Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
When I started my business Triple F Photo Tours, I knew I would take enthusiast and amateur photographers on a photo tour to Uganda. I knew I would be combining my passion for travel and photography, but I also wanted it to be about philanthropy and giving back to my home country of Uganda.
Me with my visitor Kim from Canada in Kampala, Uganda
I LEARNED EARLY ON TO GIVE BACK
My family and I came to Canada in 1972, after then-president Idi Amin expelled all the Indian Asians with only three months’ notices. We had a lovely life in Uganda, and like many refugees unexpectedly having to leave their homes and the lives they built, we were not prepared for life in Canada.
I grew up in a loving family and was taught very early that giving back is to make this world a wonderful place. Whether it was as a candy-striper at the local hospital in Burlington where I grew up, or in the nursing home nearby or with Rotary International on many local and international projects, I always volunteered.
Thus, when I started Triple F Photo Tours, I knew there had to be a component that would give back to the local females in Uganda.
Female students in 2019 Cameras For Girls Class, Kampala, Uganda
FEMALES ARE THE FUTURE EVERYWHERE
After visiting Uganda for the first time in 2007, I saw how females fared versus their male counterparts. Unfortunately, as is true in many developing nations, education is not free and accessible except for government education, which is rudimentary and does not prepare children for further education. Thus if parents want their kids to do well, they must pay for their education. For the cost of a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee every day, a child could get an excellent education and have a chance to change their lives for the better. Wrap your head around that!
However, as education is not free, many will pay to educate their sons over their daughters as they don’t see the value of education for girls.
Many girls are also married off as soon as they hit puberty, or they are needed at home to tend to housework, tilling the fields for crops and/or taking care of their younger siblings.
If you educate a man, you educate an individual. But if you educate a woman, you educate a nation. – African Proverb
Girls in the slums of Kampala, Uganda @Amina Mohamed Photography
Suffice it to say, my first visit home was a rude shock and awakening, as well as a realization that I needed to do something to change the status quo. Unfortunately, it would take me many years to realize how I could instill change. Even if I could change the life of one girl in Uganda, I would feel it to be a success. While it is a drop in the bucket, every grassroots movement has to start somewhere.
We took our travellers from Canada, the US and Europe to Uganda for a 14-day tour on our first photo tour. We introduced them to 15 young women who were attending our first camera training in Kampala. These young women were either recent graduates of a Mass Communication and Journalism Program or were in the last year of studies or had graduated over a year ago and were still seeking employment in the field.
They lacked one tangible thing to turn their dreams into reality. That one thing we in the developed world take for granted is a camera. This tool enables a girl to get a paid job as a journalist. But wait, she must also know how to use it, right? Correct, and that’s where Cameras For Girls comes in.
Female Students in Cameras For Girls training 2019, Kampala, Uganda
CAMERAS FOR GIRLS IS USING THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY TO CHANGE THE LIVES OF FEMALES IN UGANDA
Cameras For Girls recruits local girls from our university partners, Makerere University and Uganda Christian University. We give each of the 15 girls a camera to keep and the training to tell stories that matter to them. We also give them a 2-day field experience with a local Ugandan-based NGO called Concern For The Girl Child. They work with the same themes we do; poverty alleviation, gender inequality, and a right to education.
Cameras For Girls has now taught 32 girls since we started in August 2018. We continue to train online, and once COVID has passed and it is safe to travel again, we will be doing our 3rd in-person training.
I am proud to share that out of the 32 girls we have trained, 11 now have full-time jobs. Unfortunately, COVID stopped our in-person training. It also impacted our girls to find work as the economy and job growth rate have stagnated even further due to the direct impact.
Two young girls in the slums of Kampala, Uganda 2019 @Amina Mohamed Photography
COVID MIGHT HAVE STALLED US, BUT IT WON’T STOP OUR WORK
While we are here in Canada, waiting for life to resume to a new normal, we continue to raise awareness and funds to purchase the cameras for our next training and, more importantly, to support those students who were hit financially. Food right now is more important than cameras, so we help our students with funds for food, rent, and transportation.
If you are interested in helping, please visit our website to learn more at Cameras For Girls, and you can donate to our cause through our Go Fund Me campaign. Every dollar raised goes directly to support our girls in Uganda with food, rent and transportation, and the purchase of cameras.