Please help me create an memorable and informative photography exhibit at Gallery Liberty 937 featuring the empowerment of children in Uganda. The exhibit opens Friday, September 23 and will be on display through Sunday, November 13th.
A Short Summary
My name is Martha Rial and I am independent photographer based in Pittsburgh. I have dedicated my 35-year career to photographing stories I believe are critical to understanding the human condition. I work hard to go beyond the stereotype and find the joy in the humanity that bonds us all.
Children working on handwriting at The Great Kings and Queens Children Centre.
In November 2015, I spent 15 days photographing the work Bright Kids Uganda and The Great Kings and Queens Children Centre are doing to support children in Uganda. The East African nation is widely considered to be among the poorest and most politically corrupt countries in the world. In this nation of almost 39 million people, an infamous civil war waged by Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties, extreme torture and atrocities, and the dislocation of more than a million people. Nearly half the population is under the age of 15, and an estimated 2 million children have been orphaned.
Murray Horne, curator of visual arts for the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, has invited me to present my photographs from Uganda at Gallery Liberty 937 opening on September 23, 2016.
The In Uganda, A School to Call Home exhibit marks my first solo show since my 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning essay Trek of Tears, which captured the tragedy of Rwandans and Burundians displaced by ethnic conflict. That collection of photographs traveled around the country and abroad for more than decade.
Victoria Nalongo Namusisi at her childhood home near Entebbe.
I was introduced to Bright Kids Uganda co-founder Victoria Nalongo Namusisi at the University of Pittsburgh by Dr. Lou Picard in 2012. Namusisi co-founded the school and orphanage 15 years ago after several successful careers as a sport journalist, Olympic track team coach, government official and the head of scouting in Uganda.
While in Uganda, Namusisi introduced me to former street kid Medi Bugembe who ran away from home when he was five years old. Namusisi rescued Medi from the streets when he was 11-years-old.
Medi joined other children who were neglected, orphaned or victims of extreme poverty at her newly opened Bright Kids Uganda orphanage where he was enrolled in school and encouraged to find his own path. After studying to become a teacher, Medi opened his own orphanage and school, The Great Kings and Queens Children’s Centre, on the outskirts of Kampala. Many of the children come from the same streets where he fought for survival.
Both projects I photographed—The Great Kings and Queens Children’s Centre and Bright Kids Uganda— have a connection to the Pittsburgh community. Pittsburghers have supported these projects financially and through educational outreach of the University Pittsburgh’s Ford Institute for Human Security, a program of the university’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). This exhibition is the culmination of a three-year planning process and the willingness of the subjects to share their life stories with the world.
A Bright Kids Uganda outing on Lake Victoria.
What We Need
What You Get
[$10] Wewali (way-buh-lay)
[$25] Kwesima (K-wess-eem-uh)
[$50] Okulimirirwa (Oh-coo-lee-meer-eer-wuh)
[$250] Bulungi (buh-loon-gee)
[$350] Amoyo (Ah-moi-oh)
Martha has created a special perk for donors in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area; she will make a portrait of you for $350. One family member, friend or significant other may join you for the portrait. Time not to exceed one hour. You can choose two images from our portrait session for personal use. Location can not be more than 25 miles from downtown Pittsburgh. Amoyo is Luganda for “self” in the way that it refers to the heart and mind. What better way is there to capture a beautiful heart and mind of a generous supporter than in a portrait?
[$500] Mukwano (muh-kwon-oh)
My goal is to inform and engage the Pittsburgh community and beyond in the recognition of global human security issues and the important work Pittsburghers are doing to support and empower Uganda’s youth and most vulnerable populations.
Classrooms at the Great Kings and Queens Children Centre.
Providing an authentic context for this exhibition is paramount to its success, so I am pleased Medi Bugembe and Victoria Nalongo Namusisi will be speaking at Community Forum: Stories from Uganda on the evening of Thursday, September 29th in Pittsburgh. This event is designed to help the public engage with the work and understand its social context (Their travel expenses are covered by ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples.)
Also speaking at the forum is Dr. Louis Picard, Director of International Development Programs and professor of Public and International Affairs and African Studies at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) at the University of Pittsburgh. Several GSPIA students will share their experiences as recent interns with these programs.
Risks & Challenges
Although I have received national attention for my work, mainstream art galleries are not always interested in showing my work because I choose to focus on social justice issues. It has been extremely challenging to obtain the necessary resources to produce an exhibition of this scope.
This project is more than an art exhibit, it is about providing an accurate and thoughtful portrait of the children Victoria and Medi are helping. It is important to me to share the lessons I learned from photographing Victoria and Medi and their programs. They taught me the real meaning of family and how you can make room in heart for others regardless of faith and circumstance.
Other Ways You Can Help
Please share this campaign with family, friends and extended social networks. Thank you!
Please attend the public opening on Friday, September 23rd which is held in conjunction with the Cultural Trust Fall Gallery Crawl.
We would also love to see you at our Community Forum: Stories from Uganda on September 29th at Gallery 937 in downtown Pittsburgh. Reception at 6 p.m. and Talk at 7 p.m. Free and open to the public.
Please check out these organizations that support children in Uganda.
ASA Social Fund for Hidden Peoples
Bright Kids Uganda – Africa
Noah’s Ark Hands on Training Center
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