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Monday, December 3, 2012

Cognito Studios Orphan Project - Getting to Know You

I am so pleased to be able to share with you a report of the first phase of our ongoing orphan project which though a long time in the 'oven', finally kicked off on the first of December.

Our orphan project is actually a 5 year project during which we work with an one orphanage each year, carrying out monthly 'sub-projects' ranging from photography tutorials, Christmas and birthday parties, picnics, outings to the cinemas, building and renovations as well as education scholarships.

This months activity is themed 'Getting to Know You'. Our focus was to get to know the children in the orphanage including their caregivers. Our specific mission however was to introduce the children to the world of photography and use photography to make a positive difference in their lives.

The dusty road to the orphanage

We started out on by paying a familiarization visit to the orphanage. Divine Kids Care Home is headed by a wonderful man called Pastor Bawa and his beautiful wife. That day we met 'mummy' and we had a nice time getting to know her and details of the orphanage. We also told her of our mission.

It was agreed that we would come on the first of December. We made a call to Pastor Bawa to confirm and seal the date.

Our visit to the orphanage on Saturday December 1st was a special one that left an indelible mark on our hearts and minds.

We met for the first time since contacting the orphanage, Pastor Bawa, a small man but obviously one with a very large heart. It touched us all that a couple would live their lives in such a way, opening the doors of their home to all kinds of children, not just orphans but also children whose parents were too poor or sick to cater for them.

As you will see from the pictures, love doesn't need much capital to be expressed. All it needs is a willing heart. From the moment we stepped in to the orphanage, we started sweating like pigs in an oven. To think that for months now the home has not enjoyed electricity because of a faulty transformer in the area, it would be hard to further imagine the discomfort they all go through from the oppressive heat.

Pastor in charge, head of the home, a wonderful man with a large heart

Pastor Bawa called out those children who were at home (several of them had gone out to learn some trade and would not be back till evening). We were excited to meet them; they were a little nervous though so we set about trying to break the ice, asking their names and teasing them a little.
Trying to break the ice after we arrived

We then told Pastor Bawa about our little photography offering:

"We want to do something special for the children” I said. “I grew up with both parents. And every now and then my parents would take us all to a photo studio and we would take beautiful portraits. So now I can point back and show pictures of when I was five, or seven. I figured that orphans don’t have this privilege  It is most likely the last thing on the minds of caregivers of orphans or helpers, to take beautiful professional photos.

"So we decided we would try to make that happen for all of the children in this home. We want to take individual and group photos of your children and print them out for you. So each child would have a nice picture of himself. And we would also enlarge a group photo so you can hang on your wall.”

Pastor Bawa and all present were very excited about this and gave us their permission. So while they kids went to get dressed, our team set up the studio lighting equipment and put things in place.

As the photoshoot progressed we shared drinks and snacks. And we laughed and teased and made playful fun of one another. First we took portraits of all the boys in the house including Pastor Bawa. Then it was the turn of the ladies. Finally we took group shots. We also had as many who were interested, write down something they were grateful to God for in 2012. When they had done this we took photos of the volunteers holding up their sheets of paper.

All in all it was a lovely experience. One thing was clear though: there is so much we can do to improve the living conditions and the lives of the children in that home. Though we were able to give clothes, shoes, bags, food stuff, water, toys, combs and many other things in that visit, they still need some basic things like mattresses, more clothes, a generator, fridge, fans, tables, books and much more. the walls need painting and the whole place needs a facelift.

We invite you to partner with us on this project by donating these items or the cash equivalent and participating in any one of our visits.

We will keep you updated on how you can be part of it as we go along.

Ladies off to the girls room for some make up

A sincere warning

How old is your baby?

We want to give the girls room a serious facelift...any one interested? Let us know

Pastor took time to tell us a little more about how the orphanage started

Daddy gets a shot

Everyone had a lot of fun

Took some time to teach the kids a few things about photography...

Not bad for a first attempt eh?

Ok lets try again...

Getting to know you...question and answer time

Say cheese dear


Group shot for the ladies

A round of cold drinks for was so hot in there

The compound...needs a wall around it. So we plan to do something about it. Cement...lots of it

Volunteer teachers come around to teach them a variety of subjects...but what would be better is they get enrolled into school. So there is a lot of room for scholarships, aid and all other types of educational assistance

The school also needs a facelift. Major!

Isn't she lovely?

Just remember, the whole point of this is that there are so many young children all around us that need the change that you are equipped to provide. Use your gifts, talents, wealth and influence to put a smile on the face of the underprivileged  You would be shocked to know how much it is to put one of them through school. (very affordable!!!)

Anyway enough said for now. Thanks for dropping by. Your comments are welcome.

Here are just a few photos from the special portrait sessions: