Archive for the 'stories' Category


photophilanthropy essay

Bringing Water and Hope to Northern Uganda

PhotoPhilanthropy is a fantastic organisation that “promotes and connects photographers with non-profit organizations around the world to tell the stories that drive action for social change”.

I submitted a photo essay to their PhotoPhilanthropy Activist Award entitled Bringing Water and Hope to Northern Uganda. They even used one of my photos in a blog post.

Please check out my essay, along with the dozens of other beautiful essays on their site.











WASH: keeping girls in the classroom

I was asked by the Ryan’s Well Foundation to contribute a blog post in honour of Blog Action Day. With this year’s theme being WATER, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about the experiences I had while photographing their water projects in Uganda. The following is what I contributed to the Ryan’s Well Foundation Blog – mine is one of many they will be posting throughout the day. Please check them out!


I loved school when I was a kid. I had wonderful, inspiring teachers, I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, and most of all…I loved learning.

When I travelled to Uganda with the Ryan’s Well Foundation this past February, we visited a number of schools where water, sanitation and hygiene education (WASH) programs had been recently implemented. I could clearly see the impact these programs have on the children in these schools. Their smiling, eager faces told me they too were happy to be in school and enjoyed learning. I was also happy to see so many girls in the classroom.

Traditionally, it is often the responsibility of girls to collect water. This time-intensive task often takes them out of the classroom for up to several hours to reach far-away water sources. By providing schools with clean water sources, less time is spent collecting water and more time is spent in the classroom.

It isn’t only about access to clean water, though; providing latrines and handwashing stations and promoting hygiene education in the classroom are also important aspects of keeping girls in schools. Access to these kinds of resources increases their safety, provides dignity and helps prevent disease; participating on school water committees empowers girls towards positive change.

I never had to think about water and sanitation issues when I went to school; I was able to have fun and focus on learning. With continued school-based WASH projects supported by the Ryan’s Well Foundation, more and more girls will spend fewer valuable classroom hours collecting water and won’t be anxious or embarrassed about hygiene issues. They too can love attending school and eagerly focus on learning, just like I did.


detecting UXOs

Unexploded ordnances (UXOs) are explosive weapons that did not detonate when they were deployed. There are billions of kilos of UXOs worldwide that still pose a risk of potentially detonating, especially since many become unstable over time.

Decades after these munitions were used, CFB Borden has contracted the company Notra to remediate their military training ranges. Using electromagnetic and magnetic detectors, Notra collects geophysical data to map the locations of anomalies indicative of potential UXOs.  Anomalous targets identified as UXOs are then carefully dug up and disposed of.

The following photos are from a day spent with Notra staff documenting their data collection process in their proving ground (equipment calibration area), which means the munitions that were detected were not live; at least not in this area.

Detecting UXOs


about aya

With today being World Refugee Day, I thought I would share the story of my friend Aya.  In early May, I participated in the Magnum Workshop Toronto at this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival.  I was frustrated with the progress of the particular story I was working on for my week-long project and decided to take a walk.  I ended up on Gerrard Street East where I came upon a thrift store.  Not one to miss out on a unique find, I couldn’t pass by without going in.  I’m glad I did because my unique find…was Aya.

Aya is from Gulu, a city in northern Uganda, about 100 km northwest from Lira, where I was in February.  For about 20 years, northern Uganda was plagued by the ongoing insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.  This army, primarily made up of child soldiers, raided many villages in the north, often murdering or mutilating villagers, enslaving women, and kidnapping children to add to their troops.  Very few people in this area have been untouched by the rebel activity.  Aya doesn’t know what happened to her husband – he disappeared.

In 1995, Aya fled the conflict in Gulu, leaving her young daughter, Joanne, with relatives in Kampala, and claimed refugee status upon arriving in Toronto.  Having nothing but a woven bag with a few articles of clothing, she stayed at Sojourn House for two months where they helped her through the settlement process of getting all her necessary documentation, introduced her to a community of other refugees, and found her a rooming house in Kensington Market.  She found where to buy familiar foods, adjusted to the cold winters and with the help of two new friends providing her with credit, she bought some furniture and established herself in her new city.

Over the next several years, Aya worked hard and saved up enough money to buy herself a house; 4 years ago she sponsored her daughter to come to Canada.

After getting laid off from her job at Goodwill, Aya took courses through the Ontario Self-Employment Benefits Program which helped her open up her own business.  The Kiden Thrifty Store has been open for about 9 months now.  In the few days I spent with Aya in her shop, there was a steady flow of people coming and going, many of whom were immigrants or refugees themselves – some came for household items or an article of clothing, others for tea and a chat. 

In the end, my time with Aya in her shop and in her home having breakfast of tea and millet porridge became the story I wanted to tell in my week-long photo project. She was eager to hear my stories and see my photos from Uganda and I felt very grateful that she shared some of her stories with me.  I hope she is willing to share more.


past news stories

October 2009
“NOVELS” website now up and running:

February 2009
“NOVELS” photo featured on Panic Manual

October 2008
Jerry & June’s wedding featured on

May 2008
The New York Observer
Farm Sanctuary Gala 2008

March 2008
Canadian Living Magazine: “Pet Fostering

November 2007
Canadian Living Magazine: “Cook of the Year

October 2007
Sanctuary: Farm Sanctuary’s Compassionate Quarterly: “Farm Sanctuary Gala 2007

August 2007
Curry vs. Mole: A charismatic look at the people of India and Mexico Photo exhibit by Lesley Marino & Wade Vroom

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Crowdfunding Supporters

Thank you so much to the following supporters! I really appreciate your contributions to help me get to Uganda and Kenya with the Ryan's Well Foundation!

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