Archive for the education Category

7 Billion Unique Stories

Posted in Documentary | Photography, education, News, Non Profit, Recent Projects, Uncategorized, womens reproductive healthcare on July 15, 2011 by tuschman

A new report from the UN comes just ahead of a demographic milestone: the world’s population is expected to pass 7 billion in late October, only a dozen years after it surpassed 6 billion. The UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) is about to release a new campaign urging each individual and organization to take creative action to solve the immense problems we face as global interconnected community. To quote from the brochure, “every day one billion of us go hungry, two billion of us are surviving on less than $1 a day, one billion of us don’t have access to clean water and more than one thousand women die in pregnancy or during childbirth each day.”

“In a world that is more interconnected than ever before, challenges such as poverty, inequality, women’s rights, aging and the environment belong to all of us.”

“These are problems that can, and must be solved. Thankfully, significant strides are being made by committed organizations and impassioned individuals all over the world. Working together, incremental actions will create exponential results.”

I am very proud that many of my images are being used to highlight this call to action. Below are ten posters featuring the campaign. Other photographs will also be used in a National Geographic insert, a multi-media web presentation and an exhibit in Copenhagen.

For those not familiar with UNFPA, the “United Nations Population Fund is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data for policies and programmes to reduce poverty and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV/AIDS, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. UNFPA – because everyone counts.”

For the remainder of the year I will be posting stories on some of the issues that I have documented this past year, including a girl’s education project in Rajasthan, India and family planning programs in Latin America for Planned Parenthood. I also will be working in Kenya and Ethiopia, documenting malaria treatment and prevention and women’s reproductive healthcare.

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Nigerian Chronicles VI: Bixby Girls Education

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, education, Nigeria, Non Profit, Recent Projects on October 17, 2010 by tuschman

An hour outside of Kaduna, we arrived in a small village to document the Bixby Girls’ Education project. It was raining, and as we waited outside a small mud structure, a few women came to sweep out the water that had accumulated on the floor and then proceeded to lay down a dry carpet. About 15 girls appeared, and they all sat down in a big circle in the room and took turns reading from a single, soft covered book.

The girls are taught once a week in the afternoon from 3 PM to 5 PM. Every group of fifteen girls has one mentor. The books consist of some folklore stories that teach them cultural values; other books teach the girls the basics of child-raising and simple ways of combating deadly diseases through vaccines, including practical details of when to get them and where they are available. Other books discuss health-related issues: oral rehydration therapy, HIV/AIDS, and gender equality.

During the Children’s Day Celebration, the girls are normally taken out for excursions to various places with Program Officers and their mentors. The girls started this program completely illiterate, but now they can read and write without much difficulty.

Some girls were removed from the program by their parents, who had arranged marriages for their daughters.  Nevertheless, some of these girls later came back to continue with their studies.

I was very moved by the intensity of these girls as a single, very worn book was passed around so each girl could take a turn reading a single passage. Their attention was complete and unwavering as they were soaking up each and every word that was read aloud.

When everyone had had a turn reading, the mentor brought out a laptop computer and all the girls surrounded her, jostling with each other to be able to get a view of the computer screen. There was an image on the screen of a building in Europe (or the U.S.), and their hunger to get a glimpse of the outside world was palpable.

I have to admit from my Western eyes, I felt very sad that these girls were unlikely to ever have a chance to achieve their potential, to become doctors, nurses, lawyers, scientists, artists; their choice was limited to getting married and to having frequent pregnancies. I think it is wonderful that they learned how to read and write, but I could sense from photographing them that there was so much more they could achieve.

Nigeria has the wealth to educate these young girls and it is very unfortunate that the government can’t provide a full education that would give them the choice and the opportunity to attend a university. These girls’ situation is not unique; unfortunately, it is all too common. Their tragic loss of potential belongs not only to these young students who have such a desire to learn, but also to the nation of Nigeria and to the wider world.

The Emir of the village. It is customary to always greet an Emir when entering a village and get his permission to visit and photograph.

The girls reading and attentively listening:

The girls were totally captivated by the computer.

Nigerian Chronicles II- Yola Nomadic Schools

Posted in Africa, Documentary | Photography, education, Nigeria, Non Profit, Recent Projects, womens reproductive healthcare on September 22, 2010 by tuschman

These schools were funded by the Packard Foundation.  According to the foundation, the education of girls is the best indicator of reproductive health outcomes as they mature into women of child bearing age. The plan is to make sure these children will receive an education that will carry them through secondary school.

While these young girls  (and boys) are in the classroom, their parents also are instructed on reproductive health care issues. I was under the impression that the education was limited to the seasonal time that their families spent in this region grazing their cattle, but I was mistaken. Migratory patterns have become more erratic. This area, along the 10th parallel in Africa, is a region greatly affected by climate change. The deserts to the north are moving south by the rate of a quarter to a half mile per year and the frequent droughts make it all the more difficult for these tribes to follow their traditional migratory routes.

Now the mothers and children stay here while the fathers assume the nomadic life, following the rains with their herds.  One of the hidden blessings is that these children now have an opportunity to receive an education.

The schools I visited had, at most, one book per classroom. All learning was by rote. It never ceases to amaze me how children that live in cultures where education is not an integral part of their lives, where there are no books or any other of the resources we take for granted, have such a strong  motivation to learn. I am especially impressed by their attention span, as they continually listen and recite every word their teacher enunciates.

Below is a gallery of the images from two of the nomadic schools we visited.

The three instructors:

End of school day: