Sometimes — especially when it’s the dog days of winter and I’m home with sick children — my world can get feeling a little…small. Which is why I was particularly excited to get an email from my friend Linda introducing the new website for Through the Eyes of Hope.
So, by way of quick introduction, I met Linda back when we were both living in New York City, and we were both fledgling photographers. But she was always much, much better than me. She did let me tag along with her on some wedding jobs, though! Here’s her photo website, but to be honest I don’t know if she’s even doing much of this anymore, BECAUSE:
She went to Rwanda.
I so clearly remember Linda’s first trip to Rwanda, since it happened right around the same time that Erick and I were going to Tanzania to help manage a school and house building project. Back in New York, Linda and I had some great conversations about how Africa had changed our lives. But there’s change and then there’s CHANGE: Africa changed my life in the sense that I support my husband’s research there while sitting in my comfy Vermont kitchen and patiently (sometimes) waiting for the right time for our family to get more involved; Africa changed Linda’s life, and she went for it. She kept going back and back and back, she started photography workshops with orphaned children at the Kagugu School, and out of that she founded the Through the Eyes of Hope Project.
You can learn lots more on the website, but Through the Eyes of Hope is thriving now. Linda teaches photography skills to kids in Rwanda — and, when she’s stateside, in the Bronx — and puts on shows of their work. The kids use the photography as a way of capturing their lives, they learn marketable skills that help them pay their school fees, and the act of making art also serves as a form of therapy to heal what’s been broken in their lives. I always get so excited when I read Linda’s updates, because she’s just been so dedicated to this project even when it has NOT been at all easy. Sometimes I know it’s broken her heart, but she’s the Little Engine That Kicked Butt.
Anyway, I really just wanted to share this as something different and introduce you to Linda, because I find Through the Eyes of Hope very inspiring. You will also notice that there are opportunities to donate on the website, OR to purchase prints of the kids’ photographs. There are some really lovely images available that I plan to give myself for my “birthday.” Our family is currently subscribed in the Postcard of the Month program, where every month for a year we get a photo postcard from one of her students. I keep them right next to my desk in the kitchen, to remind myself of what’s real, elsewhere in the world: