Through the eyes of children

I was asked by Kristen Ashburn to give a presentation to a group of photographers in Kigali yesterday. The focus was on using the Internet to upload and distribute images and generally engage with other photographers around the world using tools like Twitter.

The photographers are all orphans of the 1994 Genocide and members of the Rwanda Project – a non-profit project, backed by U.S. donors which has been running for the last ten years. You can view their work in the gallery section of the project website.

Back at Imbabazi Orphanage in Gisenyi, northern Rwanda, the group have office space, Internet access and access to far better photographic equipment than I. The 19-strong group have tentative plans to use the money earned from photograph sales and donations to form a professional collective based out of Gisenyi.

They asked me a tonne of questions and I’m hopeful that some of the thinking behind this blog and the advice I put together for them might be of help as they plan an online presence for their work in the near future.

I talked to a number of the children and young adults about their photographs – many of which are excellent – including Jacqueline pictured above. She took the picture of her friend Gadi at the market with her first ever roll of film when she was just 8 years old.

“In 2002 I submitted several of the children’s photos to Camera Arts and View Camera Magazine’s Annual Photo Contest. The contest had several categories: Documentary, Advertising, Student, Portraiture, etc. I thought that the photos should be entered into the student category, but I did not have copies of the kids’ student ID’s, which were required in the submission guidelines. Therefore, I had to write a letter explaining the circumstances, and suggested that Jacqueline’s photo of Gadi could be entered into the Portraiture category. To our delight and surprise, Jacqueline won “First Prize — Portraiture,” and received a cash prize that will go to her education. What I didn’t tell the jury was that it was the first roll of film she ever shot! But if you look at her other photos you will see that it was no accident,” – David Jiranek – Rwanda Project Founder – 2002

The New Times has a piece about the exhibition. You can donate to the Rwanda Project online.

Photographs taken from my personal Flickr account.

3 Responses to “Through the eyes of children”

  1. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story and some of the children’s amazing photographs.

    I am a big advocate of giving children a greater voice through art, design, and photography. For the past few years I’ve been working with a group in Central America. Fotokids,, was started 20 years ago as a 6 month photo project by former Reuters photojournalist Nancy McGirr. Fotokids has been an amazing organization to work with.

    Now I am delighted to learn about this group in Kigale, and what talented kids they are. Thanks so much for all the information. I just made a recurring donation.

  2. Graham — thanks so much for this great feature and your very inspiring presentation to the kids — they could not stop talking about it and have returned to the orphanage determined to organize themselves and move the project forward.
    Jeff — we would love to hear more about your project — email us at, and thank you so much for you donation

  3. N.MANA BRUNO says:

    Thank you to share with us these information. I am hare in Rwanda and I am an artist. I would like to see all those photos may be in one exhibition here in Rwanda. I didn’t know about the project but I am going to search more and more. Thank you very much for your support to us. Bruno