Ten finalists selected
July 2005 - The photo competition initiated by UNICEF South Africa in cooperation with the German National Committee and its partner Fujifilm, organised for 4,000 children in three school districts in the Eastern Cape, one of the poorest provinces of South Africa is drawing to a close with the selection of ten finalists.
The Mbizane district is some 7 hours travel away from the nearest city, East London, the capital of the province. To get there, a local coordinator travelled up to 2 hours on horseback to reach the school in Ebaleni village, as there are no roads.
The lives of students in schools like Ebaleni and many others in rural Eastern Cape are very different from city life. Children normally have to wake up around 4am to start their daily walk to school at 5 o’clock. It can take them about 2 hours to reach their generally overcrowded and under-resourced schools.
One urban school district
According to the East London District Director of Special Programmes, Gender, Youth and Disability, Thami Nxelelo: “The competition raised self esteem among the young participants, fostered new skills and gave children new perspectives on their lives and communities through the lens of a camera. For many, it was their first opportunity to participate in a project like this. I was happy to see that girls, who are often excluded from projects like this, were included. Though some found it difficult to use cameras, their self confidence grew as they immersed themselves in the project.”
Children agreed with that assessment. “When are you going to come back, we want to do this again?” said one eager contestant.