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Empowering Tanzanians through Photography

Dear Maji Safi friends,

It is the very first time that I am writing my thoughts for this blog. So first of all let me introduce myself. My name is Christoph Stulz. Soon I will be turning 33 years old, born in Switzerland, proud father of 2 beautiful daughters and working for the Swiss NGO Interteam. I am based in Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania on the picturesque Lake Victoria. My lovely wife is our NGO’s country coordinator so I am also called Interteam’s first lady in Tanzania, thanks to all who gave me this nickname!

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Christoph with Community Health Worker, Lilian

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Christoph with Community Heath Worker, Consol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I have a very interesting assignment with Maji Safi Group in Shirati as a photographer, videographer, graphic designer, and, last but not least, as a teacher in photography. I get to educate Maji Safi Group’s Community Health Workers, also called Water Ambassadors.

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

Teaching Community Health Workers (Lilian, Beatrice, and Winner) about photography

It has been my very first experience in the pedagogic field of teaching adults, so before my first group of Maji Safi Community Health Worker students, I was totally nervous and afraid of standing in front of a group of people, as I am a bit introverted.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers (Winner, and Lilian) how to use a camera

But the first workshops in September and October with 3 different groups of Community Health Workers were fantastic! The students were very interested and the goal we set up was reached.

Photography is a daily occurrence here in Tanzania; people get very excited about pictures of themselves. So called “selfies” are already common in the daily lives of Tanzanians. They love to strike a pose in public places when local photographers are doing their small business. And as the smart mobile phones have gotten cheaper and cheaper, today thousands of photographs make their way through What’s App and Facebook in Tanzania.

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

Photo taken by Community Health Worker

So the idea behind educating the local staff of Maji Safi Group in photography, and later, in videography, is very interesting. The result of this activity is leading to nice pictures made by locals which are totally different photographs you would get if a foreigner makes them, even if this outsider would be the very best professional photographer. Locals see this world here in a very different way from us foreigners. They will automatically get a more sensitive and closer view or access to the local world here in the villages around Shirati, and finally Maji Safi Group will get wonderful photographic material about our different programs and activities. So, all of us are looking forward to seeing more and more photos as a result. I think some of them will turn out like artwork.

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

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Photo taken by Community Health Worker

During the past 3 workshops, I first explained to each small group of Community Health Workers the different camera types and their parts and simple procedures: like how to turn the camera on and off, how to zoom the lens, how to use the flash. Some of the students haven’t had any experiences with cameras at all before. Others got the sense of it faster, as they had already worked with photography on their mobile phones. So we decided working just with the automatic mode of the cameras because the cameras know much better which settings they should choose for each situation. After the short technical introduction we changed the subject to the even more interesting part about the creativity of photography.  We then talked about the rules which can help us to increase the quality of our pictures to attract or fascinate their future viewers.

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

Christoph teaching Community Health Workers about photography

All in all, the first workshops were very successful as you can see here a selection of photographs made by our water ambassadors.

I am looking forward to my next time in Shirati when we continue practicing and take a lot more exciting pictures.

Best greetings from Tanzania,

Christoph Stulz