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FOTOkids: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty Through Self-Expression

July 27, 2010

This morning, my yoga class was in an art gallery in the Meson Panza Verde, a luxury boutique hotel on the “quiet side of the fashionable 5th Avenue.”

(Which is worth a post itself and, while we’re on the subject, can we just talk about how much I love that Antigua’s streets revolve around Parque Central, in a numbered grid, organized by cardinal direction? Every time I get homesick, I just ask for directions. Course, then I say “What’s the cross street?” or “Is it on the Southeast or Northwest corner?” most people give me a blank stare and say “Just go thatway. Around the corner.” Evidently doesn’t translate.)

Anyway.

So this art gallery/ yoga studio has an exhibit called Nuevas Visiones, a stunning collection of photographs of Guatemalan life, taken by kids participating in FOTOkids.  Ex-Reuters photographer Nancy McGirr founded the NGO in 1991, showing 6 kids who lived by a garbage dump in Guatemala City how to use a camera. The goal was to break the cycle of poverty through education and self-expression, and today, they’ve expanded both geographically and topically, teaching ninos from the poorest barrios in Guatemala photography, graphic design, video and creative writing.

According to UNICEF and this brochure I picked up at the art gallery, 64% of  Guatemalan kids drop out of the first grade, and only 36% make it through 6th. And just last night, one of the guys at my house–an Aussie who came here for vacation and accidentally never left–told  me that the 6th and 7th graders he teaches at a private colegio generally have neither the motivation nor ambition to turn in all their work. His school doesn’t even have a library. And again, it’s private.

I haven’t done much digging into the matter (saving that for paid articles, sorry), but it’s still worth checking out the pictures. They’re stunning, if not regardless, then because of the cause.  Below are some of my favorites, but do check out their sitio de web. Prints are about $150 USD, or you can sponsor a year of one child’s educational expenses for $300 USD.

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