Archive for the 'uganda' Category


blog action day and global handwashing day

Blog Action Day 2010

October 15 brings lots of water-related activity!

This year’s Blog Action Day theme is WATER.  Check back tomorrow to read my water-themed blog post and see more photos. (If you want to support the UN’s efforts to bring clean, safe water to millions, click the logo on the left to sign the petition)

As part of their events around Global Handwashing Day, Water Advocates requested to use many of my photos in their “Bathroom Pass” exhibit at the Academy for Educational Development (AED), Washington, DC.

Lots of great exposure! :)


reflection and spotlight

Lesley Marino

It’s been just over a year ago now since I first contacted the Ryan’s Well Foundation about volunteering to photograph the inspiring work they do in building water, sanitation and hygiene education projects in developing countries. Seeing the projects they build, engaging with the hard-working local partners, and most importantly, meeting the people whose lives have been changed by the RWF and seeing the absolute joy and hope on their faces, has truly changed my life.

I’m very thankful to be working with such a fine family of people; I couldn’t have imagined developing a better relationship with a charitable organisation, both professionally and personally, than the one I have with the Ryan’s Well Foundation. I look forward to the possibility of another trip with them in February!

I’m very honoured to be highlighted as one of the Ambassadors of the Foundation! Check out my spotlight on the Ryan’s Well Foundation website.


on the cover…

Changing Fortunes

I was approached by International Alert, an independent peacebuilding organisation, to license my photo of a woman selling produce outside the Pari Supermarket in Lira, Uganda for the cover of their latest research report entitled Changing Fortunes: Women’s Economic Opportunities in Post-War Northern Uganda.

This photo helps to illustrates the importance of supporting programs and policies for the economic development of women in the region.

Here is a summary of the report:
“The five years of relative peace in Northern Uganda has enabled the majority of former Internally Displaced Persons to return to their home areas and begin rebuilding their lives. During and after the long war in Northern Uganda, women have emerged as critical economic actors, taking advantage of economic opportunities to secure their families’ livelihood, security and advancement. This report explores gender dynamics in the peace economy, particularly focusing on women’s economic and political status, and the extent to which government and development partner recovery interventions are sensitive to these issues.”


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.


exhibit at ryan’s well foundation open house

In the Kemptville, ON area this Sunday? The Ryan’s Well Foundation staff are hosting an Open House from 2-4pm and I will be exhibiting a selection of photos. There will be a silent auction including African gifts and one of my framed prints.

Click here for more information. Hope to see you there! :)



It’s been two weeks now since I returned from my trip to Uganda with the Ryan’s Well Foundation, but it is still constantly on my mind (and not just because I have so much editing to do!).  What I experienced well-exceeded the hopes and expectations I had for the trip.  I was thrilled to visit the communities and schools where Ryan’s Well and their partners work and directly see the impact of their work on the people in these areas.

Being greeted by the students at Adekokwok Primary School outside Lira, Uganda.

Photographing the students of Onyut Primary School.

     (both photos taken by Julie Truelove)

One thing that really struck me was the reception we received when we arrived at some of the communities – they really celebrated the opportunity to thank Ryan’s Well for bringing water to their communities.  They were so grateful.  In the words of one young man from the Obutu Village, “Ryan’s Well Foundation, thank you a lot. You have already saved our lives.”

I myself am sincerely grateful to all those who donated to my project, donated directly to the Ryan’s Well Foundation, attended the fundraiser on such a cold night, donated items for the auction, and offered such encouraging and supportive words!  And a huge thank you to the Ryan’s Well Foundation board members, the Hreljac family and Julie Truelove for having allowed me to embark on this trip. 

Apwoyo Matek!

adam evans
alison porter
dave & susan clark
dean marino
katie & her mom
kellie johnson
lynda clark & karen joyce
mike patterson
ryan clark
several geosofties
suzanne day
wade vroom
…and many, many others!


in rukungiri with Ruhinda Women’s Integrated Development Foundation (RWIDF)

Early Tuesday morning we left Kampala on a seven-hour drive to the Rukungiri District in the southwest.

Formed in 2002, the Ruhinda Women’s Integrated Development Foundation (RWIDF) is a community-based women’s organisation with a mandate to enhance the skills, livelihoods and well-being of women and youth in order to mobilise communities and increase awareness of water, sanitation and hygienic standards and other health-related issues.

Through support from the Ryan’s Well Foundation, RWIDF has managed the construction of nearly 60 protected springs; we visited 12 of the 16 new springs that were built in 2009, nestled high and low in the hills of the Great Rift Valley.  Here are some of the highlights from this two-day visit:

(mouse over image for description or click to open gallery)

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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!

Bobby Singh
Michael Plastina
Dave and Susan Clark
Pat and Peter Marino
Jo-Anne McArthur
Suzanne Day
Ash Johnson
David Piekny
Tara Macey
...and others!