Photographers Vision for Africa- Part 2: Macheka- the Girls Orphanage
We arrive and first thing I do is gasp at the breathtaking view of rolling hills, high grass, and lots and lots of young girls in matching plaid jumpers. We get out the car and start walking towards the girls. Right away they start coming up to us with wide eyes of curiosity. They shake our hands, ask our names, hold on to us, touch our jewelry, and look at each other and then back at us with wonder. It’s obvious many of them find our pale skin, soft hair, and painted nails very peculiar. And even though they can’t communicate with us in English, they lash on to our arms and smile to make sure they know we are welcomed.
They want to ask us so many questions, but only know so much English. A couple of the volunteers jump onto the soccer field and start kicking the ball around with the kids. A couple of us, me included, take out our camera and begin snapping pictures of the girls. Once we show them their image on the back of the camera their eyes widen with amazement and they laugh with excitement.
Some of the girls grab flowers and pose like models for the camera. Others get more creative and perform tricks while some of the kids continuously jump in front of the lens to get in as many pictures as they possibly can.
At one point I become so overwhelmed with all the requests for pictures that I come up with a game off the top of my head. One inspired by many weddings full of bridesmaids’ pictures. I tell a large group of girls begging for their picture that we’re going to try something different. I’m going to do a photo of every girl wearing red shoes. It takes them a few seconds to comprehend what I’m saying but once one girl figures it out she starts jumping up and down and pointing to everyone wearing red shoes. Now it’s a game. I have them show off their red shoes for the camera, and then I call another color- blue! Then black. Then white.
We then get to meet the girls that Friends Vision sponsors and sends to boarding school. They are on winter break so with no home to go to they spend their holidays and semester breaks at the orphanage. We take individual portraits of each of them to send to their sponsors. And when we are back in town a few days later we get prints made and framed of each girl to surprise her with a beautiful portrait for Christmas.
At the end of the day we sit down with the head staff of the children’s home. She tells us about the orphanage, the girls, their struggles, and some of the corrupt political systems they are stuck with…such as the criminal adolescent boys they were forced to take under their wing and house alongside so many vulnerable girls. Its tough hearing some of the stories, and how difficult it is to get help from their government. But they praise us for coming to their facility and spending quality time with the children, for now its all we can do.
We then surprise the staff and the girls with a donated laptop, camera, and a bag of toys. They are thrilled by the gifts and wide-eyed with joy. We spend some time showing them the basics of how the camera & laptop works. But its soon time for us to depart…but not to say goodbye.
We decide as a group to co-sponsor one of the girls so one more child can go to boarding school where she will have a proper education, nicer living conditions, and a better chance at a successful future.
If you would also like to sponsor a child, there are many affordable options, such as co-sponsoring with others, or a one-time donation. Go to Friends Vision to read about the many kids hoping to find sponsors to send them to boarding school & to find out how you can make a difference in a child’s life and become a sponsor.
To see more of the pictures from this day, play the slideshow below: