By Terry McDermott
Reducing the divide between have and have not regions is a reality the world must change. The Olive Branch for Children and Photographers Without Borders are combining efforts to help meet this challenge.
The Olive Branch for Children, since 2005, has been an important part of the solution in Tanzania. It brings Canadian compassion and expertise to community-led programs that help children and families respond to issues such as educational and food needs, and AIDS/HIV.
Deborah McCracken is the founder and force behind the Olive Branch. The organization aims to create equality and opportunity by giving people tools and guidance to improve their lives.
“We’re so inequitably distributed,” says McCracken. “We (in Canada) have three, four, five of everything and the greater majority of the world’s population can’t be sure of securing three meals for their families. The world is not equitable, but it can be. The hope for an equitable world should drive us.”
“For me, this is fundamental, and something I need to be involved in.”
McCracken visited South Africa as a 16-year-old exchange student in 1996, only a year and a half after Apartheid fell. Her time in South Africa changed how she saw the world and herself.
“I spent three months in South Africa; it was a pivotal point in my life. I realized I was braver than I thought and capable of more than I thought. It was my first connection to Africa.”
When she began to consider where her efforts would make the most difference, she felt South Africa wasn’t the right choice. She let chance, rather than logic, take her to Tanzania.
“I’m very analytical but I love it when you do something because it feels right. I opened the atlas, circled my finger and it landed on Tanzania.”
In Tanzania, the Olive Branch found a safe country with peace and unity among its tribes. In stable communities, they were able to focus on development programming rather than conflict resolution.
Partnerships, in and out of Tanzania, have been critical to the Olive Branch for Children’s success. For example, the Olive Branch has partnered with Photographers Without Borders on two books to raise awareness of the needs, accomplishments and hopes of Tanzanians.
One book will highlight Tanzanian women who are transforming their communities and country. The other will focus on children’s dreams. The children were particularly excited about being involved and learning about photography.
“It’s a great partnership and I’m very pleased in any way, shape or form to be part of it. I’m really proud of everything Photographers Without Borders do.”
Building community partnerships are essential to the Olive Branch for Children. Its programs are designed after understanding what people identify as needs and goals. This is why the organization’s programs are diverse, focusing on HIV/AIDS prevention and care, early childhood education, food security and vulnerable children and women
McCracken explains, “We look at a community holistically. There’s no point in building a medical clinic if you’re not educating people about health issues. If not, everything becomes a silo with no interconnectivity. Approaching people holistically creates success.”
Committees of teachers, care providers, local government ofﬁcials and community leaders, among others, come together every few months to discuss Olive Branch programming. With the larger picture in view, they help resolve issues quickly and cooperatively, improving programs based on community feedback.
The Olive Branch for Children operates on limited funding and donated talent and time. Uniquely, the organization has no administration costs.
“I can tell you with certainty that your $100 will go to directly to work in Tanzania,” says McCracken. “None of it will be trapped in administration in Toronto.”
With its vision, achievements and dedication to partnering with communities and groups like Photographers Without Borders, the Olive Branch for Children is already successful. More important, Deborah McCracken sees a bright future for Tanzania and its people.
“My husband and I live with 30 children. I’m most proud of seeing these children stand up in the face of HIV or stigma or rejection. I’ve seen them stand up and be heard. I have no doubt that those children will change the country.”
“They will be leaders of tomorrow by being the best they can in whatever capacity.”
For more information on The Olive Branch for Children, its programs and how to offer assistance, visit theolivebranchforchildren.org or www.facebook.com/theolivebranchforchildren
Hey guys. For the next ten days, I’m going to be dedicating HONY to raising money for Hurricane Sandy. We’re going to try to do this in a HONY-like way. All of the blog’s content will be dedicated to telling the stories of people affected by the storm. Sandy left behind a lot of sad stories, but also some happy ones. We’re going to try to tell them all. The good people at Tumblr have stepped in to cosponsor the fundraiser, and they are going to be promoting these stories through their channels. We will simultaneously be holding an Indiegogo campaign. I’m excited to announce that 100% of proceeds will be going to relief efforts: Indiegogo is waiving fees. Paypal is waiving fees. Tumblr is providing goodies. And I’m covering the cost of the photographs. We found a damn good charity too. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is a family-owned charity in Staten Island, located right in the heart of one of the worst hit areas. They’ve been doing amazing work the last couple weeks, and have been endorsed by many government officials.
I want to emphasize that this is a fundraiser, and not a print sale. With that being said, I can assure you that it will be the last time prints will be made available for at least a year. Perhaps much longer than that. Let’s have some fun next week… and kick some Sandy ass!
The campaign page:
Without Borders, one of the terms you hear so much in today’s not-for-profit world. What is it with this need we have to abandon our borders? Recently bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin called our 21st century civilization the ‘empathic’ one. Today we have such connectivity wit the world around us it’s hard to ignore all the troubles we have in the world and that is where our empathy comes in. Ok here it is a little psych lesson, we have certain neurons called ‘mirror neurons’ and what happens is that we are soft wired so that when we see someone going through pain, joy, frustration etc…and we can feel it our brain has the same neurons light up for us. This is not news or unusual at all, it’s like that feeling when you see a spider creeping up someone back and you feel the shiver run though you, but what did that do to us today when we see everything happening in real time? In the last 10 years we have tapped into humans’ need to be involved and connected and the want and need to help and come with this fantastic concept of without borders. Well where does that put us as Photographers Without Borders? (PWB) By connecting photographers to charities in need, we are helping spread messages of all the great work being done in the world. We encourage a sense of community among photographers by providing accessible professional development opportunities and showcasing their exclusive works at our exhibits and on our website where proceeds of each fine art print go to a partnered charity of the buyer’s choice. Through our events, social media and wonderful work we try and show though our eyes and lens both the beauty and troubles of the world to inspire and connect everyone. Our team is composed of inspiring and motivated people who work hard and want to make the world a better place. This year is going to be a exiting and busy year and we hope you all stay connected and follow us in our journey and learn about the great things happening in the world today.
The creative act lasts but a brief moment, a lightning instant of give-and-take, just long enough for you to level the camera and to trap the fleeting prey in your little box. — Henri Cartier Bresson
On Wednesday we interviewed Eliza, the most exceptional teacher in the Montessori Outreach program. Eliza handles 50 kids every day, is incredibly organized, plays with them so that they enjoy learning. She’s always high energy.
For the most part, Eliza does not get paid for any of the work she does at the school because parents can’t or won’t pay. She farms to support herself and her family.
”Young people should worry about their education first (especially here, in rural Tanzania). Worry about everything else later, that will work itself out. Education is most important because education is our future.”
Interviewing some of West Tanzania’s most inspirational women; meeting new families; making new friends and dancing the night away in a Masai village— PWB’s first week in Tanzania has been nothing short of incredible.
We’re excited to be able to share an update from Carrie and Danielle, who are currently working in Tanzania with The Olive Branch for Children to create a photojournalism project on women and children taking positive action in their communities:
“The week began with the highlight:
The Celebrate Women Award Ceremony was held in a small village, inside a Montessori school built by the Olive Branch’s Toronto network. The contest was orchestrated by the Olive Branch for Children to recognize some of the incredible women making a difference in their communities. In typical East African style, the dancing, singing and speeches were energetic and inspired, and we were flattered to get the chance to partake. PWB and the Olive Branch were thrilled to be joined by Silvia Chant of the London School of Economics, who gave a short speech addressing the candidates and winners. After the awards were handed out, we all sat and ate together – and we got the chance to meet and get to know the elected women and members of the community.
We were invited to spend that night in a Masai Village with a friend and his family. We danced for hours and got some great shots together! Just a little light-painting with Masai Warriors on a Monday night! Thanks Lachlan McVie for the lesson!
Our days have otherwise been spent in the villages interviewing some of West Tanzania’s most inspirational women – entrepreneurs, innovators, personal warriors, advocates for female strength and empowerment… to name a few. We were lucky enough to be invited into their homes where we would meet their friends and families and they could share with us their stories, and often their ideas for the betterment of the nation. A few even showed us to their farms a short distance away, to check out their crops and the stunning, mountainous countryside.
On the way to and from the villages, Olive Branch founder Deborah and her husband, Putiyei were kind enough to bring us by a few of the Montessori schools and children’s homes they’ve built. When the kids were on break we were given the world’s BEST greetings! Needless to say, we ran, we played, chased and were chased…. The energy of these kids is incredible.
Nights have been spent mostly at the Zion home – the biggest family we’ve ever been a part of. Our 29 brother and sisters run up to us every day when we enter the front gate of the home, to grab the bags we’re carrying and ask us questions about our day. After a few hours of catching up, games, sports, workouts and dance-parties, the sun goes down and we all get ready for dinner. A little later, one or two will often sneak into our room before bedtime to give us pictures they’ve drawn for us throughout the day.
The sun is down in a heartbeat here by the equator, and the stars are out in layers. The Milky Way is clear across the entire sky. After a little work we’ll be headed to bed to get ready for more tomorrow.” -Carrie Kiborn, PWB Public Relations & Outreach Officer
For more info on our upcoming photojournalism project, stay tuned and check in regularly on our website: http://www.photographerswithoutborders.ca/ or shoot us an email at email@example.com!
Lighting Angular Features with Craig Pulsifer -
“Lighting is a game of angles – angles of incidence, angles of reflectance – it’s a bank shot on a billiards table where light is the photographer’s cue ball.” -Craig Pulsifer
In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality. — Alfred Stieglitz
A photograph has picked up a fact of life, and that fact will live forever. — Raghu Rai
“Practice takes time.
You can’t make attention. You can only create the conditions in which it grows.
You can’t make awareness. It’s already there, but it’s distorted by patterns of perception and emotional reaction.
It takes time for attention to grow. It takes time for new ways to evolve. It takes time to see differently.
The seeing happens in an instant, but it happens only when attention has grown and the conditions are right.
You can’t speed this up any more than you can make a tree grow faster.
Time isn’t the problem. It’s a matter of priorities.
Make practice part of your life and organize everything else around it.
If you try to squeeze practice into your life, other demands squeeze it out. Inevitably.
There is no killer app, no magic pill, no silver bullet.
Bigger, better, faster doesn’t work here.
Forget about being efficient. Be effective.
Clear away the weeds, work the soil and plant seeds. Then tend to them as they grow.
Each time you sit down to practice, take a few minutes to feel in your heart why this is important to you.
Nurture that seed, and all else follows.”
— Ken McLeod on honing your most valuable skills - as qtd. by Pat Harada Linfoot, of Octopus Garden Yoga centre in Toronto (www.octopusgardenyoga.com)
“People say photographs don’t lie, mine do.”
- David LaChapelle — Collector’s edition of Life, the Eisie Issue, spring 1998 , Page: 137.