Ahecha means "I see" in Guarani, and it is the name of an amazing program here in Peace Corps Paraguay. With this program, volunteers who sign up, receive a kit with a number of cameras inside to use in their communities to teach photography!
I received my Ahecha kit at the end of November. This ended up not being the best time for me as I was traveling a lot for holiday season, last minute planning for the camp and just to escape the summer heat. So my Ahecha experience ended up being a little more unofficial than others, I didn't teach any classes or workshops, but, interested children would show up to my house and have impromptu sessions. We talked about various topics from how to use a camera, how to treat cameras, and what makes a good photo.
Children here are so fascinated with cameras because they are not as common as they are in America. Some kids didn't really care to listen to the lessons I would teach and would just take pictures of anything and everything (including a million selfies!). But I did have a handful of students who really paid attention and put in to practice what I taught them.
Here are a random selection of some of my favorite pictures taken:
|"Volando" - AnaLiz (age 16)|
|"Ojos" - Elena (age 5)|
|"Chipa" - Fatima (age 13)|
|"Locitos"- Fatima (age 13)|
|"Aventuras" - Fatima (age 13) |
|"Tomando Mate" - Mariana (age 9)|
|"Guapa" - Mariana (age 9)|
|"Pensando" - Mariana (age 9)|
This project can also inspire other effects aside from creativity. I've talked about Elena before in other blogs. She is my 5 year old neighbor. Most times I absolutely adore her and other times she drives me insane. Honestly, I can see why she acts the way she does though. She is no longer the baby of the family now that 3 year old Alex, who is actually her nephew, is around and that can be hard for any child to understand. But, also she has her mother, grandparents, 2 older brothers and 6 older sisters who all are telling her what to do all the time and that can definitely be confusing to a 5 year old girl, especially if she gets opposing messages from them.
So when we started this project and I gave her the responsibility of taking care of this camera for a few hours at a time, she was SO excited. Before, I was a little nervous that she might break it, but, she took such good care of it I was so proud of her. One day at her grandfather's birthday party I told her she was in charge of taking pictures of the fiesta. At one point in the day, one of her sisters took the camera away from her for no reason, only because she said she was too mala (bad) to be allowed to have it. Normally, I don't like to get involved in disciplinary situations like that, numerous times they have told me to hit/spank Elena or Alex when they do something bad too me or in front of me, it is very uncomfortable. But, this time I stepped in. I told her sister that I had specifically given her the camera to take pictures of the party and explained that Elena knows how to take good care of it. I also told her that you can't expect Elena to learn about responsibility and how to value things if you don't give her a chance. I really hope this experience has given Elena a little more confidence because sometimes I'm worried she'll get lost in the shuffle of her large family.
http://ahechaparaguay.blogspot.com/ - Here is a link to the Ahecha blog if you want to check out more pictures.
Labels: Ahecha, Camera, Youth