Photography for Good! The ONE-SHOT Project.
I’ve been waiting for quite some time to write about this project. First I was waiting for the wonderful community at IGVP to launch their website back in July, and then because I was really busy working my last month in Iraq. I could hardly wait to be back in Chile to blog about it. But now, after 6-7 weeks in Chile, I’m finally able to start blogging again and I want to do it with this project because it’s a big part of my heart/vision.
If you have been following the blog at www.visualpeacemakers.org you are probably aware of this idea, as they were the first place to write about The ONE-SHOT Project. In fact, this project wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for the inspiration coming from those guys. Back at the beginning of this year I was chatting with Mario Mattei and Matt Brandon about an idea they had for a project like this, but in another part of the world. They were talking about donations of cameras and gear in general, in order to provide a group of children with the wonderful gift of learning photography and visual arts. At that time my family and I were looking for an opportunity to develop a similar idea with the children in Iraq, specially the ones marginalized from the local society. So as you can see, it was a perfect match.
So what’s the idea behind this project? “ONE-SHOT is a project created for economically, physically, and socially disadvantaged 10 to 17- year-old Iraqi adolescents that are living in unfavorable conditions, without an opportunity for a decent life. At the same time, The ONE-SHOT Project is an initiative designed to create new visual communicators devoted to peacemaking and breaking down stereotypes by displaying the beauty and dignity of Iraqi cultures.” If you are interested in finding more about “Our Mission” you can clic at that link.
Now I want to share some thoughts I had back at the launch of ONE-SHOT’s website. This is so you can better understand our heart and possibilities for this project.
Don’t forget to check the blog at ONE-SHOT as we have some important updates coming. Also, you will find social media links to follow the progress of this project. Finally, you’ll find a link where you will see ways to Get Involved with ONE-SHOT.
Something that you’ve probably been wondering about is, what about the children who will be selected to be part of this program. Who are they? How are you going to select them? Who is going to select them? The truth is, I’m wondering about the answers to some of those questions myself.
It’s not that we don’t have a clue about how this is going to happen, it’s just that we haven’t started yet, and we’ll probably have to wait until the beginning of next year to really do this part of the project. The question is, what are we going to be doing in the next few months then? Well, first of all, we are planning to work on the ideas that we already have for this project. Let’s see, the team members behind ONE-SHOT have been here since 2003 doing humanitarian projects, so by now we know a couple of things about Iraq and the needs of its people. Still, we have to explore the different angles that this project has.
The one thing that’s very clear for us, and also the reason behind our name, is to be able to provide one shot, one opportunity, one chance for Iraqi children who are struggling with just living. Throughout this project we hope to find the children that haven’t been found by other initiatives, that haven’t been helped by the system, the ones left behind. The case of the “untouchables” in several places around the globe is well known. Some people here are just that; people with the same desires that every human being has. We believe that there are children in Iraq that are not being given the same opportunities as the normal children in the rest of the country. These are the best candidates to be part of this initiative.
When Mario Mattei from IGVP proposed this project for us to do in Iraq, we thought about teaching visual arts to normal Iraqi adolescents, giving them the opportunity to be exposed to the wonderful profession that photography is. But that didn’t totally satisfy my heart. You see, for years I have been wondering about those without privilege in this part of the world; those who are part of our society, yet not. I think in this case, ONE-SHOT is going to be an act of redemption from our “norms” to the underprivileged children of the world. What if one of these children receives a normal education? What if they are exposed to art? What if people care about them? What if they receive an unexpected gift, a heavenly opportunity to improve, to get out… these are some of the things that I’m wondering, but with the certainty that our project will work!
Why? How do I know this will work? Because we have nothing to lose! When you are at this stage in life, then there’s only one thing that can happen, and that is to win, to stand up, to progress; you got my idea, and probably you have been there as well.
During the past years in Iraq, there are groups of children that we have seen who live in adverse conditions. We have been in refugee camps, with dozens of children not attending school, among other things, with no other expectation than to receive help. We’ve seen children living in poverty, again, with no other expectations than just to have something to eat the next day. Lately, we have been exposed to the reality of big communities living in violence, with clans and gangs killing each other, raping, and other criminal things. What about the children there? Are we going to watch this happen on the news? Let them grow and become the next in the line? We have also been exposed to children with physical disabilities, some of them are not able to talk, or move, but, are they not worthy to try photography? Can they not communicate by images? They are mentally OK, so why are they being treated as if they can’t? They definitely need a chance! We have worked a couple of times during the past few years with the only group of orphans that we have in this area. They are just incredible! I have the best memories from playing with them in our past programs, and I told them I was going to look for ways to help them in the future. Well, here we are in the future. This group has no family, in part because of the years of war and suffering in this country. What if, some people in a different part of the world started a project to help these groups? What if we give them tools to live decent lives?
Are you excited? I am! I just want to start soon, but I know we have to wait until we have gathered the resources to do this well. First, we need the tools (cameras), and then, the most difficult part, select the kids that are going to be part of our first year, the first stage of ONE-SHOT. I hope to have you around during the next few months. We’ll be sharing all the info that we’ll find, including the advances and challenges. Help us in whatever manner you can by occasionally checking out this page. Let the children of this project surprise us! Let them teach us one more time that we are still human, that we have the power to love and to provide redemption to certain unjust situations in this fallen world.
Heber Vega, founder and director of ONE-SHOT.