered in Eric Ntware’s mind was the vision of his parents slain in cold blood during the 1994 genocide.
One of the children taking a photo
One of the children taking a photo

Losing his parents at a tender age was a terrible blow to his life. At only five years, he was barely certain about where a parentless future would lead him. The only memories that lingered in Eric Ntware’s mind was the vision of his parents slain in cold blood during the 1994 genocide.

The past was so tormenting for Ntwari yet the future was unwelcoming.  How on earth would he live without a relative to support him and take care of his problems?

Being in the middle of no where made Ntwari give up on all the dreams he had had as a child. The free primary education kept him in school but there was less to cherish and live for.

“I only attended primary school because others were doing so. My dreams to be someone one day had been long shattered,” says Ntwari.

When ‘Through Eyes of Hope Project’ surfaced, Ntwari’s life became a success story. Since its genesis in 2007, Through Eyes of Hope has seen Rwandan children find meaning in their lives. Photography has become most children’s passion and reason to face another day.

“The ever growing passion and zeal among these children is amazing and inspiring,” marvels Linda Smith. Linda Smith is the founder of Eyes of Hope. Her photography experience with the kids is a success story she will live to tell.

Smith first traveled to Rwanda in 2006 as a photojournalist, she spent most of her time behind the camera. Then, many Rwandans were captivated by the photos Smith took something that touched her heart.

“So many of the children and adults I photographed had never seen their seen an image of themselves,” says Smith.

And when Smith thought that photography would an amazing job in developing Rwandan children, she was totally right.

Photography has not only exposed the potential of over eleven extremely disadvantaged children, it has also availed means to cater for their needs.

The pilot photography project started with eleven orphaned children from Kagugu

School.

After a series of workshops, the children were availed with 15 cameras, cameras that have changed their story on a day to day basis.

“Selling the photos that I take has helped me cater for my scholastic materials. I also buy food at home for my big sister is jobless,” says Odile Umuziranenge, one of the kids.

After losing both parents to HIV/AIDS, Umuziranenge’s life and school came at a standstill. The 15 year old owes all she is to photography.

“Apart form the financial bit of it, I love photographing for it’s a way to communicate to the world,” says Umuziranenge.

Ntwari, another kid has successfully built a simple house for him and his vulnerable guardian. Internship with Ikaze magazine and Zoom digital studio {Nyarutarama} opened Ntwari’s eyes to see photography as a lifetime business and way of survival.

“I started photographing at mega concerts and selling photos to big music stars there after,” says Ntwari.
Ntwari does photo shop and then sells the finished copies at 1500 rw frws.

The Late Emiliene Iradukunda’s photo album bares witness to the impact of photograpy, on these children’s life.

“Iradukunda had grouped his photos into life before his parents died, the miserable life that followed and then the excellent life he was living after photography came into his life, “says Prossy Yohana,a teacher at Kagugu school.

On 5th December, an exhibition in commemoration of Iradukunda saw many of the kids’ pictures bought at a high price.

As a result of the initial success, photography workshops are being held in Rwanda and locally in the Bronx, Newyork and Bedford. During these workshops, the photos taken by Rwandan kids are displayed and bought.

And as the project buys more film to take photos, its initial goal is to make photography a therapy to children around the world.

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