Empowering the children of DR Congo through photography

Snap Foundation was formed through the idea that photography can be used to empower disadvantaged children around the world. This summer, they developed a trial programme in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the aim of running volunteer schemes there in the future.

Despite the Congo’s tight restrictions on photography, it is an extremely interesting country to any traveler – let alone a photographer. The trip was not without problems, but was overall a huge success. Both the teachers and the pupils were excited to learn more, so Snap will definitely be returning.

Although many of the lessons are classroom and playground based, a massive part of this project is based on getting pupils out onto the streets to take photos. This helps them grow into both energetic and confident photojournalists.

Even with the theoretical knowledge of light, perspective and people skills – the challenge of stopping strangers in the streets could’ve been too daunting for these children, who were very shy at first. But the kids did a great job; it was amazing to watch.

Some kids were even seen chasing people down on motorbikes and in trucks to ask for a photo – they really took control of their photos and seemed to be having a lot of fun.

The challenge with this work was not only having enough confidence to talk to strangers, but to explain exactly what you want and to convince them to agree to being photographed. Once they agree, pupils would then have to get the shot they wanted and direct if needed. Even established photographers struggle with this.

Two pupils, Jina and Kisimba, really excelled in their street photography and appeared to be thriving working on their own, so they were set a new challenge. They were given a film camera to take home for a few days to shoot life around them and tell their story.

The idea was for them to think more about what they wanted to shoot without our supervision, and to create an outlet through which they can express themselves and share their story.

The results were very impressive and overall, the trip was both successful and inspiring. Snap is already looking forward to their next visit to the Congo to work with these children in more depth.

Visit the Snap Foundations website to keep up to date with their projects.

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