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 www.flickr.com/wansmolbag. 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 www.flickr.com/wansmolbag 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
Wellington
New Zealand


Thanks for considering helping us out.

All the best,

Caroline

4 comments:

JT said...

Caroline,
We will be visting Port Vila, How can we drop off a camera for you/the school?

del said...

Hi,
Just wondering if you still need digital cameras? Also, we are thinking of travelling to Port Vila later in the year, is it possible to visit the school? Are there any other things the children can use? look forward to hearing back from you.

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