Amina Mohamed, founded Cameras For Girls to change the lives of girls and women in Uganda, through the power of photography.
Samantha Byakutaga is a 25-year-old young woman who graduated from Uganda Christian University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications Degree and a major in journalism. She was working on a contract position at Success Africa as a media and communications fellow. She has recently gotten a full-time position with the same company, which is outstanding as the country has suffered a tremendous blow from COVID, with many of the citizens suffering from unemployment.
How Covid Impacted Females In the Developing World
COVID hit, and it hit hard in Uganda. The Government did not support its citizens with any food or funds. Schools were closed, including universities. Jobs were stalled, and job offers were not forthcoming in a country where the unemployment rate was pre-covid already at a ridiculously high level; we in the first world would not understand. After COVID, the rate would climb to almost 80% of the country being unemployed. It is hard to fathom, and sadly Uganda is not alone in this – most of the developing world can repeat the same sad statistics.
However, the hardest hit is the females in the developing world. Regardless of age and status, many females have had to turn to sell themselves for food to feed themselves and their children. Rape has increased, and the number of women who have been sold into sexual slavery has also increased. While most of us in the developed world are concerned about maintaining our current way of life, it has been stripped bare in the developing world.
Samantha Attests Her Success to the Support She Received From Family
Having had the chance to grow with a fully supportive family, Samantha believes heavily shaped her personal life and career path. She strives to see that she passes on the same support she was given to those that need it and has been instrumental in assisting various organizations that focus on children and families by volunteering her time using her skills in media.
I first met Samantha in August 2019, when I was there to teach a 3-day workshop to the 2nd cohort of girls in Kampala, Uganda. I was immediately impressed as she soaked in the training; asked all the right questions, and expressed her opinions openly – something that many in the class were not comfortable doing. Not for fear of upsetting the balance but more from how the school system works, which was formed on the British school system after the colonial era that took shape in much of Africa.
After the initial 3-day photography training in Kampala, Uganda, Samantha also took part in a 5-day filmmaking camp with our partner, Youth Arts Movement Uganda. The camp helped expand her story-telling abilities and build her repertoire of skills for her journalism career.
Skills-based Training That Leads To Job Creation
Our goal at Cameras For Girls is to provide a curriculum to help females in the host country get paid work in journalism or photojournalism. Working with themes of gender equality and female empowerment, we work on teaching photography and empower them with business skills. We help them refine their resumes and their cover letters and build out a good Linkedin profile as well. The goal for some of these girls is to work abroad in developed countries. Therefore providing them with these necessary skills can enable them to reach far and wide in their endeavours.
After I returned home to Canada, I continued to teach photography using online methods, and Samantha was active throughout and improving as each month passed. Throughout the training and beyond, Samantha was persistent and kept looking for both paid and unpaid opportunities where she could put her skills to use and build up her resume.
Samantha says, “Learning photography without paying a penny is a huge blessing for me because photography has always been a passion to me. And therefore, learning and practicing what I love at no cost is exciting. Having a camera is going to bring me miracles. With extra effort and practice, I know I’ll bless many lives with my photography and be able to earn a living. I’m thankful to Cameras For Girls for giving me this opportunity.”
Photo Credit by DanielMoxie0.
Our volunteers in Uganda, Daniel Moxie and Kenny_G_Mulinde, held a 2-day photoshoot so the girls could get their professional headshots done. Getting a professional headshot in Uganda is not cheap. For some of our students, this is a heavy financial barrier to overcome, so we provide a headshot at no cost so that they can put their best foot forward when seeking employment.
Below are some of the images that Samantha took during her training with Cameras For Girls.
Photo of a girl in Kampala @Samantha Byakatuga
Local well for collecting water in Kampala, Uganda @Samantha Byakatuga
A Little Ouchie @Samantha Byakatuga