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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I say the following quite often:

I love photography.

I can also be heard saying this quite often:

Everyone's a photographer now.

This is an awesome read.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

happy birthday

My mom would be 89 today.

I'm sad that she's missing out on her great grandson Henry. In honor of her birthday, here's a video of the little monkey.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

a fair film

40,000 still pictures and hundreds of hours later, this stop motion film emerged from the studio of photographer/director Ben Van Hook. It's beautiful, nostalgic, magical, sweet and amazing.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

hipsta in my town

I shot some pictures with my Hiptsa yesterday afternoon. I love working with it... feel like I'm sketching. These may end up going in the 2012 Operation Breakthrough video.

I made them in the urban core of Kansas City with the low, bright winter sun bearing down.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

leah's bat mitzvah

This past weekend I attended the Bat Mitzvah of Leah Sosland. Leah has been a good friend to Change the Truth since the age of ten.

In the Jewish tradition, now that she is 13, Leah has the responsibility to observe the commandments from the Torah. (Not just the 10 Commandments, but also all 613 that are contained in the Torah.)

Also, Leah must now take responsibility for her own deeds and misdeeds.

Modern Judaism emphasizes the obligation to actively work for tikkun olam, the improvement of the world for all humanity. Leah chose Change the Truth as her specific Bat Mitzvah project. She wants to make the world a better place by helping children who have very little. I’m so proud of her for doing so. I’m also very grateful.

Leah is the fifth young person to make the decision to assist the children at St. Mary Kevin Orphanage with funds donated in honor of their Bar or Bat Mitzvah. In the past JJ, Sarah, Sara and Josh have also been moved to help. These teenagers have been responsible for some marked changes in the lives of the kids in Uganda.

It doesn’t get much better than kids helping kids, does it?

At the reception following Leah’s Bat Mitzvah service, those in attendance were introduced to the children Leah is helping. Pictures of the orphans had been carefully placed at the center of each table, along with the jewelry, tie-dyed fabric and banana fiber dolls they have made.

It was heart warming to look around and see the faces of my young Ugandan friends spread all across the room. I have no doubt their beautiful smiles landed in the hearts of some new CTT friends.

Thank you, Leah, for making that possible.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

new digs, big print

I've been busy nesting in our new place. I do love this part of moving.

A few weeks ago, John Hans made a 30" x 40" print of an image I made in Uganda this past December, "Girl in Red Dress". I hung it yesterday in our new home. I love walking into the living room and seeing her there.

Monday, February 20, 2012

precious possessions: guest post by melissa

"This past week I helped prepare the new Senior 1 students for school. Each school typically has a list of requirements for students - items for the school (like photocopy paper, brooms, toilet paper), school supplies (notebooks, pens, art supplies, etc.), personal items (hygiene items and clothing), and dormitory supplies (basin, bed sheets, mattress, mosquito net, soap, etc). I have developed a system for purchasing most of the supplies from various shops in Kajjansi. I like to shop locally and support the small business owner. Every student goes to school with the same supplies, so it simplifies shopping considerably. While I make these purchases carefully within a tight budget, I give little thought to the items otherwise.

However, I have been humbly reminded of the significance these supplies are to the Change The Truth students. CTT provides as many of the essentials as possible within the parameters of the annual sponsorship, as CTT wants students to be equivalent with their peers in the boarding section at school. SMK and guardians have provided as much as possible for the orphans, but it is a reality that personal possessions are few and precious. Children learn to share, borrow, and barter with one another at an early age. So it only stands to reason that receiving individual items would carry additional meaning and significance.

There have been a couple of distinct moments that I have given pause to what ‘new and personal’ supplies really mean to the CTT students. The students have been received second-hand clothing or shoes for their entire lives, which they often have to wear for more than one year. So the idea that they are getting a new pair of school shoes annually is sometimes mind-blowing. Then when they find out that they are going into Kampala to shop for those shoes themselves, they are doubly thrilled. Something so small and simple from my experience is so special and thrilling to the CTT students.

In addition, students take notice that they are going to school with their own bathing soap, washing soap, shoe polish, vasoline, etc. These are items that they are typically used to sharing or borrowing from others. When students are presented with these simple items, their reaction would make one would think they were plated in gold! Students then take meticulous efforts to label their items, pack them neatly in their small metal case and then inventory their case. Some students can be found opening and reopening their cases several times a day, just to make sure their items are still there.

When heading to school, a student’s essentials are all contained in this small case. I have often challenged myself to think about what would go into my case. What would be the most valuable or useful possessions for me? For most students, it is their notebooks from previous years, a few photos/letters, and their personal care items.

I certainly hope that I remember this experience in the future, and I continue to appreciate the smaller essentials (like soap, toothpaste, pens) a bit more than I have in the past. After all, life without them would be a completely different experience, so CTT should be proud of providing a well-rounded, fully supported experience for its students. I am a witness to how even the smallest items have enriched their lives!"

Friday, February 17, 2012

new students begin secondary school: guest post by melissa

"This past week I have devoted my energies in preparing CTT’s new 7 sponsored students for Secondary school - both physically and mentally. In addition to visiting schools, we shopped for new school supplies, shoes, book bags, hygiene supplies, towels, bedding, dishes, etc. We ensured that everything was properly labelled and packed nicely in their cases. We went over school rules, completed physicals, and a few other school requirements.

Senior 1 is the beginning of another world for these students, as the next step in their educational journey. They are arriving at Secondary as new fish in a really large pond. One of the schools even affectionately referred to new Senior 1 students as the ‘babies.’ Everything is new for them, and they must quickly acclimate to the rigorous challenges of going from 4 subjects to 16 subjects (yeah, no kidding!). They no longer have the security blanket of familiar teachers, rules, environment that SMK has provided them for their entire Primary school years.

In most ways, each student was excited. They are venturing away from SMK to make a new group of friends, explore their talents, and advance their education with serious devotion. They have been hearing about Secondary school from older students for years, and now it is their turn to experience this great privilege (and each of these sponsored students recognize that advancing to Secondary school is an elite privilege for them). However, there were also some elements of anxiety to address (and squelch). Would they be teased? Would they have the proper things? Who would help them with problems? How would they know where to go and at what time? Did I promise to come and visit them?

I have to admit, it was challenging to leave this group of students at school. They looked physically small and vulnerable in so many ways, yet their bright eyes were gleaming with excitement. They walked around the campus with wide eyes soaking up the atmosphere as their heads shifted from side to side. They looked at the older students with glances of reverence and respect.

This year Change The Truth chose two excellent schools to place students in: St. Charles Lwanga International Secondary School and Taibah International College School. CTT, St. Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood and the supporters of these students have high hopes for Claire Faith, Evelyn, Francis, Isabella, Rebecca, Scovia, and Steven. Each student has great gifts and much potential for excellence. We look forward to witnessing their growth in Secondary school."

- Melissa

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

henry driving

Abbie sent me this photo recently. I'd love it even if it wasn't of my grandson.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

a little lovin' goes a long way

Evalyn, 2010

Valentine's Day can be more than just a way to boost sales for candy companies, card shops and florists. Make it a day to share the love! And, of course, you don't really need Valentine's Day to do so. You can give valentines any day of the year.

There have been many love affairs that have sprung from Change the Truth's relationship with St. Mary Kevin Orphanage in Uganda.

On my mind today is the one between Avis (who has been on two trips to the orphanage and is now a CTT board member) and a young girl named Evalyn.

Avis fell in love with Evalyn during the 2010 trip. Evalyn was shy and quiet and always seemed sad. On top of that, she had a bad skin fungus, and she kept herself kind of isolated from the other children. Avis reached out to her, and they became inseparable.

Avis never stopped thinking about Evalyn when she returned to her life in Kansas City. The two were reunited this past December, and they established an even deeper bond. Evalyn had just recently reached an important point in her young life: she had graduated from primary school.

Avis was disheartened to learn that not all of the primary school graduates receive a CTT sponsorship for secondary school. She was even more distraught when she discovered that the children who do not get them can no longer stay at SMK. In talking with Evalyn, Avis realized that if there was no sponsorship, Evalyn would have to return to her village and the very poor and abusive father who lives there. Evalyn has really blossomed because of Avis' love. No one wanted to see that reversed, especially Avis.

So she decided to give Evalyn a very big big valentine: she became her sponsor and paid the school fees.

Avis shared the love.

Now, that's the way to celebrate a day like today!

Evalyn, first day at her new school, 2012

Thursday, February 09, 2012

artwork anyone?

I've been loading up my car and taking things over to the new condo. Mostly books and artwork at this point.

We have some artwork we would like to sell. If anyone is interested, please send me an email or leave a comment here. I will put together a list of what is available in the next few days. As you can imagine, there are some photographs. But we also have paintings, prints, sculpture and ceramics.

We will be having an estate sale in April, but I'd love to place the artwork before then. Let me know if you (or someone you know) is interested in seeing the list of items.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

new sponsored students

I am very pleased to announce that Change the Truth has granted six new sponsorships for the upcoming school year!

These recent primary school graduates are very excited and proud to have been given the opportunity to continue their education at high quality secondary schools (equivalent to high school in the US). All of these young people did well in primary school and show a lot of promise for the future. All but one are full orphans (have lost both parents) and have established themselves as engaged and enthusiastic friends of Change the Truth. In fact, this is the first year ever that each Senior 1 student has an individual sponsor. This means that certain CTT donors have made commitments to pay the school fees for these specific children. It's quite an honor for these kids, not to mention an incredible opportunity.

Congratulations to these smart, deserving, hard-working and lovely young people. They start school next week, and everyone at CTT wishes them well!

(back row from left to right)

(front row)
Claire Faith

[Thanks to Melissa for the great photo.]

Monday, February 06, 2012

update on brian

Brian in December (before his accident)

Many readers of this blog have sent me emails asking how Brian is doing. He is lucky so many people care about him!

Melissa has taken Brian into her home. He will not attend school this term. Under Melissa's care and watchful eye, Brian is working hard to regain his strength, mobility, balance, cognitive skills and memory. He is making progress. We are hoping his headaches will soon disappear and that his ability to walk, read, draw and study continue to improve. He works hard and has youth on his side; a full recovery from his severe concussion must surely be within reach.

Brian, like many of the Change the Truth sponsored students, has a specific family that pays his school fees. Brian has never met this family, but he feels very connected to them and grateful for their support. One of Brian's first completed drawings since his accident is of this family. They had sent him a family photo in a recent letter, and he used it for inspiration. I thought it was incredibly sweet (and incredibly good!) and figured you might, too.

Three weeks ago, he told me on the phone that he was frustrated because he could not draw a straight line and that he could not write his name well. Considering this recent drawing, it's obvious he's made huge strides forward! I can't tell you how happy I was to see this.

Sunday, February 05, 2012


"Are you changing the truth, or is the truth changing you?"

Eddie asked me this not long after my first trip to Uganda, shortly after I had dreamt up the idea of Change the Truth.

It was an amazingly astute question. One that I continue to ask myself.

The biggest change is about to happen. This week Eddie and I will begin moving our stuff to the small apartment we bought in September. The new floors have been laid and polished, the fireplace has been built, bookshelves have been installed and the shades on the windows replaced.

Each year when I return to my big (six bedroom), old (built in 1915), rambling house after being in Uganda, I wonder how in the world can two people (Eddie and I) justify living with such excess. There are rooms we don’t step foot in for days! There are closets full of things we haven’t touched in years! There are stacks of books, clothes and “keepsakes” we have managed to ignore for decades!

Yes, we’re downsizing, or as a friend who has already done this smugly calls it: rightsizing.

And I’m terrified.

Eddie’s wanted to do this for years. He’s tired of shoveling snow, pulling leaves out of the gutter, replacing broken furnaces and worn out roofs. He’s done with home ownership. It was exciting years ago. Now it’s a pain, and frankly, it’s difficult for him given his issues with Myasthenia Gravis.

But me? I like our yard, the tree lined street, the mail carrier coming up our sidewalk and the kids playing basketball on the driveway next door. I like the way our stairs creak and the absolute quiet that surrounds me each morning when the sun peeks through our bedroom windows. I like having so much wall space I can still feel like I’m a gallery owner. I like peering into our children’s bedrooms now and then, even though Abbie and Max don’t live here anymore.

There are so many pros and so many cons. Believe me, I’ve made countless lists over the past few years. Each column is long.

Well, the pros finally won out, and now we are schlepping our things a few blocks away to the fourth floor of a 12-story building on the Plaza. It’ll be cool to be right across the street from a park and just steps away from great stores and restaurants. Our carbon footprint will decrease in size. We’ll feel more urban. We’ll only keep and use those things we really need.

In a way, it’s like starting over. Fresh with a clean slate. Getting married to each other all over again. Designing a new place. Picking out some new (smaller) furnishings. Deciding on new paint colors for rooms.

I bought new dishtowels. And new pillows for our couch.

But change. It’s scary and difficult. Lord knows I’ve shed some tears over this upcoming move; I’ve questioned the decision a hundred times. But change can mark the beginning of something exciting and adventurous and can open us up to so much we hadn’t considered before. And getting rid of all the stuff we don’t need... I think we’ll feel lighter and freer!

Did I mention there is always free hot chocolate available in the lobby?

Friday, February 03, 2012


I am so excited to be featured on Lenscratch today!

Lenscratch is considered one of the top photography blogs in existence. And Aline, its founder... well, she's not so shabby either. A truly lovely and passionate mother/photographer/writer/friend.

Thank you so much, Aline, for including me in your "Success Story" lineup. I am truly honored.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

new color work on the website

The new color work I made in Uganda this past December is now on my website. If you've been following this blog for the past six weeks, you've seen most of it. There are a few new images I haven't posted, though, including the following small selection. Please take a look at my website (the gallery is called Uganda Color) if you'd like to see the complete body of work. (Knowing myself as I do, I'm sure I will sift through the files again at some point and rescue one or two pictures that will have taken on more meaning for me.)

My website is www.gloriabakerfeinstein.com