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Photo: Placide Mbingole
Eyes Behind the Camera: Congolese Share Their Story
An exhibition of photographs taken by children in the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a participatory media project.
Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington
Through April 22, 10 am-5 pm
An exhibition currently on view at the Indiana University Art Museum in Bloomington offers a view of daily life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as seen by through the eyes of young people in the central African nation.
Eyes Behind the Camera: Congolese Share Their Story is the result of a partnership between a Congolese school and orphanage, Program of Aid and Integration to the Underprivileged (PAID), with Giving Back to Africa, a Bloomington-based, international nonprofit.
A Partnership To Combat Poverty
Michael Valliant is Giving Back to Africa’s administrative director. “The community where PAID is based is quite literally the poorest of the poor,” he explains. “That’s really saying something for the Congo, which is a dramatically poverty-stricken, conflict-ridden place. On the UN Human Development Index, they are 167 out of 168.”
Giving Back to Africa is dedicated to making a long-term investment in educating young people in the central African country (formerly known as Zaire). Giving cameras to the children at PAID was a youth-empowerment initiative directly in line with the organization’s mission.
“What we’re about is giving kids opportunities through education to improve their lives,” says Valliant, “and — we hope — be sources of positive change.”
From the 500 pictures taken by the students and their teachers, the organizers selected images that include a boy dribbling a soccer ball, a girl jumping rope, and elders relaxing in chairs under a shady tree.
“One of the goals of this project,” said Valliant, “was to show that in the midst of all of this need and poverty, are incredible sources of happiness, play, and possibilities.”
The images, accompanied by text written by the students and their teachers, are on view at the IU Art Museum through April 22. Plans are in the works to tour Eyes Behind the Camera around the state and the country, along with an exchange program that would give Monroe County school children the same opportunity to document their lives, with the ultimate goal of an exhibition at a Congolese venue.
More photographs from the participatory media project can be seen at Giving Back to Africa’s Facebook page.