"The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera." - Dorothea Lange

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

visitation day report

CTT 2015 Term 1 Visitation Day Report
Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School
Akampulira Shine - Senior 1


Shine’s Classes in Senior 1: English, Mathematics, History, Geography, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Commerce, Computer, Christian Religious Education, Islamic Religious Education, Political Education, Luganda, Agriculture, Literature in English, and Fine Art.
Shine’s Best Performed Classes in Beginning of Term 1 Examinations:  History, Luganda, and Commerce
Term 1 News from Kajjansi Progressive SSS:  Kajjansi Progressive enjoyed academic success in last year’s National Examinations and had a grand celebration for students, staff and parents.  In addition to normal classes which are held Monday-Saturday from 7:30a-5:00p, the school has begun competing with neighboring schools in Netball (a female sport similar to basketball) and Football (a male sport also known as soccer). 
Shine’s Visitation Day gift from YOU:  1 kilogram sugar, 1 bar washing soap, 2 rolls toilet paper, 3 blue ink pens, and 5,000 UGX spending money for canteen.
School Name and Location:  Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School is located in Kajjansi only about 1/3 kilometer walking distance from St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood. 
Kajjansi Progressive SSS’s Motto:  "Never Give Up"
Information about Kajjansi Progressive SSS:  Kajjansi Progressive is a boarding school for 1,500 students in Senior 1- Senior 6.  This school has been providing quality Secondary education since 1992 with a highly qualified staff of teachers in both Arts and Sciences.  In 2014, Kajjansi Progressive SSS was ranked #75 out of 1050 Secondary schools in all of Uganda in Ordinary Level (or O-Level) for Senior 1-Senior 4 studies.  In addition, in 2014 it was ranked #47 out of 200 Advanced Level (or A-Level) schools for Senior 5- Senior 6 in the entire Wakiso district.

[This is just one of the many reports now being sent to CTT sponsors of individual students. Melissa makes a point of visiting each and every secondary student. It's a special day for a boarder who doesn't see familiar faces from "home" very often. Mel is greeted with huge hugs, often some jumping up and down and frequently a few screams of delight. Our students - especially those in Senior 1 - are so proud of their new uniform and school shoes and get such joy showing Melissa their classrooms and dormitories, introducing her to teachers and new friends and enjoying a soda and a long chat.]

Friday, March 20, 2015

baldwin lee

I was unfamiliar with Baldwin Lee until recently, when I came across this article by Mark Steinmetz. The photographs from his project, "Black Americans in the South," are really lovely. Check out his website to see more work.

"I suspect that few are aware of the accomplishments of Baldwin Lee, who, photographing in the South 30 years ago, produced a body of work that is among the most remarkable in American photography of the past half century.

In the early 1970s, Lee studied photography with Minor White at MIT and then with Walker Evans at Yale. He became Evans’ printer, and afterwards began to teach photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and then at Yale. Lee took a cross-country photo trip with former classmate Philip Lorca-DiCorcia in 1981 and a year later joined the faculty of the University of Tennessee. He retired last year.

When Baldwin Lee first arrived in the south, he did not know what he would photograph. He took a 2,000-mile exploratory trip on the back roads photographing anything that interested him with his 4 x 5-inch view camera. 'My subjects included landscapes, cityscapes, close-up details, night studies, interiors of commercial and residential buildings, and portraits of peoplewhite and black, old and young, rural and urban, well-to-do and poor,' he writes in a manuscript that has yet to find a publisher. 'Upon proofing the film, I saw that the suspicion I had had while making the photographs was confirmedwhat interested me most were the pictures of black Americans who lived in poverty.' Lee was surprised by the strong empathy he found he had for the subject.

An American of Chinese descent, Lee must have cut an odd figure carrying his bulky equipment in these communities. He begins his manuscript, In Consideration of Photographing in the South, with a chapter entitled The Bed You Lie In: 'My profession was announced as I walked down the road by the tripod-mounted, large-format wooden camera perched on my left shoulder,' he writes. 'I had long since discovered that walking is by far the most useful way to increase your chances of encountering interesting people and situations. I was making my way along a street in a dilapidated commercial area on the outskirts of downtown Augusta, Georgia, when a beater van slowed as it passed. A slowing vehicle usually means one of two things. Either it is a random innocent event, or you are being checked out, perhaps out of curiosity. It is not every day that people see an Asian man in the black section of town carrying a big camera.'

A couple inside the van invites Lee in: 'A short time later we arrived at a funeral home. The man and his wife had lost their baby a few days before.' Baldwin continues his story and discusses the photograph he was asked to take of their baby and then launches into a discussion on post-mortem photography, crib safety, and James Van Der Zee. His manuscript is part memoir, part treatise on photography. He slips in and out of topics, many of which shed light on the photographer’s predicament. Delightfully, he veers from Eudora Welty to Las Vegas to his father’s bath schedule (his large family in Manhattan’s Chinatown had to contend with one bathroom) to the unequal distribution of wealth to Aesop’s Fables. He offers insights to Walker Evans and gives a rich reading of Evans’ photographs.

Baldwin Lee’s inspired work from the mid-1980s deserves to be known by a larger audience. It is the result of a keen talent and intellect working with discipline, passion, concern, and risk. The neglected world he describes has perhaps vanished by now, but it is my hope that his unique images along with his words will find a publisher and enrich our understanding of what photographers do."

- Mark Steinmetz (for Lightbox)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

captain freddie

My friend Fred, a member of the Change the Truth board of directors, just returned from his third trip to Uganda to visit the children at St. Mary Kevin. Fred is a psychologist in his real life in Portland, Oregon, but when he goes to SMK, he is Captain Freddie, a tireless advocate for joyful living, who is all about playing and having fun.

The children love him. They follow him around, happy to simply be in his presence soaking up his cheerful demeanor. Fred is known for encouraging the children to pick up trash and keep the grounds clean. They trail after him, trash barrels in hand, singing and skipping, delighted by their leader's love and attention.

The kids started calling him Captain Freddie back in 2008 when he first traveled to SMK. It's the perfect moniker for this pied piper.

Fred spent a lot of time during his past two visits talking to the children about life in America and encouraging them to ask questions about that. He also talked about cherishing and treasuring what they have, including their pleasant memories of lost family members and friends.

But I think the biggest and best gift Fred gives the children is his time, his attention, his smile, his bear hugs, his laugh and his open heart.

When I asked him to sum up this most recent trip, he simply said:

"Being with and helping the children at SMK helps me become a better man."

We are so lucky that he has chosen to spread his love amongst our beloved children in Uganda. While he's busy becoming a better man, kids like Queen, Sarah, Nelson, Eddie, Mary and Moureen are becoming better adjusted, more grounded, more loved, more confident and increasingly hopeful.

Not a bad deal, captain.

Fred gets his hair braided

The pied piper in action.

Monday, March 16, 2015

introducing: some grandmas

Here are a few things I've figured out how to do with one (non-dominant) hand:

peel and slice a banana
tie my shoes
snap and unsnap my bra
use a pair of tweezers
take off and on a sling
put on a tank top
write thank-you notes

But the best thing has been (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!!!!):

figuring out that I really want to get my grandma book off my desk and out into the world.

Being cooped up (not able to drive), sitting still more than moving around, thinking and listening more than talking, having lots of awake hours during the night, being in a constant state of pain and having to truly be in each moment as I awkwardly navigate my way through the day has made me realize something really important:

if it matters, just friggin' do it.


just in time for Mother's Day, my photo book about grandmothers, Some Grandmas, will hit the shelves of my self-publishing world.

I'll give more details soon… just wanted to whet your appetite and let you know that you need look no further for that perfect gift for your favorite grandmother (or grandchild) this May.

I haven't figured out one handed gift wrapping yet, but by then I'll be out of my sling :)

PS - if you'd like to receive notifications about the book's release and are not already on my mailing list, please shoot me an email at gbfeinstein[at]gmail[dot]com.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


I've been receiving some gorgeous flower arrangements as I convalesce. They make the days look and smell prettier. This picture of my grandchildren, with the flowers they picked on a recent stroll through their neighborhood, has brightened my day big time.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

chicken soup on an elephant placemat

There truly are medicinal benefits floating around in a good bowl of "Jewish penicillin," and I am fiercely slurping down the stuff. Eddie tries to make each meal fun; today's lunch was served on the placemat I loved when I was a kid (thank you, Mom, for saving everything).

Days three and four post-op have been exciting, and that means tiring. I had my first of many sessions of physical therapy yesterday. Today's schedule included my first shower. Every task seems to take ten or twenty, maybe 50 times longer when one arm isn't working so well.

I'm still reaping the benefits of pain meds, so I continue to avoid the operation of heavy machinery.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

just taking pictures of my life

My life yesterday was in the hands of a very capable shoulder specialist (CCS), a great anesthesiologist and a fabulous team of nurses.

The repair to my rotator cuff is now behind me. I came home with one heavy and completely numb shoulder, arm and hand (from a nerve block). That block started to wear off this morning, and I began taking pain meds. Everything is just a little bit glazed over now.

True to form, I took a few pictures while waiting to be rolled into the operating room.

Monday, March 02, 2015

see you on the flip side

My left hand is all warmed up. I've got my rented recliner set up in a corner of the bedroom, and I've got a little table next to it stacked with books and art supplies. The surgery will be quick. I'll be home by mid afternoon, most surely in a haze. But I'm hoping to draw or take pictures as soon as possible. My friend Leslie loaned me her nifty ice machine. It will send ice cold water circulating on a constant basis through a big cuff that attaches to my shoulder. Got some chicken noodle soup in the frig. And my devoted husband and friends willingly on call. All set. Bring it on, doc.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Friday, February 27, 2015




Rosette on the far right, 2011

The two of us being competitive, 2012


With Team member Leah, 2013

Graduation day, with Melissa, 2015

I told Rosette one night, after we had just binge-watched a ton of Glee episodes at Melissa's, that she was like a daughter to me. I meant it. She's always had a very special place in my heart.

The first time I met her was in 2006. I watched her sing and dance one afternoon and was blown away by her electric stage presence, even in a dingy, dark, damp metal container (the library). She had a smile that lit up the entire place. I learned that her mother had died of AIDS in 2006, and her father had died in the civil war of Northern Uganda when she was much younger.

During my next visit in 2007, she quickly made her way toward me with a crumpled note in her hand. She pressed it into mine, asked me to read it and then stepped politely to the side to wait for my response. It was a letter asking if she could be sponsored by Change the Truth, please. Please.

Well, one year has rolled into the next, and I have watched this lovely girl mature into a gorgeous woman. She's had emotional ups and downs. She's been confused about what to make of her opportunities. She's been moody and grumpy. We've had long talks about the typical stuff adolescents grapple with. She's been disagreeable and argumentative. She's also been as sweet as molasses. She's been sad, but then she somehow manages to turn on a light in her eyes and in her smile, and it knocks you out. Her dancing and singing have gotten rave reviews from CTT team members (you could be on Broadway, Rosette! Really!). She's the one who has always taught everyone how to make the banana fiber dolls. She's the one who volunteers to help clean a room or assist a younger child or wipe the tears from a crying TEAM MEMBER. There is a huge heart housed in that petite frame of hers. She's fierce, feisty, curious and determined, and she won't hesitate to say: don't get in my way, please. She's competitive. She's sensitive. She expects a lot from herself - and from those around her. She makes friends at the drop of a hat. She likes to laugh.

Today Rosette graduated from vocational school. Her certificate is in Travel and Tourism. At the beginning, Rosette wanted to be a professional dancer/performer, but once the educational ball got rolling, she was encouraged to come up with some other, more practical ideas. She tapped into her love of meeting people from different countries and cultures and her desire to travel the world, and that's when she decided to pursue travel and tourism. She fancies herself as a flight attendant or tour guide. We believe she'd be great at either. Her outgoing, sparkling personality and her grit and determination will help her land just where she wants to be.

Congratulations on your graduation, Rosette. We are so proud of you.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Sadly, I have had to postpone my upcoming travel to Uganda. I have to have shoulder surgery instead. All the wear and tear of lifting and using my camera equipment combined with a couple of falls and the natural aging process has left me with a torn rotator cuff. Ugh.

This morning I tried to do everything with my left arm and hand. Not so easy. I found that I did things verrrry slowly and with much concentration. The stick-out-my-tongue kind of concentration.

I did a drawing and then I photographed it.  The process made me extremely mindful of each step involved. It also made me realize this is going to be a long few months.

I'm determined to do something creative during my recovery. I think I'll go nuts otherwise. Maybe I'll draw, maybe I'll do a series of photos with my iPhone. My BFF said I'll probably write a book. Another said I'll probably become ambidextrous and end up being able to shoot with one hand while drawing with the other. Ha! I doubt either of those things will happen, but my friends do know me; I'm not going to let this keep me down.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


These fraternal twin sisters are two of my favorite subjects at Operation Breakthrough. I had the pleasure of taking a few pictures of them today while working on the annual video. To me, they seem like very old souls. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

art and alzheimer's

In a last minute attempt to be fully prepared for the Oscars, Eddie and I saw "Still Alice" on Saturday. Like most movie lovers, we try to see as many of the nominated movies as possible.

The two of us are often the last ones in the theatre - even after the credits have rolled by - and in this case, we sat for quite a while.  (It was not only because we were emotionally drained, but we wanted to see who was responsible for the great rendition of Lyle Lovett's lovely "If I Had a Boat.") 

Julianne Moore deserved the Oscar win. She did an amazing job channeling Alice's heart-wrenching journey though early onset familial Alzheimer's.  What really struck me, though, were the care-givers (her family) grappling with the all too common situations into which so many of us are now thrust with our aging parents. Those delicate dances were especially fascinating and powerful. In a way, I think the film was a tribute to caregiving heroes, those who work selflessly and tirelessly to help people like Alice maintain a sense of dignity - and community.

The movie also reminded me of a series of self portraits I saw on BoredPanda sometime last year. I've never quite gotten them out of my mind. 

“In 1995, U.K. based artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. This is a difficult diagnosis and disease for anyone, but before his death in 2007, Utermohlen created a heart-wrenching final series of self-portraits over a roughly 5-year period documenting the gradual decay of his mind due to this crippling disease.

An essay by the artist’s widow Patricia explains perfectly exactly why these images are so powerful: ‘In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness.’ It’s hard to say whether the changes in his portraits came about due the loss of his artistic skills or due to changes in his psyche but, in either case, they document the emotional turmoil of an artist watching his mind slip away from him bit by bit.”

- Boredpanda









Saturday, February 21, 2015

sponsored students!

We are making a difference.

This is the beginning of the school year in Uganda. That means new shoes, uniforms, books and pencils. It also means that we get to introduce the brand new class of Change the Truth Senior 1 sponsored students! Each of these children is special in so many ways. Despite huge obstacles, they have worked hard to attain a sponsorship and have promised to work hard to maintain it. We are so proud of and hopeful for Alpha, Shine, Mesearch and Alfonso! 

Nansubuga Alpha is 13 years old, She has been at SMK since Baby Class when she arrived with her siblings Nahia, Shawik and Sharif. Alpha is a full orphan, and her grandmother is her primary guardian.  She plays netball, side drum in the marching band, enjoys being part of the Traditional Dance Choir and was a Dormitory Prefect (2014) at SMK.  She says that school continues to teach her valuable skills, and her favorite subject is science. In the future, Alpha aspires to become a nurse.  She will attend Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School for her Senior 1 Year.

Akumpulira Shine is 13 years old. She has been at SMK since Primary 1 when she arrived with her siblings Caleb and Mesearch, Shine is in the choir and was Library Prefect (2014) at SMK.  She enjoys and does well in English, her favorite subject. She would like to become a lawyer.  Shine will attend Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School for her Senior 1 Year.

Tumwesigye Mesearch is 14 years old. He has been at SMK since Primary 1 when he arrived with his siblings Caleb and Shine. Mesearch is a full orphan, and his grandmother and uncle are his primary guardians.  Mesearch plays football and was the Head Boy Prefect (2014) at SMK.  He says that school has taught him that "the more you learn, the more you gain."  Mesearch would love to become a pilot someday. He will attend Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School for his Senior 1 Year.

Otim Alfonso (lovingly nicknamed "Boy-Boy") came to SMK from northern Uganda at the age of two when his mother became very ill. She could not care for him in the north, as there was much unrest and disorganization from years of rebel fighting in that region. His mother died from her long-term battle with her illness in 2014. His current guardians are his grandmother and uncle. Alfonso is actively involved in SMK's Brass Marching Band as a trumpet player. He also enjoys playing football. 


There are a few older students who would love to have personal sponsors. Might you be the right fit for one of these hard-working, determined, beautiful young men and women? The cost per year is $1250. These kids simply want a chance to succeed and stand on their own two feet. For them, continuing their education is the most important thing in the world. 

Auma Sanday arrived at SMK to attend Primary 3 (in 2006) with her mother (who is currently Head Warden and Dormitory Matron) and her two sisters (Ayo Lillian and Aloyo Scovia). Their family fled the unrest and rebel fighting in northern Uganda after her father was killed by rebel soldiers. Sanday enjoys assisting her mother with the caretaking of the younger children at SMK. She is still exploring her options for a future career path. Sanday has just begun her Senior 5 year.

Aloyo Scovia is currently in her Senior 6 year. She especially enjoys literature, entrepreneurship and computer. Scovia arrived at SMK in 2006 during her Primary 4 year. She came to SMK with her mother (who is currently Head Warden and Dormitory Matron) and her two younger sisters (Ayo Lillian and Auma Sanday). Their family fled the unrest and rebel fighting in northern Uganda after her father was killed by rebel soldiers. After completing secondary school, Scovia has aspirations of attending University to study either law or journalism.  

Yawe Joseph is currently in his Senior 6 year of secondary studies at Kajjansi Progressive Senior Secondary School. His classes include history, economics, Luganda and mathematics. Joseph arrived at SMK with his younger brother in 2007 during his Primary 5 year to play football for SMK's school team. His father died when Joseph was a young boy, and his mother is a farmer in a rural village. In his free time Joseph enjoys playing football. Joseph aspires to be a successful Ugandan businessman.

Namata Rechael completed her secondary studies at St. Noa Girls Secondary School in 2014. She is awaiting the results from her final Senior 6 National Examination. Next year Rechael would like to attend University to study Social Work so she can assist others the same way her family has been assisted. Rechael is an active participant in Cultural Dance, Brass Marching Band (she plays both the side drum and trombone) and Kuch Jazz Cultural Band as a vocalist.  

Achieng Catherine completed her Secondary studies at Bethel Covenant in 2014. She is waiting for her results from her final Senior 6 National Examination. Catherine would like to attend a University or vocational program to study nursing.

Claire Faith
Kyomuguisha Claire Faith is currently in her Senior 4 year. She came to SMK when she was in Primary 5, since her older brother, Billy had completed his primary studies from the school. (Billy recently graduated from Makerere University, thanks to a CTT sponsorship.) Claire Faith's father died when she was a young girl, and her mother is a waitress at a small restaurant in Kampala. Claire Faith is the youngest child with three older siblings.  She enjoys participating in both Choir and Traditional Ugandan Dance/Drumming.  

Lwasa Steven is currently in his Senior 4 year. He came to SMK from Nakilama village. He is a half-orphan: his father died in 1997. Steven came to SMK in 2006 for Primary 2 because his mother needed assistance. He enjoys playing football. A diligent, high performing student, Stephen would like to become an accountant.