Asha Nepal Photography Project 2014

This was the second year that we ran our photography project in conjunction with the Asha Nepal ,a human rights organisation working towards the social and economic empowerment of women and children who have been affected by sex trafficking in Nepal . It was even bigger this year with a group of 13 girls in the beginners group and 9 returning from last year for the advanced class. I was lucky enough to have some fantastic Aussie helpers assist me with the project – my cousin Helen, Fiona (our rock), her daughter Abbey and the lovely Maddie.

It was so good to see the girls from last year I was surprised at how much they’d blossomed in a year. I’m so blown away by the girls’ strength, courage and resilience after going through such horrific circumstances – they’re truly inspirational and humbling. If I’m totally honest I’m sure we get much more out of the project than the girls do. It’s such a credit to the staff at Asha Nepal to see all the hard work and kindness that they give to these girls paying off.

Our new group as expected we’re fairly shy at first but it didn’t take them long to embrace the course and start taking photos. One of my favourite parts of the course is when we hand over the Camera’s. Thanks to Canon Australia we were able to give the girls a camera each and my fantastic mother-in-law Peg made them all Camera Bags. The looks on their faces when they were handed their own cameras were priceless.

Most of the mornings were spent in the class room learning about photography and composition – we’d then head outside so the girls could practice their new knowledge. On one of the days we did a jewellery photography workshop and on day 5 we took the groups to The Garden of Dreams – a beautiful oasis in the middle of crazy Kathmandu – most of the girls had never been there before (apart from the ones we took last year). It’s such a beautiful, calming place. Here the girls took portraits of each other (and they all loved posing for the camera!) and then each read out a piece I’d asked them to write about their hopes and dreams for the future. They are all so passionate about what they want to do with their lives from becoming beauty queens to teachers, doctors, designers and social workers. It was inspiring to see how many of them wanted to work in jobs that helped others – just as they had been helped. The day was finished off with a beautiful lunch at the gardens.

In conjunction with the photography course we also ran a jewellery workshop, teaching the girls to make polymer clay jewellery with the intent of giving them a skill that they can use to generate an income. Catherine, Jane, Rachel & Sarah did fantastic job teaching the girls how to make the beads – it was quite amazing how far they came in such a short time.

Our final day culminated in our party/presentation which we combined with the jewellery girls. We handed out certificates and albums to each of the girls and were entertained with their singing and dancing. Our attempt at singing Waltzing Matilda was no match for their beautiful sweet tones. It was such a lovely morning but as all things go it had to come to an end. There were lots of smiles, hugs and a few tears as we said our goodbyes for another year.

I would just like to finish by saying a few thank you’s – to Peter Bashford, Smriti and the Staff at Asha Nepal for having us back again, to everyone in the Aussie contingent, Sarah, Catherine, Helen, Rachel, Maddie, Jane, Abbey, Ben, Greg and finally the fabulous Fiona (our go to fix it gal). To everyone who was so kind and generous to donate either money or supplies and finally to Canon Australia who have been so supportive.

If you would like some more information about Asha Nepal or would like to make a donation please click HERE

Here are a few images from the workshops (for obvious reasons we can’t show the girls’ faces). Most of the images are taken by the girls – enjoy!