from Hellen Griberg
Country of origin: Norway
Age group: 23-25
Reason for going abroad: tackle women and development issues
Travel destination: Uganda
I came to Uganda with an open-mind and a goal to understand more about women’s issues and the development sector. With help of the Kilroy Foundation grant, I was able to embark on a nine-month journey to capture stories of resilient women who have faced challenges and hardship in their lives through my photography project called ‘’Amaanyi’’, which means strength in Luganda. I have met women who have survived sexual abuse, women who have thrived and struggled as single mothers and women who have overcome traumatic experiences due to war and poverty. Each story I recorded has been heart-wrenching and tough to listen to, but it allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the struggles young girls and women in Uganda are facing everyday.
When I was travelling in Western Uganda, I had the opportunity to meet with a young Rwandese woman named Favourite, who fled the 1994 genocide with her family in order to start a new life in Uganda. Living in a refugee settlement in Hoima, she had to overcome many barriers, one of them being remaining in school. When her parents could no longer afford to finance her education after primary 7, she had to look for other means to fund her education. A local NGO called COBURAWS, who assists refugee girls in continuing their education after primary school, offered her a place at their boarding school. She managed to complete her secondary education and qualify for a scholarship to study International Relations at a University in Nairobi, Kenya. Her perseverance and love for education helped her succeed and she became the first person in her family to complete higher education. She is currently working for COBURAWS at the refugee settlement while looking for further funding to start her postgraduate studies.
Working on my photography project has been immensely rewarding and interesting. It has exposed me to difficult thematic issues such as poverty, violence and stigmatization. It has shown me that women, despite their consistent challenges, are resilient, adaptable human beings that are fighting for their livelihood and family. I am very grateful for the support I have received from Kilroy Foundation to realize my dream of collecting stories of women in Africa. I look forward to sharing the stories of the eight women I have interviewed and hope it will resonate with many people. The photography series ‘’Amaanyi’’ is scheduled to launch August 2018 on social media, followed by an exhibition in Kampala, Uganda.