Katie Hebson has always been an adventurer at heart and committed to learning and embracing new cultures, trains of thought, and perspectives. As a mom of two young girls, we greatly admire her role in advocating and creating the space for their family to instill these seeds in their hearts, beings, and souls -- together as a rhythm of their lives.
This fall, Katie Hebson and her two daughters, Fifi and O'Neill, trekked to the mountaintops of Peru to lead a Snapshot Project with young girls of the Q'ero Tribe. The Q’eros are known as the wisdom keepers of the Andes; considered to be the “ultimo ally inka,” or the last Incan community of Peru. Reminiscent of when she first fell in love with mystical Peru and its exquisite people years ago when she hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and floated down the Amazon, this community became important to Katie and her family because historically the Q’eros, like many other indigenous people, have been targeted for discrimination and marginalization while they strive to preserve and promote their indigenous ethnic and cultural identity.
As an anthropologist, photographer and former educator of at-risk kids, Katie finds "participatory photography" to be a highly effective and flexible tool that crosses cultural and linguistic barriers by providing an accessible way to describe realities, communicate perspectives, and raise awareness of social and global issues. She regards it highly as an impressive means to create positive social change through the very lens of the young people in their own communities.
By using the 100cameras custom curriculum, the process of teaching the girls of the Q'ero tribe how to share their inner and outer perspectives through storytelling so they could explore their narratives in the larger context of a global world was exhilarating and important to their family. They were inspired by the ways in which the students exhibited a deep sense of curiosity and wonder and enthusiasm to learn new things.
Reflecting upon some of the definitive moments that most shaped her, Katie shares,
I was profoundly struck by the youth of Q’eros...who have little to zero material possessions. They are the most illuminated, exuberant, creative, and elated children I have spent time with. They possess an inner strength, tranquility, and share a deep affinity for one another. The common threads being living presently in the moment -- strong family ties, a rooted connection to the earth, water and sky surrounding them, pride in their culture and community belonging.
Katie, Fifa, and O'Neill led this Snapshot Project proudly in partnership with Willka Yachay, a local non-profit founded by Hannah Rae Porst, dedicated to helping indigenous communities thrive in the modern world. They are empowering the next generation of the indigenous Q’eros of Peru to become leaders, who guide their community down the path toward sustainable modernity while revitalizing their cultural identity. The projects they create and support are education/schools, alternative energy, food and water security, cultural and music preservation, traditional and western medicine and a weaving cooperative.
Purchase one of the student's photographs, and 100% of the proceeds will go back to Willka Yachay to support their vital work and empower the young girls of the "Q'eros Nation.
Snapshot Project Q'ochamoqo was powered by our friends at ONA.