Photovoice’s new faces in Cameroon

Many of you have heard me droning on over the years about photovoice.  If you’ve ever listened to me blab on about the method, perhaps you inevitably converted to the belief that handing cameras over to community members can indeed help draw out the insights and knowledge that is housed in each resident. I’ve probably mentioned that what the development sector really needs to is ask program beneficiaries their views on the issues, challenges and impacts. Perhaps you’ve now become tired of hearing me sing the same tune over and over.

But, it’ about to get worse! My quest for photovoice world domination has entered a new era.

I’ve recruited a new group of photovoice aficionados!

You’ll remember that I’ve already facilitated some pilot photovoice projects here in Cameroon. If you’re reading this you’ve probably seen the pictures taken by HIV&AIDS programme beneficiaries and human rights defenders.  But what you might not know is that a few months ago I developed – along with others at VSO Cameroon – a project proposal that we sent to Canada.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) liked what they saw and decided to fund the full roll-out of Photovoice as a participatory monitoring & evaluation tool here in Cameroon!

Soon there will be a total of 18 cameras in the country used by a team of fearless photovoice facilitators to involve our beneficiaries in building our programs’ effectiveness.

18 cameras used in 16 photovoice projects between now and April! The subjects to include research and assessments of maternal and women’s health, livelihood support strategies, barriers to girls education, basic services and participatory budgeting.

Obviously one Greg can’t do all these projects on his own!  Never mind advances in cloning technology … I needed help!

So we put out the call for VSO staff and volunteers who wanted to become photovoice trainers throughout the country.  Eight dynamic and dedicated people answered.

They committed to co-facilitating at least one photovoice project and train one of VSO’s Cameroonian partners to use the method too!  Last week we all gathered in Yaoundé where I facilitated a “train the trainers” workshop with the group.

the new faces of photovoic in Cameroon: Achille, Caroline, Cornelia, Kelvin, Marceline, Rosy, Shamsul & Silvestre

Passion and eagerness oozed from Achille, Caroline (who admitted to sleeping with the facilitator but received no undue consideration!), Cornelia, Kelvin, Marceline, Rosy, Shamsul and Silvestre. A few more hardy souls will be trained in September when schools reopen for the new Cameroonian school year.

As part of the two-day training they even got to participate in their own “mock” photovoice project.  They’d brought their own photographs and were prepared to share their insights into social issues that mattered to them.

Here are a few of the photographs and issues that they shared.

Shamsul: Council rules say the office must be open - but say nothing about anyone being there! A simple solution is tracking sheets for office attendance.

Kelvin: These boys should be in school but their father (in back of picture) wants them to earn income for family and pay for school fees? What can be done? Maybe school after work hours?

Caroline: The Abangoh orphanage started a bread oven as an income generating activity instead of just waiting for donations.

Cornelia: The Ntankah wowen's group found this abandoned widow a house but she needed many other kinds of support. Seeing this picture helped the group identify that they needed to do better needs assessments with clients before giving help.

Marceline: Supposedly this school was built of cement in 2004 but obviously the money didn't get spent properly as the classrooms are made of thatch. Sharing this picture with government officials led them to commit to finally doing something about it.

So over the coming months keep an eye out for even more photovoice images posted here.

But most importantly, keep an eye on these new faces of photovoice in Cameroon!

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~ by Greg Spira on June 4, 2011.

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