We were very excited to be able to bring the photographs back to the youth, and to have the opportunity to show the students how well received their photographs had been in the
Another element of the exhibit was a continuation of the Community Art Projects that we began last spring in
Aside from the photography exhibit and the Community Art Project, there was also wonderful performances the Bitone Troupe, a youth group from Katanga Church, and the students of FOCUS. The entertainment certainly added energy to the day, and seemed to be thoroughly enjoyed by all.
While reflecting on the exhibit, as a group, we were trying to measure its success. As an organization, all of our projects aim to meet the three criteria that we have established: Educate, Inspire, and Empower. If all three are achieved to a relative degree, than we can consider a project or event successful. We assumed that because the exhibit had been a success in Chicago, that it would receive the same appreciation in Uganda. There was a sense of pride coming from the youth, their family members and local community leaders which speaks to the ability of such a project to empower a group of youth. However, it was difficult for us to gauge how much the audience actually learned from the experience. In an exhibit that displays their daily lives, their community, the streets they live on it, we wondered if the exhibit had provided them an opportunity to see their community through a different lens. The inspiration sparked from the exhibit is another concept that was difficult to measure. Project FOCUS can hope that the students, parents, and community leaders found inspiration in seeing that there are individuals across the world as well as in their own community who are committed to bringing change to their community through their youth. Project FOCUS members found inspiration in the photographs, the dancing, the music, and the smiles on everyone’s face as we came together as people from very different worlds and enjoyed the day.
The students and staff of the Mulago Child Development Project also spent time reflecting on the exhibit and sent us a formal evaluation. One very important point that was raised was the oversight of our group to assume that photography in Uganda is revered as an art form, and a tool for expression. It would have been helpful lead a class on photography before handing the students cameras and film with a very vague prompt. Another important observation made by some of the older participants was the inequality or “opportunity gap” that exists between the two worlds and that it is unfair that they are unable to travel to the
Not surprisingly, in our reflections of the overall event, we realized that we still have a lot to learn about immersing ourselves into a different culture, and we have to continuously reexamine our actions. Our collaboration with FOCUS has provided us with great teachers, so long as we continue to view ourselves as learners. Madelene, the most recent addition to Project FOCUS arrived in
Originally, we wanted this exhibit to bring a sense of closure to the project so that we can begin focusing all of our energy to launching new projects in