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We've been incredibly lucky over the last 10 years of Pride 'n Purpose to be touched by so many people who have given their time and support to our communities around Ulusaba. In January, we welcomed back Shellyto Pride 'n Purpose to spend some time with us, sharing her photography skills with children from the local communities. We'll be sharing Shelly's experiences over the next few days. Over to you, Shelly...
In 2012, I was chosen along with 11 others as part of a staff connection trip for Virgin Unite. We ventured from all corners of the globe to become part of Pride 'n Purpose for a week, learning about, and helping out the local communities that surround the game reserve. From the first breath I took there, I knew it wouldn't be my last. There is something magical, not only about Africa itself, but about the people who call the Sabi Sand home.
During our time with Pride 'n Purpose, I realised that my camera was one of the things that helped me to connect with the people there. By taking a photo of someone, you make contact, you are present, you feel them in a different way, and they feel you as well. The kids in the community of Dumphries immediately stole little chunks of my soul when they posed for my camera, ran up to see their picture, giggled with wide eyes, and then ran back to take more. The experience of interacting with the kids there, along with the photos that were captured engraved a love in my core for them.
When I returned home, I came up with the idea to teach the basics of photography as a sort of art therapy-slash-fundraising tool. Teach the kids how to take photos, and have them use it as a way to express themselves and tell stories of their own about the world they live in. Then I would curate the best photographs into a gallery show that would raise money for their community. I loved the idea that they could essentially fund themselves through taking photos and giving each other smiles.
At first, I was expecting to show the basics of photography to elementary school children, seeing what they would come up with on their own just knowing how to press the shutter button. Yet, once I arrived, I decided (along with the encouragement of David from Pride 'n Purpose) to also hold a class for high school students who could grasp the concepts of photography better, as well as teach their teachers so they could continue the program once I was gone. My goal in all of this has been to create inspiration for these kids, give them an art form that they can have fun with, and let them have the tools for expression and experimentation.
The project went incredibly well and I got to spend time with so many individuals that were truly excited about learning, and at the end of the day, I feel like I made a difference. The show is coming up this spring in San Francisco, and my heart is racing in anticipation to create a stunning visual experience to share with my community, and in that, change the world just a little bit more through love and art.
We'll be sharing some highlights of Shelly's experience over the next week, so stay tuned. To take a look a Shelly's blog click here. To find out how you can get involved in supporting Pride 'n Purpose click here.
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