It was fascinating to hear about this project from the initial conception to its execution, first hand and with strong colourful images to illustrate it. Mo worked with PhotoVoice and went on several relevant courses to prepare for her trip and halfway through the planning stage, suggested that it would be even better to have photographs taken by the children themselves. She was lent eight cameras and the trustees welcomed her initiative, so the idea took shape. There were thirty-six girls and eight boys to share the cameras and Mo decided to organise workshops on essential skills but to concentrate on creativity rather than technical skills. The cameras were left available (and charged up) for the children to pick up and use whenever they liked and their images showed amazing confidence, often providing insights into aspects of their life in the Illam which Mo, nor any other adult, would have been able to capture. There were closeups of domestic and gardening activities, but also relaxed images of playing, sleeping and enjoying each other. I was struck by the sensitive and thoughtful portraits they had taken of each other, and by the end of Mo’s presentation, I think we were all feeling some of her warmth and empathy for the children - surely a sign of the project’s success.
Mo was there for six weeks and in that time, ran several workshops - with and without an interpreter - encouraged the development of the children’s photographic activities, including a breakthrough for one taciturn and diffident student and enabling another to start on his filming dream and then sorted, printed and mounted an exhibition in the nearby town. Her passion, drive and achievements are inspiring and her presentation gave us a great evening.
Children of the Illam