A Chance for Childhood with comedian Milton Jones in Rwanda
When I first set up my business as a freelance wedding photographer, I wanted to ensure that I made time in my schedule to volunteer on humanitarian projects. I recently had the privilege of visiting Rwanda for the second time with the UK-based charity Chance for Childhood, this time alongside comedian Milton Jones.
Milton is one of the patrons of the charity and I spent six days with him and the Chance for Childhood staff, volunteering my time and skills to photograph the ongoing projects so that the charity would have some fresh images for their fund-raising material as well as providing vital visual evidence of the hardships faced by the communities we visited.
About Chance for Childhood
The charity works in harsh environments where violence and poverty rob thousands of young people of their childhoods and forces them to grow up much too quickly. Many have already lived chaotic lives where a loving home and a good education are just pipe dreams.
Their projects support vulnerable children in Brazil, D.R. Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia, working with young people who face daily hardships. They are committed to protecting, educating and sustaining care. The young people of Rwanda were the focus for this particular project.
About Rwanda – The land of a thousand hills
Rwanda is a beautiful country. What may surprise you from these photos, is the lush green and mountainous terrain, which is not what may spring to mind when one visualises Africa.
It is a country which has suffered from war and genocide, as recently as 1994, but there are signs of economic recovery, with tourism increasing. What we found was a country in need, but, judging by the stories recounted by many, one that is slowly recovering from its past.
Deafness and disability has long been stigmatised in Rwanda, and the charity is working tirelessly to support families with disabled children. We met a child with cerebral palsy who had been abandoned as a baby in a sack, at the side of a road. A local family adopted him, despite the poverty they were living through then, and still endure daily. We met children with other severe and moderate learning difficulties, who, Chance for Childhood are protecting and educating.
Despite this hardship, during our week there, we witnessed incredibly positive scenes and it was humbling to see how the assistance provided by the charity is improving the lives and living conditions of so many people and enabling them to get an education.
How can you help?
Inevitably, the charity needs financial support and I was able to take over many generous donations of clothes, sanitary towels, stationery, toothpaste etc. Many of my friends and family also made monetary donations, all of which will make a huge difference to these people’s lives.
If you’d like to donate, Chance for Childhood and the Rwandan people would be incredibly grateful.
Any sum, no matter how small, helps. Here are some examples of how far a relatively small sum of money can stretch:
- £15 could pay for three days of vital outreach work to find and protect vulnerable street children.
- £40 will buy a pig, which will be bred and the piglets traded with other villagers.
- 50p for a guinea pig, which will be used for food.
- £5 for a chicken which will produce eggs, a vital source of much-needed protein.
- £15 for a goat, used for food and also for manure to fertilise the soil to help grow fruit and vegetables.
- £100 could pay for two years of educational support for a girl at risk of prostitution.
- £50 could provide a week of trauma counselling to help a former child soldier rebuild their life.
But what shocked me the most is that £3 is sufficient to buy health insurance for one person for an entire year. Yes, £3 for an entire year.
You can donate by clicking the link below – Thank you:
A heartfelt thank you!
I wanted to thank everyone who donated the many items that I took over to Rwanda, as well as those who made monetary donations to the charity. You have helped to make the world a better place, thank you.
Thanks to Connie, Anna-mai, Innocent, Jacqueline, Louis and everyone from Chance for Childhood in the UK and worldwide. Plus our driver, interpreters and guides who worked alongside us – Thank you.
Thanks to Milton Jones and his family, it was an absolute pleasure to work alongside you. I’ll see you on tour at the Lowry theatre in Salford next year.
Thank you to Jean Chris Kitoko, a Rwanda-based videographer and photographer whom I had the pleasure of working alongside during the trip.
And finally I want to thank my wife, children and the rest of my family & friends who support me on these journeys.
Peace is free
All images are © Steve Grogan Photography.
Words by Steve Grogan and Get Pro Copy.
This is a fantastic narrative of your time in Rwanda! I had the pleasure of working with Connie during her time in Morocco working with vulnerable street children (Moroccan Children’s Trust), and I’ve been aching to get a visual understanding of what projects she is now supporting. I especially appreciated how your sensitivity to the situations you encountered is captured in your photography. Well done on you for getting to make the journey and making a full contribution to Chances for Childhood. Thanks again for sharing this.
Thank you so much, Sarah. I really appreciate your comments. Connie is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met and it was such a privilege to witness her working with these vulnerable families close up. I’m so happy that you mentioned the sensitivity thing, I’ve never photographed children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities before so this was a completely new experience for me. Despite the challenges they face on a daily basis, the overwhelming vibe was one of positivity and of looking forward to the future now that they have access to assistance and education. I tried to make this come across in my photographs. Thanks again. 🙂
Steve – you are a complete star and such an amazing support to me, the team and all of the children we support across Africa. It was a privilege to share the amazing stories of these children and families and see the difference that you and so many others have made. Thank you so much! Annamai CEO Chance for Childhood x
It is my pleasure, I’m just glad that I can help. 🙂