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

Friday, January 30, 2009

the sun

I send photographs every now and then to The Sun. It's a magazine unlike any other. The Sun has been very supportive of my work over the years; this month's issue features my fourth cover.

The image is of a little girl named Emma. She's the daughter of a friend of mine. At the time, 1997, Emma was immersed in everything "Beauty and the Beast." She wore Belle clothes, and she insisted that her pals call her Belle. Emma, now a high school senior, was recently accepted to the Chicago Art Institute, where she'll go this fall to study fashion and graphic design!

When the creative director at The Sun receives a submission he likes, he files it away for future use. All these years later, he pulled this picture of Emma out of the archives, and voila! Imagine my surprise when I saw the magazine. And Emma's, too!

I pulled the following description of The Sun from their website. If you are not already a subscriber, you may want to consider it. If you are a photographer, you may want to send them work. There are so few opportunities for the publication of black and white photography anymore. This is a great one.

"The Sun is an independent, ad-free monthly magazine that for more than thirty years has used words and photographs to invoke the splendor and heartache of being human. The Sun celebrates life, but not in a way that ignores its complexity. The personal essays, short stories, interviews, poetry, and photographs that appear in its pages explore the challenges we face and the moments when we rise to meet those challenges.

The Sun publishes the work of emerging and established artists who are striving to be thoughtful and authentic. Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize, been published in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, and been broadcast on National Public Radio.

The Sun invites readers to consider an array of political, social, and philosophical ideas and then to join the conversation. Each issue includes a section devoted entirely to writing by readers, who address topics as varied as Telling the Truth, Neighbors, Hiding Places, Second Chances, and Gambling.

From its idealistic, unlikely inception in 1974 to its current incarnation as a nonprofit magazine with more than 70,000 subscribers, The Sun has attempted to marry the personal and political; to honor the genuine and the spiritual; to see what kind of roommates beauty and truth can be; and to show that powerful teaching can be found in the lives of ordinary people."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

lisa jack

Lisa Jack, a fledgling college photographer asked a particular friend to model for her in 1980. They were both students at Occidental College in LA. Jack never did make it as a photographer; she is now a psychologist. She went to her basement and dug through old negatives on a dare from a skeptical friend and was delighted to find them. She was also surprised she had shot an entire roll. She put the film in a safe deposit box and waited until after the election to reveal them, as she is not political and did not want to get involved on that level. Today, Jack says, she hopes the photos reveal a "spirit of fun and thoughtfulness."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

head cold + too cold = a need for warm and happy pics

A cold has got me down, and the deep freeze in which we in the Midwest find ourselves has got even more people down. So I have decided to post these uplifting pictures from our visit to St. Mary Kevin's.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


As you know, Change the Truth helps support many students in their quest to attend secondary school (the equivalent of high school in the US). We also sponsor one student who has already graduated and who has long had the dream of continuing his education. Douglas started nursing school this past November.

When we were in Uganda last month, Douglas gave us a tour of his school. He could not have been more proud showing us his campus, dorm room and lecture halls and explaining his schedule. He is working hard and really enjoying his classes. I asked him to share some of his thoughts about school, and this is what he wrote:

"These are some of my experiences so far at school:

I have been able to learn a lot of things in the short time that I have been at school. Like I have acquired a lot in the lectures. I am now able to give first aid to the casualties. I can examine the patient and tell what he is suffering, and I am also able to carry out vital observations.

Why I am doing the nursing course:

I saw it as a great chance for me to do this course since I grew up in a village where there were no health workers. I knew that if I could become a health worker I would at least help a lot of people. Mainly I wanted to get a way of how I could help the kids - mainly the orphans. I see that when I can complete this course I can help out the young through what I will be learning.

My goals:

I am sure that I will fulfill my mission. I want to help orphans, mainly those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. I see this as a great chance to start working for these kids. I am so proud of all those who want to help out young children like Change the Truth. I am so grateful that Change the Truth came out and backed my going to school."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

streetcar pictures

Work on the Streetcar project continues now that I am in Portland. Yesterday I ventured out of our neighborhood to ride the rail on its entire eight-mile loop, scoping out good vantage points from which to photograph. I made a new triptych, one which is kind of more about trees than the passengers in the cars.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

melissa in washington dc!

One of the CTT Uganda Team members has made her most recent trip one to Washington and ended up on the New York Times website! Click here, watch the short video, then click on the woman in the lower left. She, Aileen, works at Operation Breakthrough and is a friend and colleague of Melissa's. You'll hear a quick bit about their trip and see photos of Melissa!

carol/ unimaginable

I received this email from Carol this morning:

"After the inauguration, Mark Shields said on the PBS news hour that what struck him forcibly as he looked around the room where President Obama was signing his first nominations was that 'it was really a pageant of America’s change. If you looked at that room, there was the first Senate majority leader who is a Mormon. There was the first woman speaker of the House, who is Italian-American. There was the first vice president of the United States who is a Catholic. There was the first woman chair of an inaugural event who is the first woman senator from California and the first woman mayor of San Francisco, who is Jewish. And you say, WOW!'

And so do I. What an amazing day. If anyone had told me on 9/11 that the next U.S. president would have Hussein for a middle name, I’d have advised them to get psychiatric help. And now, to the great events of my lifetime - man on the moon, Sadat in Jerusalem, Iron Curtain gone, Nelson Mandela free - I can add Barack Obama as president.

Truly a world full of miracles."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

monday morning

I’m heading to Portland for a week to get away with Eddie, continue work on my Streetcar Series, to begin work on a new book (more on that later) to deliver a show to Vancouver, Washington (more on that later, too) finally get to the Japanese Gardens, do some hiking and maybe even to dance in the very liberal Stumptown streets on Inauguration Day.

Parting shot: Emma Vincent, one of the older orphans at St. Mary Kevin’s who is being sponsored by Change the Truth, showing off the Obama shirt sent to him by his Kansas City pen pal. When we were in Uganda last month, cries of “OBAMA!” accompanied by triumphantly raised hands and occasional fist bumping were not unusual.

My little friend, Nicholas, who lives at the orphanage, asked me one day if I had supported Obama. When I told him yes, his whole adorable face morphed into one proud grin as he nodded and said, “So did I.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

sam and abbie

This past week was especially nice because my daughter and son-in-law were in town for a visit!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

grandparents/great grandparents

On the edge of the St. Mary Kevin property is a small enclave of mud homes that belong to several older Kajjansi residents. Rosemary has taken it upon herself to provide what assistance she can to these men and women who have huts full of orphaned grandchildren and great grandchildren. She thinks of them as part of her family. (Keep in mind that the average life expectance in Uganda is 49 years - these folks have defied the odds.)

One afternoon, Rosemary took me over to see her elderly “family” and had me present each of them with one of the extra blankets we had purchased for the children at SMK. They were, of course, extremely happy to see us and were very grateful for the gifts.

Though they have next to nothing to call their own, they are a proud and dignified group of people.

Monday, January 12, 2009

some of our sponsored students








Take a look at these beautiful and determined young adults who are making their way through secondary school thanks to donations from Change the Truth supporters.

We are currently sponsoring nineteen students. Now that a new class has graduated from P-7 (primary seven) there will be more kids who will be ready for the next level of education, which is S-1 (senior one). School starts again in February, and Change the Truth has committed to helping a handful of the upcoming class pay their school fees. Many thanks to all of you who have supported this important project.

Friday, January 09, 2009

kids helping kids

To be inspired is to witness how selfless and generous young people can be.

Sarah (Team 2) from New York has shown us just how dedicated and caring a young woman who is about to become a Bat Mitzvah can truly be. Since our trip, I have heard from two other Saras; one from Chicago who has decided that Change the Truth will also be her Bat Mitzvah project and a college student from Kansas City who is applying for a grant to spend a month working at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage this coming summer.

Just when I thought it was the month of Sara(h), I received this email from Jenna, a high school student in Kansas City.

"Gloria: When you came to class and told us your story I truly was inspired. For my final project I donated my large beanie baby collection to Change the Truth. As I was collecting all my beanie babies my mom was constantly asking me if I was sure I wanted to give them all away. At first I have to admit I was a little sad. I felt as though I was giving away a part of my childhood. But I then realized that these beanie babies only hold memories from when I was a young girl and those memories are forever with me. Why should I be selfish and let these beanie babies collect dust in my closet when a child, who has nothing, could also make wonderful memories with the cuddly creatures? Donating the beanie babies to Change the Truth gave me an understanding as to what charity is actually about. I realized that I received so much more than what I gave away to the children. I felt as though I was truly going to make a difference in a child's life. It was a feeling of great fulfillment and gratification for the soul."

We can all learn a lot from the younger generation.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


“I dreamed that I fell in the lake. Then I shouted at the water.” – Nahia, age 12

“I dreamed that a dog bit me. I dreamed that snakes bit me.” – Martha, age 9

“I saw a devil coming to kill me. I shouted to Mummy to come and help me. I shouted loudly. My mother refused to open the door for the devil.” Leku, age 14

“I dreamed when they were going to take us to war. I was the leader of my team. There was a man who was a president, and he was the one who commanded us to go and fight.

There were seven of us. That man gave us an airplane for war.

The soldiers got a helicopter to come. It was going to kill all my soldiers. We jumped out of the airplane, and the blades started but my team won the war.

We went back to the base, and we made a party for my team.” – James, age 12

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


"In a nick of time, having lay down on my bed, I was caught up in a deep sleep down in the forest where we fetched water in the village.
As I dropped the bucket down in the well, an unknown sound from the forest started shouting loudly in a scary voice: 'I have you today.'

Before I could fill my bucket to the brim, my sister Sarah had left. I knew now that I was in for it.

I started hearing a voice coming from all sides of my slim body: ‘I need you.' That’s what it said.

Trees around me started shaking.

I shuddered, then my voice started dying out. However much I could call for my twin sister, Sarah, for a rescue, it was all in vain!

My heart drummed against my chest; it felt like my hair was off my head. I opted to run, but the legs could not make it to their best.

After all this shivering and scary moments, I heard the voice of Sarah saying, ‘Nelson, I am dying. Please come and help me!’

I tried to follow where the voice was coming from, but I was disturbed by the echoes in the forest.

I ran following the background of her sound. I saw her. She cried at me with her tears flowing like a faulty tap. ‘Nelson, can you do something?’ I now started crying as I saw this: an unknown animal I have never seen before.

I came close to her only to see her belly being cut and made open. This gave me much fear and proved little chance of survival. Genuinely speaking, I had no way to help Sarah, and there she died.

The animal then came close and ran after me. I ran backwards calling out for help. Tears of melancholy cascaded down my muddy face as the animal jumped and caught me up. I woke up only to remember that it was just a dream. I felt relieved!" – Nelson, age 18

Monday, January 05, 2009


Sifting through images I made of the children's dreams, I am finding obvious recurring themes. I am finding that there were few "happy" dreams, even though I often encouraged the children to try to recall those specifically.

I am finding that I am constantly thinking about their dreams, even as I am here in the US on my comfortable bed trying to have my own.

“I walked to our village. It was very far. There my mum was going to the garden and she saw a big snake. She killed the big snake. The mother of the snake wanted to kill my mother because she had killed its child.” – Mackline, age 10

“When I was asleep, I dreamed that I was with my mum at home, and an Englishman came to our home. He took me to England to play football. When we reached there, I started playing, and I sent my mum money.” - Caleb, age 11

“I was playing with my friend, and he pushed me into the lake. I started to swim, and my clothes got wet. After that I went back home, and my mom asked me where I had been.” – Douglas, age 9

“At night when I was sleeping, I had a horrible dream. I saw a night dancer. He chased me all night. I was in the village, and the only solution which I had was to run up to the house. My big brothers came for my rescue, and they chased him away. He went back to his home. He left behind bones of the dead.” - Vincent, age 10

“I mostly dream that my father is one of the richest men in Kampala.” – Billy, age 16

“Sometimes I dream that the ground is breaking and I am falling down in there. When I wake up, I think it is true and I cry.” – Isabella, age 11