Cristi Hegranes is awarded the Grinnell Prize for social justice for her work with GPI!

I am so proud to announce that Cristi has received this award for her work in the creation of the Global Press Institute, and for she has done to advance the lives of women reporters and the role they play in international journalism.

Here is a video that was produced about our work in Nepal, which I think does a wonderful job capturing the inspiring work Cristi has been doing since she started GPI.

It is a complete honor to get to work with Cristi, and Maura, and the rest of the GPI family, and to be able to provide photography training so that they can begin to produce powerful images as another tool for them to tell important stories from their communities.

We have a lot in the works around this photojournalism program so stay tuned!   And congratulations again to Cristi, you truly are an inspiration to all of us.

Ni Nyampinga magazine’s 4th issue is out, with photography created by girls from my class

I’m very excited to share a copy of the 4th issue of Ni Nyampinga magazine from Rwanda! The magazine was created to inspire girls to reach their full potential and to give them a place to have a voice and to discuss issues that are important to girls in Rwanda.  The goal is to have much of the content created by the girls themselves, hence my reason for teaching the photography class there.

This issue was about mentors, and how important it is that girls have someone to help inspire them, to show them what is possible, as well as to teach them a skill set.    The girls who we trained, who are now the writers and photographers for Ni Nyampinga, have the opportunity to pass that on now and to become mentors to other girls.

click here to see the entire issue translated into English from Kinyarwanda

On the mentor page, they have a write up for the group of talented women who I had the honor of working with for the GPI journalism trainings.   Cristi Hegranes, Jessica Mendoza, Lisa Salters, Suzanne Malveaux and Rose Odengo.    Seeing it reminded me of how much fun we had and how much we all bonded with the girls, so much so that at the end of the classes it was hard when the group broke up and people had to start heading home to the US.

It was a special experience and I love seeing it captured here in the magazine and to see our students now creating the content.   In particular I was very proud of my 14-year-old student Christine and her photo essay on teenage pregnancy which she had started in class. You can see it in this issue and it was also published by GPI and went on to be syndicated by international newswires.

This story reached girls all across Rwanda, giving them important information about pregnancy and hopefully inspiring them that girls can have a voice and can participate in the media and reporting jobs in their country.

Great job to all of the reporters and photographers and the entire staff at Girl Hub Rwanda, including Phoebe, Jess, Martin and the rest of the crew!

I love the GPI Nepal Newsdesk. Thank you for an inspiring week!

What an amazing week in Nepal!  I have come away with a wonderful group of new friends and collegues and I am feeling really great about the training program and portrait project with GPI.  This was the first time I tried the condensed version of the curriculum to see if we could teach much of the basics of photography and photojournalism over two half day sessions.  Would it be enough so that I could leave them with their new camera and they could begin to practice taking pictures for their stories?    The class went really well, thanks in large part to my amazing students.

GPI Nepal newsdesk and trainers

The GPI reporters are such bright and highly motivated women, so even when there was a complicated technical explanation, they were very interested in understanding it and they kept asking questions until they got it.   Rachana, our translater did a great job helping me to bring the material to life with her energy and enthusiasm.   It is particularly rewarding to be training women, some of whom are also mothers like myself, who feel such a passion for journalism and for telling important stories about their communities.

It was again a reminder about all we take for granted in the United States, especially the opportunity to go to school and learn any skill we want.   That I have this opportunity to pass on what I have learned to those who don’t have those same resources feels like a gift.  I was touched by the level of appreciation and love they conveyed to me for giving them the photo training, and it made me feel even more honored by the opportunity.   I am really blessed.

Cristi was also training several new journalists during the week we were there, so I got to see the fresh perspectives and enthusiasm that they are bringing to the Nepal staff.  I sat in on a pitch meeting while they shared all of their many ideas for upcoming stories, ranging from domestic violence to environment issues and health concerns for women in Nepal.

Tara, the Nepal editor, and Cristi listening to the reporters pitching their stories

Kathmandu was a great experience, but as someone who loves the mountains, it was tough to see them off in the distance and not be able to go explore the country.   Everyone kept telling me I should get out and see the rest of Nepal, but work kept us in the city this time and so I will just have to plan to go back one day to see my new friends and for some adventure in the country.    Rachana invited me to come back and go white water rafting on a river which tour books call “suicidal”, but which she promises isn’t really that dangerous because as she says, she does it all the time.   We’ll see how brave I’m feeling.  I already survived a ride on the back of her moto, dogding traffic in Kathmandu, so maybe that will be the next adventure.

mountains of Nepal from Kathmandu

Now that we have officially kicked off this project I look forward to meeting more of the talented GPI reporters from around the world and also the professional female photographers who have agreed to help me in bringing this training to all 25 GPI newsdesks.   That potential of mentorship and friendship among women storytellers is one of the things that excites me most!   I can’t wait.