Charity | We Can All Help

A memory from home, for Alana. A feather, delicately positioned between rocks, lies in a shallow pool of water on Squeaky Beach in Wilsons Promontory National Park, Australia.

My idea of a hero is an ordinary person living an extraordinary life. While the day-to-day hassles of working for the man stop most from living the life they desire, there’s no reason why we all can’t find a way to live the life of a hero, at least some of the time. Today’s post is about one such person, Alana Holmberg.

One of the joys of teaching is the opportunity to meet great people and help them along the way to realising their dreams. I had just such an encounter recently while working with Alana at one of my Melbourne based photography courses. Alana has recently journey to South Africa where she will be helping out a friend of hers, Rebecca, who has set up a not-for-profit organization called CCOP: Connecting people who want to help, with people who need help. Working in developing communities in Kwa-Zulu Natal near Durban, Alana will be utilizing her writing and photography skills to document Bec’s work and the programs she runs. In addition Alana will be running a photography workshop where the young participants will learn basic aspects of photography prior to going out, in pairs, and making photos with simple Single Use Cameras (SUC). You may know them as disposable cameras, a somewhat less environmentally friendly term.

Alana sent out an email to friends and family requesting support to raise enough money to purchase the cameras and fund the subsequent processing of the photos. Her efforts have been rewarded and the $1,050 raised will allow her to run 3 workshops. The last time I saw her she was about to embark on what I’m sure you’d agree is a wonderful adventure.

I understand that participants will use their photos as reference points from which they will produce paintings. The area in which Alana will be working is known as the Valley of a Thousand Hills. 50% of the population are HIV positive and 40% unemployed.

Growing up in such an environment must be incredibly difficult, which is why such programs are so greatly appreciated by the local community. As well as a pleasurable pursuit, art provides a powerful way by which the local children can express their joy and aspirations. It also allows them to work through many of the issues that their environment places upon their young shoulders. There is great value in this program and the work that Alana and Bec are undertaking is to be commended.

I was really pleased to be able to contribute to this endeavour by producing a PowerPoint presentation with images and text to support Alana’s teaching. With luck I’II be able to provide further assistance upon her return: I know Alana has considered running an exhibition to raise awareness and, maybe, more funds.

You know how it is – we all want to help, but don’t know how. Giving money is always good, but there are so many other ways we can help. Direct and positive feedback is always appreciated as is spreading the word. How many people spend a good portion of their day forwarding silly or smut-laden emails around the world? How many take a keen interest in the woes (weight, relationship and substance related issues) of so-called celebrities. Maybe once in a while we should make a point of spreading some good news around.

The internet is a powerful tool and it costs nothing to bring some joy into the lives of others. In doing so you’ll make a positive difference by helping to bring attention to the good work of others. And you know what else: it feels good too.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru