A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Medellin… a picture is worth a thousand words

There is one thing that I know for sure… kids living in orphanages LOVE cameras: having their picture taken, taking pictures, and looking at themselves in pictures. I mean absolutely love. I mean you could entertain a handful of kids an entire day with nothing more than a digital camera. The battery would die before they would tire.  What I am not as sure about, is why they love it so much. Is it the novelty? The power of creating an image? The coolness factor? The ability to see themselves? (there aren’t a lot of mirrors in many of these places) Do they just like to touch, see, play, do? Maybe all these… maybe none.  In every country, in every orphanage I have worked in the crowds are the same when you take out the camera.  So, I have several ideas about projects I would like to someday conquer with the kids and cameras, but for the time and resource requirements, we started small: picture frames.

It’s a little thing really.  Something we middle class Americans take for granted.  The luxury of being surrounded in your home by your family’s smiling faces. We plaster our homes with picture frames. I know for me, in all my moves, on of the things that really makes me feel at home is when I hang up all my pictures of my friends and family. In the majority of institutions I have visited, the walls are a sad desolate extension of the rest of the building.  Sometimes they are painted a fun color, but more often than not they are the usual off-white, brick, blank, emotionless wall.  This place needed some pictures!!!

So I worked with the kids in small groups and they each made their picture frame.  This was fun… but the best part was to follow. After they finished painting, they each had 2 pictures with my camera. They could do whatever they wanted with these pictures: take it of someone/something, take a “selfy”, I would take pictures of them alone, with whoever they wanted, in whatever pose the wanted.  These were THEIR pictures and THEIR frames and they were able to make a choice of whatever they wanted to do (a rare opportunity when living amongst a group of kids this large) We had some serious creativity amongst the crowd!! And then of their two pictures, they chose one that I printed to put in the picture frame they made. Here are some pictures of the journey:

Frame painting

Hard at work

we glued tissue paper on the frames with the littlest ones

the finished products

Proud owner of a picture frame #1

Proud owner #2
And there are over 40 other proud owners who now have a little something to look at on their beds and walls. Just a little piece of home.