Front Page News: "They Dreamt Through a Lens"
Featured in Colombian Newspaper
Our Flagship Project Cartagena x Inside Out Collaboration has been showcased on the front page of El Universal. Upon completion of the course, students being featured in the major newspaper of their region is an important affirmation to their experience of learning how to process and tell their stories and to believing that their stories are an important contribution to their community.
Celebrate with us! An English translation is below.
They Dreamt Through a Lens
25 kids from La Boquilla explored faces of people in their community through a lens: the swamp, the center of Cartagena, and their school. The photos were pasted on the walls of the village and some houses in Getsemaní. The objective: to view their surroundings with a new focus and show them that they can dream of happy futures.
Dreams Start With a Photo
Over 10 days, outside instructors gave a photography class in Marlinda. The biggest lesson for the kids? To dream of happy futures.
An excitement about going to school came to Esteban, Paula, Abel, Juan David, Ánderson and 20 other kids from La Boquilla in the form of a camera. With ages between 9 and 14, they couldn’t believe that it was actually them that were chosen for a photographic course, taught by “some Americans”, but on Monday, March 12 they woke up early and arrived at Maria Auxiliadora Center of La Boquilla in Marlinda to start taking photos.
Last Wednesday, they graduated from the course and, along with the 6 instructors from 100cameras, Inside Out Project and The Awa Mission, pasted posters on several walls around the village, as well as on a house in Getsemaní. The posters featured their photographed faces and the faces of other neighbors and inhabitants.
Over 10 days they looked at their surroundings with another focus. They went to the swamp (mangroves), to the center of Cartagena, and also explored within the walls of their own school, identifying forms, figures and finally describing a message in each photo that would speak about water as a precious resource, as well as other resources that surround them. After these days of dreaming through a lens, they returned to their classrooms still dreaming of a future full of triumph and smiling faces.
A Marvelous Motivation
In a classroom, 12 of the 25 students get together. Paula is with her cousins Abel and Juan Camilo, but other relatives and parents are there, too. They’re currently playing with clay, but they’re really meeting up today to talk about their experience with the photography course.
“Why was I in the course?”, Daira asks rhetorically, 9 years old. “Because my teacher signed me up”, she says, as she gives a sassy laugh that more closely resembles shyness than evil. Her sister Lina is three years older than her and both are in 4th grade. They have the same hairstyle, but Lina is more serious. “I wanted to learn how to take photos, and that’s why we said yes.” she said.
Their teacher Diana Cordoba explains that the 25 kids were chosen with their difficulties in mind (with socializing and also keeping up in the classroom). “There are some that have learning difficulties, or who are older and have repeated grades, or have socioeconomic problems at home. We chose them to motivate their participation in the classroom and their attendance in class”, she said.
The result was much better than they expected. Not only did the kids arrive early for photography class (which was at 8am), but they also came back at 1pm everyday to take their daily lessons at the school. In the group of 12 kids that met to talk about the experience, there are future doctors, baseball players, soccer players, engineers and photographers. These last few changed their mind about their future professions from the first moment they had the cameras in their hands, with which they photographed crabs and sloths, all the while with expressions on their face that showed they felt special and able.
Paula looks in silence at her cousins Juan Camilo and Abel. They’re saying that their favorite photos are ones they took in the center of Cartagena, of little animals they found in Centennial Park.
When it’s her turn, she bows her head and looks at her right hand. “One that I took of my hand, underneath the water”, and she moves her fingers as if she was still in the swamp. She’s in 5th grade and is 11 years old. She had been in a boat to the mangroves once before, but she was with family, and she only watched them fish.
The day that the 25 students explored the mangroves, they went in groups of 5 and only then did she decide that she wanted a photo of her hand under the water. ”It looked really pretty", she explains and smiles, as to signal the end of the interview.
Others liked the selfies they took, shots of the acrobatics they did in the school patio, or the smiles of the instructors who allowed them to snap photos of them.
The New Opportunities
Yanelis jokes and says that she wants to continue taking photos so that they’ll let her keep the camera for herself. In reality, the organizers of the course didn’t give just one camera. They donated 25 cameras to the educative institution so they could continue the classes with new kids. “Now we’re going for kids whose academic performance stands out at school”, says Diana, dreaming and hoping that it will be the same kids that can teach their fellow companions the same techniques they received themselves.
Revealing Their Environment
The objective of the photography classes were to show the kids how to process and tell their stories through photography to positively impact the representation they had of themselves.
The photos taken by them are on a platform, and the funds obtained from their sale will be given back to the community. The kids will focus on their relationship with the water and their community.
160 photos were taken of the kids’ faces, their community, and people in Cartagena who supported the project.
Luigerman Gomez, artist and photographer, is part of the French artist JR’s team for the past 5 years and supports communities around the world in teaching how to use the global art platform Inside Out. “We followed this dream and we achieved a very special collaboration between 100cameras and Inside Out so that the kids don’t only learn photography and how to tell their stories, but also can multiply those messages and create greater visibility by way of these photos of their faces, intervening in their own public spaces, installing their faces and those of their community throughout the whole city.”