Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
Cameras for Girls is the charitable arm of Triple F Photo Tours. I realize it’s not always clear how it works and why it’s such an important part of our photo tour to Uganda.
Cameras for Girls takes place at the beginning of our 18-day photo tour to Uganda. We carve out 3 days, in the beginning, to teach photography to local girls, who are learning to be journalists. These girls are recruited from a Mass Communication and Journalism program at either Makerere University or Uganda Christian University in Kampala, Uganda. These partners recruit and short-list the applicants and after receiving the applications we choose the 15 girls who will undergo the year-long training.
Amina teaching the 2019 cohort of students at the Cameras For Girls workshop in Kampala, Uganda
Why teach photography to these girls?
We conduct an initial 3-day workshop in Kampala, Uganda with 15 young women. After I return back to Canada, I then conduct the full curriculum online, using bi-weekly zoom calls, video training, one-on-one feedback, monthly assignments and communication and assistance through a private Whatsapp and Facebook group.
Unlike North America, these girls are not given the tools for their job or taught how to use specific tools required to do their jobs. Tools such as a camera. We provide a camera to keep, and we teach these girls how to use the camera and how to tell stories that matter to them. After all, they are journalists – either in training or still in school and hoping to find work in the very male-dominated industry.
To date, we have taught photography to 32 girls – some who were struggling to find work and some who were still in school. I am proud to share that eleven now have full-time jobs in some capacity using the camera skills to help launch their careers. I am positive that more would have had jobs by now if it had not been for the disruption of COVID. Uganda, like many other developing countries, has suffered greatly under the economic pressures of the pandemic and females around the world have been the hardest hit.
What does the training look like?
In our next training, we will add two days at the end of our photo-tour to work with a local NGO in Uganda with the same themes we are working towards: gender equality, female empowerment, and support in finding work. I will choose five girls who showed the most promise from the initial training to accompany me to document their work. This exercise serves two purposes. The first is that the NGO will get photos to help them tell their own stories and share their work with the world. The second and most important will be that these girls will build a work portfolio, which will help them find employment in their field.
Covid-19 might have halted our training for August 2020, but it will not stop our growth. We are looking forward to continuing our training in-person when things resume to normal. In the meantime, we continue to function with training through our online platform that was built for this very purpose. Through our platform, our students can continue to learn and expand their photography knowledge as well as their business skills. This platform is completely free to the girls as is the training but we cannot do it without the support of our donors.
Amina helping Hafitha with her camera at the Cameras For Girls workshop in Kampala, Uganda
What are our future plans?
Even though COVID has upended a lot of our plans, we continue to move forward. We are currently in discussion with a female-led group in South Africa and a group in Alaska among others. Once our plans are concrete we will have some exciting announcements to make.
In the meantime, we continue to support our Ugandan students to move forward and to continue reaching for the stars.