Haruma and Mukuro

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Many women in the slums hear of Nicole’s dedication to help empower women. So, Wednesday is spent meeting three different groups of women who have already begun a cooperative, supporting each other in their businesses but search for training and guidance. 

I wish I could convey effectively what it is I see as I walk through these streets and alleys. I am not able to make photographs with my Canon, because it simply is too dangerous. It is impossible to become anonymous with Nicole’s and my white faces. And to hold a camera, the worth being more than they make in a year or more, along with the total absence of security, makes it impossible to keep my camera out in the open. The women protect us by surrounding us as we walk to their homes and businesses. I carry my small toy camera in my hand though, shooting from the hip. I pray my images are not all of the ground or sky. 

I am losing words at this stage of the trip. It is excruciating to see their struggle to survive, the filth, the flies, the children playing in the muck, those who have given up hope and spend their days either huffing glue or chewing endlessly on leaves that bring on a high. 

But then I sit and observe these women. They begin to talk, expressing their dreams for their businesses, even dare to imagine buying their own land and building a day care center for children. They talk about their budget, how they save and offer loans to one another. They are business-savvy women and just need more tools to meet their goals. The darkness I feel entering into these slums slips away and the spirit of these women emerge instead. I’m so humbled by their courage.