If a photo is worth a thousand words, youth in Dominica have filled a library.
Jack and Barbara Clarke, ChildFund International donors since the early 1980s, were in search of an innovative way to continue giving to children – in the past they’ve sponsored projects in Zambia to teach youth carpentry skills and in Brazil they helped start a jewelry making business.
“We had the opportunity to see our project in action,” Jack says about visiting the carpentry program, “which was really cool for us.”
In 2008, they came up with an idea for a photography project in Dominica.
The Clarkes teamed up with Rick Falco, president and creative director of Vision Project, for the chance to introduce photography to the youth of Dominica. Vision Project is a nonprofit dedicated to the development of documentary photography, multimedia, investigative research and education.
For three weeks and 10 sessions, more than two dozen students were loaned cameras to be used as tools for visual and social research into their society. They learned everything from preparation and photography technique to the importance of documentation and editing.
“We want them (the youth of Dominica) to realize they have a voice and they can use the camera for that voice,” Rick says.
In fact, the photography course led to a 180-degree turnaround for 16-year-old Denzel, who had been involved in gang violence from an early age. The opportunity to see the world through a new lens ultimately led Denzel to make changes in his own life and begin a mentoring program for younger children.
On Oct. 19, representing ChildFund International, Denzel appeared at three separate events related to the United Nations Commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. His trip was made possible by the Clarkes' philanthropic support.
For Denzel and other youth, the photography class provided an opportunity to be heard.