National Geographic

It’s been an exciting week, where the usual details of Mission life are all but overshadowed by the arrival of a National Geographic Photo Camp team. As an organization that loves great photography, it is an amazing honor to host this group of world class professionals an a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our kids (and staff) to learn from the best. The focus of the 4 day workshops is story telling, specifically through images and written word.

Headlining the event is Pulitzer Prize winning writer Paul Solopek, who is currently on a 21,000 mile walk across the Earth, following the migration of the human race and reporting back on the people he meets along the way. The fact that his path has crossed ours at this moment in time is both an honor and a privilege. You can follow his epic journey at www.outofedenwalk.com

We also have Mattieu Paley, National Geographic veteran who has lived all around the world and brings a powerful visual style along with a great rapport with kids. Together with a powerful team and brand new equipment, all participants have been on a photographic high, scouring the farm for stories and creating a buzz constant shutter-clicking activity.

In next weeks PL, we’ll be showcasing the work the kids have come up with along with some stories they are researching and writing. It’s been an incredible journey for many of the camp participants, and we can’t wait to share their work with you.

For now, here are a few behind the scenes snaps to give you a feel of our National Geographic Photo Camp experience.

Though we’ve been proud of all the work our kids have produced, a few stories have really impressed us. The first involves Seema, one of our more reserved older girls. Seema decided to focus on a local woman who collects wood from the forest. It started as a simple snap shot about a character we see every day delivering firewood to the kitchen…but after an obligatory interview, she discovered a much deeper story.

A single mother with three children, a widow, abandoned by her in laws, who walks four kilometers each day to carry a pile of heavy logs back on her head from a local jungle. She earns 50 rupees per day, less than one dollar. In monsoon, in summer heat, whether sick or tired, she must work or she, and her children, simply do not eat. And Seema is preparing to share this woman’s story with the world.

Another great story involved Jessica, who decided to tell the contrast of the Mission with the local town of Banbasa. The peace of the farm with the bustle just down the street. It’s an ambitious project that had her out in the local market, looking for images and interviewing locals. Though Clifton and Mattieu went with her, she put herself out there, sitting among unknown men, speaking up, getting her questions answered. In a culture where often girls do not speak up, it was beautiful to see her being respected getting her voice heard.

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About the Author:

Clifton is the grandson of Maxton D. Strong the founder of The GSAM. In 2004 at 19 years old he moved out from Australia to India with his parents to continue on his grandfathers work. Today he is working as the Deputy Director of the orphanage and the Chairman of the Maxton Strong School. He is married to Priscilla, a former child of the mission and together they have 3 sons.

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