Images of the Human Spirit
The story behind Uganda's Children
It had been a long journey both literally and spiritually. In August 2007, I had the privilege of traveling to Uganda with my brother, a documentary film crew and a group of experts on special needs.
A handful of the team had been to Soroti before. My brother had worked on a project re-building a school for 250 orphans and also a community church / meeting hall and he was returning to visit old friends. The group of experts were going to be setting up programs for children that until now had received little or no help with education because of their specific physical and mental disabilities. Few of us were prepared for the emotional journey that was about to begin. It was to be a life altering experience for us all.
To get to our destination, it took us three days of travel. For me, that meant three planes and a fourteen-hour bus journey (twenty people and luggage in a bus with a capacity for fifteen) over dangerously pot-holed, un-lit and unfinished red clay roads.
Frequent rest stops along the way at small roadside villages introduced us to our first taste of true Ugandan hospitality. We were always welcomed with an open smile, a firm handshake and innocent curiosity.
Few of us were prepared for the poverty that we encountered. Despite tragic stories, lack of material things and many times even good health or mobility, the beautiful people that we met were always so giving and open. Ugandans are very tactile; the smallest of children taking responsibility to look after their younger siblings with genuine concern and responsibility.
The love that they share is so inspiring.
Whilst filming and photographing the hospital I was overwhelmed by the lack of hygiene, the overcrowded wards, the stench of urine soaked mattresses, the understaffing and the desperate need for medical supplies. Simple medications that could save a life were just not available. It was heartbreaking. It was here that we realized how in need of help the community of Soroti is and how, unfortunately, this is just a small drop in the ocean, with communities throughout the country that are even in worse shape - especially in the Northern parts of Uganda.
I am not a journalist. It is difficult for me to articulate with words what I experienced, so with the photographs that I am exhibiting, I hope you will not only get a sense of the need for change, but also a glimpse of the love, hope and acceptance that you will see in the eyes of the many beautiful Ugandan people that I had the privilege of photographing.
All profits from exhibition sales and your generous donations go directly to helping buy wheelchairs, bikes, medical supplies, to help pay for teachers salaries and also towards future building projects.
Thank you for reading this and sharing an experience with me. This has been the most remarkable passage in my life.
Double click on any image to view a slideshow
Uganda’s Children. Images of the Human Spirit
by Peter Eastwood
Exhibition of original photography
December 12-17, 2008
Eastwood Onley Gallery, 2075 Alberta Street
For more information, call 604.889 2504
In Uganda’s Children, Vancouver-based portrait photographer Peter Eastwood documents the daily struggles of the world’s most vulnerable children, as well as the startling endurance of the human spirit in some of the most horrific scenarios imaginable.
In August 2007, Eastwood traveled to Soroti, Uganda with volunteers from a United Kingdom-based charity to document the determined efforts of special needs educators, the building of a school for 250 orphans and also a community hall that seats over 600 people.
Eastwood also visited the local government hospital; an area that has yet to be addressed by the charity. “While photographing the hospital, I was overwhelmed by the lack of hygiene, the overcrowded wards, the stench of urine-soaked mattresses, the understaffing and the desperate need for medical supplies,” said Eastwood. “Simple medications that could save a life were just not available. It was heartbreaking.”
In Uganda’s Children, which runs December 12-17 at Vancouver’s Eastwood Onley Gallery (2075 Alberta Street), Eastwood exhibits photography of the poverty, despair, and singular moments of joy he encountered in Uganda on a daily basis. “I am not a journalist, and it is difficult for me to articulate what I experienced,” said Eastwood. “But through the photographs, I hope I’ve captured the need for change, and provided a glimpse of the love, hope and acceptance that are constant in the eyes of the many beautiful Ugandan people I had the privilege of photographing.”
Boxed card sets featuring images from Uganda’s Children will be sold for $50 each during the exhibition, with profits benefiting education and health programs in Northern Uganda. Exhibited prints and postcards are also for sale.
Peter Eastwood is a highly sought-after photographer and gallery owner based in Vancouver (www.petereastwood.ca).
MEDIA: For more information about Uganda’s Children, high-resolution photographs, more information, or interviews with Peter Eastwood, please call 604 889 2504.