As you may have read here our boys have been getting weekly lessons in photography from American teacher Amber for the last few months. We’ve all be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work the kids have been producing and are often amazed at the shots they take, which show the Rwandan Orphans Project through their eyes. Last week Amber organised an exhibition at a communal office space in Kigali – called The Office – to show off some of the photos the kids have produced.
We picked 9 names out of a hat, they got dressed up in their best clothes, and we all excitedly set off in a bus from the ROP to town.
The kids’ photos were mounted around the large office space, everything from close-ups of their friends’ faces, to the acrobatics the boys are so good at, to documenting daily life at the ROP. One wall was dedicated to photos the boys had taken of their own bodies, which they’d coloured in and written over. Some chose to write about themselves or their bodies, others about their hopes and aspirations. For us to see them writing about their dreams for the future when we’ve seen how hopeless some of them can be at their lowest point was really nice.
The evening was packed from start to finish. Hundreds of people came to see the boys’ photos and ask them questions about their work and their lives. The kids told us that at first they were nervous and didn’t know what to say to all these adults. But gradually, and probably with the help of the multiple sugar-ey drinks people kept buying them, they opened up and were confident enough to go round pointing out their photos and explaining them.
When not busy playing on the table football and ping-pong table and slurping their drinks, the kids were happy mingling, meeting different people and showing off their photos. They told us afterwards that they held a meeting around the football table where they discussed how nervous they were. One of them pointed out that all these people were here for them, and to see their work, and they agreed that they shouldn’t be nervous and should instead enjoy it. It’s great to see our kids developing into mature, proud, open-minded little people before our eyes and it makes us very proud of them.
As the night drew to a close and we put the boys back on the bus to head home Amber told us that we had sold 17 photos from the exhibition raising more than $700 in much-needed funds for the ROP. The exhibition is still on for another month so hopefully we will be able to sell even more before the month is out. On the bus we told the kids that through their photos they had helped raise money to feed the ROP center for about 2 weeks and they all cheered, and said they were happy to be able to give something back to the ROP. What we didn’t tell them (because we thought the amount of money involved might have blown their minds) was that earlier that week, one of their photos had sold for $2,000 at an auction in aid of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. That money won’t come to ROP, it will go towards funding the photographic programme that helped the boys produce their work. But we couldn’t be happier that people across the world recognise the value of the work our kids are producing.
Below are some great photos from the night, most of which were taken by our boys themselves (hence the angle). We hope you enjoy them.
Above: Before leaving we gathered the boys together to tell them how many photos we sold, how much money they had raised for the ROP and how proud of them we were for what they achieved. They were thrilled.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to see the all of the photos from our big event, please click here.