Explore by Light by Tim Aikman

With an active interest in returning to Uganda, I often find myself being asked why I want to go – a question which seems to be asked with scepticism and curiosity!  Although my previous reasons have been for either tourism or work, with the touristic element thus far has been for the wildlife and with previous work being aimed towards conservation, I have been increasingly interested in the people I encounter.
This being said, when I was recently asked to explain what I am going to be doing during the forthcoming “expedition”, which has been given the name Explore by Light: Uganda, I was left with another question of wondering just how can I answer in a manner which is both informative and succinct.

Tim Aikman

The shortest explanation which I can give, is to say that I am working in collaboration with Capstone Projects, which is an established NGO in Lugazi, Uganda, who will (for want of a better word) act as my host.  The purpose of which is simple – access!
The access which I am seeking will enable me to meet, work and communicate with people in a manner which I may not otherwise be able to do.  After all, one thing which I want to avoid is the “hapless tourist routine” of turning-up and thinking oh! That’ll make a nice photo…
The work which Capstone Projects undertake, involves the provision of education, medical facilities, skills training, economic empowerment and a coffee plantation!   The access which I will gain will not just be to the buildings, but to the people who are associated with this NGO – and the community in which it operates.  By taking the time to live, work and converse with this community it is my intention to achieve an understanding and appreciation of the community I find which I may not otherwise obtain.
As a photographer the people I meet during this project, I’d like to regard as participants and not just subjects; it is my intention to obtain so much more than just a collection of photos.  I’m sure that a lot of you have heard of the phrase “A photograph is worth a thousand words” and I believe that it is a great photograph which inspires a story to be told.
But Capstone Projects (www.capstoneprojects.org.uk) is not the only organisation involved – working with MAKLAB (www.maklab.co.uk) the possibility of providing a wind turbine to Capstone Projects is being explored.  Susan Brown of Manchester University is working on Sustainability education – a term which refers to a number of loosely analogous terms which include Education for Sustainability (ES) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
There is (of course!) Ragged University, an organisation the project is collaborating with as it enables two links of the chain to be brought to this project.  The first of which is the precept that we are participants and not just subjects.  In planning this project – are there any topics about Uganda and/or photography which you believe could be discussed and therefore influence the expedition.  What would you like to learn?  Are there questions you’d like to ask?  The second link is the collaboration with the exhibition which will be held upon my return…