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

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.

Friday, February 20, 2015

ruby and uganda

red dust

I am reading a book called Ruby by Cynthia Bond. Above are just some of the words that describe where my head has been while turning the pages of this powerful tale. At the same time I have been reprinting some of my early Ugandan work.

I can't deny - and have actually embraced - the sensibilities that have been aroused by the place and the people portrayed by Bond… by the smells and the sounds and the rhythms and the thick east Texas air that simply remind me, more often than not, of Uganda.

So often music and literature profoundly impact the work I happen to be making. I love that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

meet fred and sarah

At this end of this month, Fred will be making his third trip to SMK. The children love him and can't wait to get their arms around him once again!

Here's the scoop on this special man:

Fred Grossman is a clinical psychologist who transferred his practice from Kansas City to  Portland, Oregon in 2010. He has been in practice since 1977.

In addition to his practice, Fred has volunteered  in a variety of settings including a woman’s shelter, an AIDS clinic and an adolescent diversion program. Fred has also worked with clergy to provide a more effective delivery system to parishioners. Fred has traveled to Africa twice to volunteer for Change the Truth. He is enjoying giving his time as a Board Member of the organization. 

In his leisure, Fred enjoys hiking, traveling and spending time with his wife Cheryl and his children Erica, Ian and Dennis.

Sarah is a nurse who was in Uganda last June for the first time. She fell head over heels in love with the country and its people and didn't waste any time finding a way to return. On March 1st, she will make her first trip with CTT. We are so happy to welcome her into the CTT family!

Here's the scoop on Sarah:

This will be my second time in Uganda, the first being a medically focused trip at Lacor Hospital in Gulu. As a registered nurse, my focus will be in health education on an age-appropriate level and fun-oriented manner, covering two main topics: infection control and burn prevention. Having experienced a Ugandan hospital for three weeks, it became apparent that education on these two topics could vastly cut down on injuries, illness, and hospital visits. I'm especially excited to be working with children at St. Mary Kevin's. Ugandan children have so much light and joy in their hearts despite their situations, it's hard not to be filled with smiles and happiness.