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Thursday, 19 April 2012

Kate's Kause by Karen Meissner

So I'm here showing my own work today.  Not because I necessarily want to showcase my stuff, but because I want to showcase my Kause!

In the fall of 2010 Kate's Kause was founded.  Kate is my neice, who was diagnosed with Angleman Syndrome.  Through fundraising efforts, the support of the community and several grants, Kate's Kause has raised over $265 000 in a little over 16 months.  So today I'd like to put the spotlight on Kate's Kause - dedicated to Angelman Syndrome awareness and inclusive community projects.

What is Angelman Syndrome?
Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a rare (1 in 15000 births) neuro-genetic disorder characterized by a severe global developmental delay.  People with AS or "angels" have little or no verbal skills, poor gross and fine motor skills, and possible sleep and seizure disorders. However Angels do have one unique characteristic.  They have a happy demeanor, wonderful smile and contagious laughter.
What is your fundraising supporting?
In the spirit of inclusion, the current goal of Kate's Kause is to build and all-accessible playground in Elmira, Ontario.  This park will provide a place where children of all abilities can play together - typical and atypical children, toddlers learning to walk and children with balance issues or vestibular problems.  These playgrounds have extra costs involved, primarily due to the specialized turf on the ground. This turf allows children with wheelchairs and walkers and other difficulties safe access to the playground.
What was the purpose of the event last week?
The goal of the event last week was to increase awareness and to celebrate with other members of our community.  Our fundraising efforts to this point have been supported by our family, friends and contacts via social networking.  The event helped us to spread that support to other members of the community so that we can continue with our goals for the future.
Tell us about Kate?
Kate is amazing.  She will be turning 3 this summer and is showing dramatic improvement every week.  She recently learned to feed herself finger food, she stands and walks with help and is constantly progressing.  She attends pre-school regularly and is looking forward to joining her brother, cousins and friends on the playground this summer.  Here are some photos of Kate from last summer.

To find out more about Kate's Kause, please visit their website, follow them on twitter or like them on facebook.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Portraits for Nepal by Solveig Boergen

Imagine never seeing a photograph of yourself.  Never holding a print in your hand.  Never experiencing the joy that photography brings.  For many people this is their reality, but Solveig Boergen is changing that, one portrait at a time.

Where are you from?
Originally, I am from Bonn, Germany but have been in Asia for over 20 years. I spent a lot of time in China in the late 80s, then moved to Japan in 1991 where I lived until a few days after the March11 2011 earthquake.  We then moved to Thailand for a year and 10 days ago, we moved to the small city of Pokhara in Nepal.
Why did you move to Nepal?  
We will be here for one year due to my husbands research for his university in Japan.
Where did your idea for these portraits come from? 
Last year, when Bangkok was threatened by flooding we came to Nepal and spent a month here. On our first day here, I wandered around with my camera and big white lens and was asked by a mom to take her picture as she did not have a photo of her and her baby. This made me think- we were in a city near Kathmandu, where people have much more than in the countryside. If the families here do not have portraits, what about the folks in the countryside then? So, my idea was born -I wanted to use my time here to give portraits to as many families as I can.

What is your typical day like when you are shooting?
I hire a car with a driver to take me to places where no foreigners or tourists usually go. Really really countryside and often only accessible by hiking up the mountains. We go as far as the car can take us and from there we hike to reach far away villages. My driver explains in Nepali that I want to give portraits and we start going around the houses and people come to us.  The news of us gets around really quickly and sometimes people run down the hill to catch us and have their portraits taken.
Once I am back in our guesthouse, I edit the pictures and have them developed at a local professional lab.  Sometimes, I am able to have a bigger image framed to deliver it, but most of the time, I will deliver portrait prints in 5x7 or 8x10.  My goal is to be able to give each family a bigger framed portrait to display in their home, but I will need donations to be able to do that. The portraits are then delivered by either me or someone else as mail delivery is not really possible here.
What are the conditions like for the families that you photograph? Most of the families that I photograph are very, very poor, they are farmers and live in small villages, where water has to be collected and electric power is not available. Often, the men of the family are working abroad to make money and the women are alone with their children. 

What else are you doing in Nepal?
At the moment, I am concentrating on photographing our experiences here in Nepal. I want to travel as much as I can and see as much as possible of this beautiful country that is our home for one year.

 If you'd like to see more beautiful images or are interested in more information on Portraits for Nepal, please visit the facebook page

Sunday, 1 April 2012


This all began with a seed of an do I do more? How do I get more people in the photography community to do more?  How do I help showcase their "do more" projects?  Now that seed has grown into a teeny tiny plant...but we need some more nutrients to help it grow.  We need you to spread the word about what we are doing and who we are doing it for.  After all, this plant isn't really about the fruit, its about who we give the fruit to.

Are you a photographer?  We want to challenge you to contact a charity or not for profit group in your community.  Find out how you can help.  Is it an event you can take photos at? Pictures for their annual report?  Head shots of their board of directors? Or photos for their clients?  Let me know how you are doing along the way and together we can give a lot of fruit to a lot of worthy people!