Thursday, February 21, 2008

Letter from Caroline Mastreani in Vanuatu

Dear Friends & Family,

As some of you may know, I am currently living in Vanuatu (country in the South Pacific) where I am teaching photography to local youth. We've decided to call ourselves Youth Voices, which is the name of the organization I set up some years ago in the US to do the same thing.

Port Vila, the capital city, is home to a vibrant community of young people whose voices
are struggling to be heard. Youth Voices attempts to give a voice to these youth by using photography as a means of creative expression. Because public schools are not free here in Port Vila, there is a large population of youth who cannot afford to attend school. These kids have little to do in a town that doesn't offer them many good job prospects either. Instead they have chosen to spend their time at a local youth centre, Wan Smolbag Yut Senta, a registered charitable organization. The youth pay 100 vatu ($1 US) for a year and are able to take as many classes as they want in things like cooking, painting, music, literacy, computer, life skills and photography.

For the past year and a half I have been leading photography workshops with groups of these teens. The results have been amazing. See for yourself at Not only have the youth gained technical photography skills, but also a self-confidence often unknown to them before. And we've all had a great time in the process.

Now to the reason for this email: we are desperate for some digital cameras so that these classes can continue this year. In the past we've used my own two cameras, which has been limiting with a class of 15 students. I'm hoping to collect about 20 cameras so that each student can have one to use for the duration of a course. I'd also like for this program to continue once I leave Vanuatu in September 2009. With a sufficient supply of resources and a history of successful workshops, this is far more likely to happen.

So, I'm asking for donations of your old, functioning digital cameras - no matter the condition, as long as they still work. In return, I can offer you a 5 x 7 inch print of one of the youth photos taken during our workshops. You can either choose one for yourself at or I will send you one that I've chosen.

Please have a look at the work the youth have produced by clicking on the link above (I've also attached a few of their photos) and feel free to email me back with any questions or concerns.

If you're keen to make a donation, they can be sent to:

Caroline Mastreani
New Zealand High Commission, PORT VILA
c/o MFAT
PO Box 18901
New Zealand

Thanks for considering helping us out.

All the best,