PhotoVoice worked in Ethiopia to give elderly people the skills and confidence needed to share their lives through photography.
Age International, HelpAge International
Erna Mentesnot-Hintz & Sofia Mohamed, HelpAge International
Working in partnership with Age International and their local partner in Ethiopia, HelpAge International, PhotoVoice trained five older people in two communities in Addis Ababa. Two great grandchildren of one of the older people, Wagay, were also included so that they could give their perspectives on the support and care they receive living with an older person.
- To give elderly people the skills and confidence needed to share their lives and challenges through photography.
The participants were all trained in the use of photography as a way to communicate what is important to them, and encouraged to capture the details of their lives and homes that they feel others may not be aware of, but which affect their wellbeing and happiness. These photographs, and those that the participants will go on to take, will form the basis for a better understanding of the daily lives and support needs of older people in these communities, for staff of the organisations involved and the wider public.
Local HelpAge staff were also given PhotoVoice training in digital photography techniques, image ethics and the use of participatory photography with beneficiary communities. They will begin to give more people in the communities they support the opportunity to represent themselves and feed back about their experiences and challenges through photography, while also gaining new skills and having fun documenting the experiences and people in their lives that they want to remember.
An exhibition of photographs and a project reception was held in the reputed Asni Gallery in Addis Ababa on Saturday 31st August. The event was attended by all the photographers, staff of the community centres that support them, and a host of public visitors. The participants were presented with their certificates of achievements, and were on hand to explain their photographs to interested visitors who were keen to ask questions and give feedback on their favourites.
An expanded version of the exhibition was showcased during the ‘Week of Older People’ in October 2013, which started on the International Day of Older People on 1 October. The aim of the week was to engage older people in public activities and events to raise awareness of the positive contribution they have and can have in society.
Age International and its overseas implementing partner, HelpAge, run a joint sponsorship scheme (Age International recruits the donors and HelpAge supports the beneficiaries). Sponsor a Grandchild (SAG) focuses on destitute older people with no-one to care for them; and Raise a Grandchild (RAG) focuses on older people caring for orphaned grandchildren.
The SAG/RAG programme in Ethiopia focuses on improving living conditions for 892 destitute older people through the provision of cash transfers, nutritious food, clothing, free medical services and psycho-social support. The programme is based in Addis Ababa, Chancha and Dire Dawa, and provides support to eight local partners, two of whom participated in the PhotoVoice project.
The Eneredada Elder People’s Centre
Eneredada harnesses the traditional craft knowledge of older Ethiopians. The women come to the centre to spin, the men to weave. Together they chat and make ‘gabis’, a traditional shawl. These are sold in their own small shop: the money they make helps to keep the project going. And the company they provide each other makes each day that little bit better.
The Community Based Integrated Sustainable Development Organisation (CBISDO)
CBISDO is a community centre for older people. Here they receive a balanced and nourishing meal – not only does it assist people in later life, but also the orphaned grandchildren in their care. They also receive clothing and hygiene products.