I work park time in this dept and when the opportunity came about, I was asked to go along and shot some photos and video for a number of different UK organisations who wanted to partner with Tearfund. So 11 of us jumped on a plane to head out to visit some Tearfund partners in Uganda for 6 days.
Organisations that where represented:
We visited a wide range of partners, some who housed street children and showed them what it meant to be part of a family, to partners who work in their local community to educate people on HIV/AIDS and other issues that come up. The same partner as allowed visited a group of young men who attended their boxing club, this was a great way to keep them fit and show them discipline. We also visited a community who had been supported by a Tearfund partner to get fresh clean water and sanitation, which has literally been a game changer for the people in the village. It still means they have to do runs down to the water pump, which was a 20 mins walk up and down a hill, but at least the water is clean from a pump.
We met some incredible people, however, the person who stuck with me the most was Luke [pictured below].
Luke was the driver of the bus which took us around each of the partners and worked with us each day. Not only as a photographer, but as a person, I have always been interested peoples story. Listening to what life was like for Luke was tough, but one I will hold dear. I had many conversations with Luke during my time in Kampala, this was because I was last getting on to the bus last most of the time due to getting gear ready for the next shoot which meant I would sit in the front with him. Luke assisted me in some of these shoots and was just so unbelievably patient and supportive. I have been very fortunate to see lots of places around the world, but I sincerely say the pictures in my mind of mountains, valleys, coastlines and waterfalls, have faded with time, but the faces of people whose story I have entered into, and they into mine are as clear today as they where the moment I experienced them.
Whenever I say to people that I have been to Uganda to work, peoples reaction seems to go one of two ways;
1. People who have been to the Uganda, tell me of how much they loved it and how amazing the people there are so special. They normally comment on how happy they are even though the have so little.
2. People who haven't been, will ask me what it is like out there, and try to explain to me how heartbroken they are by the images the see or the stories the hear.
Both are obviously a their representation of their truth and own personal experience. For me though, I embrace both reactions with the same attitude, an attitude where I completely see both sides. I have first hand and second hand experience of the joys and horrors of life in the developing world. The challenge as a photographer and story teller through the images I take, is to have a clear and accurate essay of photos that represent what I see when I am on the ground. So in these photos you will see children who look extremely troubled, and children who are loving the innocence and freedom of being a child and in others you'll see the reality of what its like to be a man who has lost his legs due to cancer but still has to work his family land.
Humanity is a beautiful and complex thing. Just as each of us are. There are times that our life can be really tough their circumstance within or outside of our control and of course it is all relative to what your life is like day-to-day. This is true no matter where in the world I go, however the only difference I can see is that for people living and growing up in the developing world, when life is tough, on average, compared to my life or the lives of my friends and family at home, it is through things outside of their control. A challenge that has been placed on my heart is to stand shoulder to shoulder with people around the world I have met and are still to meet, and as one humanity say to each other 'Out of your lack meet my plenty & out of my lack meet your plenty'
Below is everyone who went out and a picture of all the gear that had to come with me.