NYU Prison Education Program Celebrates First Graduation by Kate Lord

In my new role as a photographer for NYU, I had the opportunity to capture the very first graduation of the NYU Prison Education Program. I truly admire the hard work and dedication of these students and the staff and faculty who have put this program together!

My heart hurts. by Kate Lord

Never_Stop_Believing_HRC.jpg

My heart hurts.

What do we do now? We support those marginalized by this election in every way we can. Here's a list of organizations for which we should all donate our time and money:

RAINN: RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.

ACLU: For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.

NAACP: Our mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination. 

Define American: Define American is a nonprofit media and culture organization that uses the power of story to transcend politics and shift the conversation about immigrants, identity, and citizenship in a changing America.

Muslim American Society: The primary purpose of our Public Affairs and Civic Engagement program is to conduct public relations, educate and mobilize the American Muslim community to participate in public affairs and civic activities on a non-partisan bases, and to energize a new generation of community activists.

GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBT acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love.

Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund: TLDEF is committed to ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy efforts.

Southern Poverty Law Center: We monitor hate groups and other extremists throughout the United States and expose their activities to the public, the media and law enforcement. 

Stand with Standing Rock: The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of tribes, allies and people from all walks of life standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

UNHCR: USA for UNHCR helps to save, protect and rebuild the lives of millions of refugees and others forced to flee their homes due to violence and conflict.

International Rescue Committee: The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises and helps people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover, and gain control of their future. 

Refugee Transitions: Refugee Transitions is a community-based nonprofit agency serving high-need, low-income refugee, asylee, and immigrant newcomers from over 50 countries. 

Please take the time to look at your local organizations that are confronting the issues this election has dragged into the light.

"When they go low, we go high." - Michelle Obama

Hugs.

#imSTILLwithher

Dorm in the Andes Enables Girls to Attend School by Kate Lord

Visual Storytelling to Build Your Brand - via Forbes! by Kate Lord

Let your impact speak for itself. Video and photography are very powerful mediums for this. Photojournalism has been critical to She’s the First. I can’t imagine where the organization would be without Kate Lord, the humanitarian journalist who has captured our Scholars’ smiles and stories through her lens.
— - Tammy Tibbetts, Founder & CEO of She's the First

When Tammy Tibbetts, the founder and CEO of my client She's the First, was interviewed by Forbes about how the organization built her brand, she mentioned my storytelling as a key step! Read the full article here.

Inclusive Storytelling: How to Include Beneficiaries in the Filmmaking Process by Kate Lord

It just goes back to the basic idea of an NGO or a nonprofit– you go to the community and ask the community what they need. What does the community need? In this case, the person that you are creating a film about – what does she need and what story does she need to tell?

I was recently featured on NGO Storytelling's Ethics series! We discussed my inclusive filmmaking process, in which I work closely with the subjects of my films from development through post-production. This process allows people to take ownership of their own stories and to create powerful films of which they are proud. Read the interview on NGO Storytelling's blog.

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Launches New Video by Kate Lord

Last year, my friend Brianne Riviello called to talk about a project she was working on via Viacom Talent for Good and asked me to be the director of photography. With Michelle McLaughlin, Brianne was directing and producing a promotional video for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Name Change Project. I'm so pleased to share the final story here. The Name Change Project pairs pro bono lawyers with transgender individuals attempting to navigate the legal system to change their names to match their true identities. This process is much more complicated than changing your name after marriage and can often lead to embarrassing and discouraging exchanges; with the help of TLDEF, clients receive respectful and knowledgeable legal guidance through the proceedings.

When your legal name does not match your identity, daily tasks can easily become daunting and humiliating, from getting a new driver's license, looking for a job, going to the dentist, or even raising your hand in class to be marked present. TLDEF is working to change that.

Kricket, Athena, Naz, Mike, Cecilia: thank you for sharing your stories and being a part of this project!

Take a look, share! And learn more: www.transgenderlegal.org/namechange

'Save Renewal Farm' Campaign Suceeds by Kate Lord

Renewal Farm, a unique substance abuse program set on a farm in Upstate New York, helps long-term drug users with histories of chronic homelessness and unemployment renew their lives. It is twice as successful as similar programs. But, due to federal funding cuts, Renewal Farm was at risk of closing if they didn't raise $150,000 by December 31, 2015.

It is set in a special sanctuary in Garrison, New York, far from the neighborhoods and people that enable drug use. The natural beauty of the setting -- along with integrated drug treatment and critical reentry services like job training, job placement and housing assistance -- inspires change.

Thirty-three-year-old James from Elmhurst Queens, who had a serious alcohol and prescription pain killer addiction, lost his job in 2011, and was cut off by his family. James joined Renewal Farm in July 2015, committed to a better life for him and his son. “I have been to lots of treatment programs and sober houses, but none of them are like the Farm,” says James. “The Farm provides a very safe environment and staying here gives me the time I need to work on myself,” he says.

After a successful crowd-funding campaign, Renewal Farm raised more than their goal and will remain open for another year. They are currently looking for long-term funding.

Back to School After Ebola by Kate Lord

I traveled with She's the First to visit their new partner in Sierra Leone over Thanksgiving, 2015. Following the Ebola Crisis—as the nation rebuilds and moves forward—She's the First is proud to support our newest partner, the Child Welfare Society. The organization is based in Freetown and works across the country to provide girls with access to quality education as well as a support system that includes mentors who help them reach their graduation day.

I'm working with She's the First (STF) to raise the annual tuition for our first 10 Scholars in Sierra Leone. STF allocates 100% of all contributions designated to our Scholarship Fund to our partner schools to support the education of girls around the world. Every penny of your gift that we receive will go to an STF Scholar.

Pursuing Dreams: Stories of Refugee and Immigrant Youth in California by Kate Lord

I'm thrilled to finally share my latest short film, Pursuing Dreams, produced with Refugee Transitions. I spent two weeks with Jyoti, Fatuma, and Win, three students who immigrated to the U.S. with their families from Bhutan, Somalia, and Burma (Myanmar), and now call Oakland, CA, home.

Refugee Transitions is a community-based nonprofit agency serving high-need, low-income refugee, asylee, and immigrant newcomers from over 50 countries in the Bay Area.

Now more than ever, it's important to get to know our newcomers and welcome them to our country. These students are AMAZING and are working hard to make their communities stronger. It was a privilege to help them tell their stories.

Kopila Valley School in Nepal by Kate Lord

Kopila Valley School in Surkhet, Nepal, opened its doors in 2010 to underserved children; in a country with a 66% literacy rate, in a region with 80% unemployment, these children need quality education more than anything. 

I was sent to Nepal by Kopila's partner She's the First, a nonprofit that provides scholarships for more than 90 girls at the school! 11% of Nepal's population is married by the age of 14, so girl's education is more important than ever as it's proven to delay marriage, which decreases HIV rates, improves maternal health, and decreases suicide rates in young women. 

Two She's the First Scholars at Kopila Valley organized a 5K, The Race for Equality, to raise awareness of women's issues in their town. Watch a short video about their experience here!

The Race for Equality by Kate Lord

Their goals were simple: to raise awareness about the status of women in Nepal and to help empower women in their community, all while having fun. She's the First Scholars Jharana and Sirjana gathered their classmates to organize the first-ever 5K race in their district, in hopes of attracting eyes and ears to the cause of women's equality.

To see this video with captions, click here: vimeo.com/shesthefirst/raceforequality-captioned

I created this film in collaboration with Christen Brandt, co-founder and director of international operations for STF, to celebrate the hard work of Jharana and Sirjana, and to support the organization's Sweat for STFcampaign. The annual fitness campaign encourages supporters to mobilize or participate in a race or other fitness activity to fundraise for girls' scholarships.

Focused by Kate Lord

Have you ever woken up with a business idea that you just knew would change everything? Fatou has.

This is her story – the story of what happens when you give a student the skills she needs in order to achieve her most audacious goals.

I co-directed this film with She's the First co-founder and director of international operations Christen Brandt, and I was also the director of photography. Fatou graduated high school as a She's the First Scholar in The Gambia.

Gala Videos for Girl Scouts of Greater New York by Kate Lord

The Girl Scouts of Greater New York celebrated their 101st anniversary this spring. For their annual gala, I created five videos introducing their honorees and featuring different aspects of the Girl Scout program. As an alumni of the Girl Scouts, it was really fun to meet the girls and hear about what they're learning!

This video features Dayle Haddon, founder of the nonprofit WomenOne and a former model. WomenOne is devoted to creating positive change in the lives of women and girls globally through access to quality education. Working with Ms. Haddon was a joy, not only because of my personal interest in global girls' education, but because she had such a wonderful connection with the girls! They all loved her and really took her talk to heart. Check it out below!

View four more videos I created for the Girl Scouts of Greater New York on their YouTube page.

She's the First in Africa, Part 4: Ethiopia by Kate Lord

This post is part of a four-part series about traveling to East Africa this fall with She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education worldwide. I traveled for six weeks with STF's Co-Founder and Director of International Operations Christen Brandt and documented the girls' lives at school and at home in still photos and video.

  • Read Part 1 in the series, about my experience in Tanzania, here
  • Read Part 2 in the series, about my experience in Kenya, here.
  • Read Part 3 in the series, about my experience in Uganda, here.

Sintayehu, center, an 18-year-old who has lived with the Selamta Family Project since she was 12, plays a game with her biological sister Senayet, left, and her Selamta brother Dagim, at their home in an Addis suburb.

On the day I leave with She's the First to visit their partner in The Gambia, I'm finally blogging about the final leg of our trip last fall to East Africa! I promise to be better about blogging this trip more immediately!

The final stop of my six week trip with She's the First last fall was to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to visit STF's partner, the Selamta Family Project. Selamta is a nonprofit organization that creates permanent family units for orphans in AIDS-ravaged communities. The organization finds children living on the streets, reunites them with biological siblings, and creates a new family unit around them, with a house mother, an "auntie," and up to 9 siblings. No one ages out of Selamta; the families built here are meant to continue to support one another, beyond graduation and throughout adulthood.

The children all attend a local private school near the neighborhood where they all live.

The Selamta family at Bishingiri house, one of eleven Selamta families. Each house is named for a significant person or place in Ethiopia.

Tizita poses in her home at Gondar house.

I had an amazing time getting to know the She's the First Scholars in Ethiopia. Tizita, above, is a delightfully sassy eighth grader who let us follow her around with a video camera at home and at school, and visited the National Museum with us in Addis (she'd never been either!) It's so much more fun to visit a museum with a student; she was interested in EVERYTHING and had learned about some of the exhibits in school!

She's also the star of the independent film Difret, by an Ethiopian filmmaker, filmed in Addis. The movie was a screened at the Sundance Film Festival! I can't wait to check it out when it makes it to New York.

She's the First Scholar Emuye, right, and her Selamta brother Abel. Emuye is sponsored through She's the First by Wild Sister Magazine, from whom I won a grant that helped fund my travel for this trip.

Boys from the Gondar house play soccer in their courtyard. 

A horse and buggy travels through the suburban neighborhood where the families live near Addis.

Visiting each house and having dinner with our students was an amazing experience. In each house, we went through a traditional coffee ceremony (below). Coffee originated in Ethiopia and still grows there in the wild. Each family has a special pot and small coal stove for coffee roasting and brewing. The house mom roasts the beans, then one of the kids grinds the beans with a mortar and pestle, then the mom brews the coffee over the hot coals. These families live in modern suburban homes; if they wanted to, they could brew coffee in an electronic kettle or in a french press, but the tradition of the ceremony calls for this method (plus, it's way more delicious this way!)

The house cat prowls while Ras Dashen's house mom makes afternoon coffee.

Emuye grinds roasted coffee beans in the traditional fashion, with a mortar and pestle. 

Emuye grinds roasted coffee beans in the traditional fashion, with a mortar and pestle. 

Roasting coffee beans during the daily coffee ceremony.

Dagim takes a picture as his biological mother and house mother prepares an afternoon snack for all of the kids. The house mothers come to Selamta with their own biological children, blending them into their new family.

Tigist helps care for a neighbors' children after school. 

The Scholar that I spent the most time with was Sintayehu, an 18-year-old student who has lived with Selamta since she was 12. She took us back to where she was living before she came to Selamta; I did a photo essay about the experience for She's the First. After Sintayehu became part of a Selamta family with her younger brother, the organization sought out their younger sister, Senayet, and brought her to Selamta as well so the siblings could all grow up together.

Mama Turuye, a friend of Sintayehu’s grandmother, walks with Sintayehu in the impoverished area where she was living before Selamta.

Sintayehu, center, giggles with a friend during Physics class. Each child in the Selamta project is enrolled in a private school a short walk from the neighborhood where they live.

Selamta provides a stable home environment and the support of a family and a mentorship organization, as well as quality education, to orphans who would otherwise be living on their own, often separated from their siblings. After visiting Selamta, I'm hopeful that similar family-oriented organizations will be formed in other developing areas.

To see more of my work for She's the First in Ethiopia, visit their Flickr page.

Read more:

She's the First in East Africa, Part 3: Uganda by Kate Lord

This post is part of a four-part series about traveling to East Africa this fall with She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education worldwide. I traveled for six weeks with STF's Co-Founder and Director of International Operations Christen Brandt and documented the girls' lives at school and at home in still photos and video.

  • Read Part 1 in the series, about my experience in Tanzania, here
  • Read Part 2 in the series, about my experience in Kenya, here.
  • Read Part 4 in the series, about my experience in Ethiopia, here.

Rose, center, and other She's the First Scholars play a stretching game.

After a twelve-hour overnight bus ride crossing the border from Kenya to Uganda, then another hour car ride to the Bududa district from Mbale, Christen and I were pretty exhausted... until we got to go to visit She's the First Scholars at school! 

The whole school welcomed us with a song-and-dance assembly! These primary students are super talented, and it was the best possible way to be introduced to the school.

Arlington Academy of Hope, She's the First's Uganda partner school!

Arlington Academy of Hope is She's the First's partner in Uganda. The primary school is dedicated to raising the quality of education in the region, thus transforming the area into a self-sustaining community. In Uganda, 65% of the population lives on less than $2 per day, according to UNESCO. Educating girls and enabling their participation in the workforce substantially raises a country's GDP.

Once the kids reach secondary school, the organization finds boarding programs for them around the country. She's the First sponsors the education of 45 girls with Arlington Academy of Hope! Most of the girls are still in primary school, but some have moved onto secondary school and are working toward their high school diplomas.

Jesca presents in her P3 (third grade) class.

Joan, a P3 student, takes notes during English class.

Muddy boots lined up outside a classroom.

We arrived in the middle of rainy season and the region is covered in red clay - which makes climbing up a mountain path difficult! Most of the kids have rain boots, but some of them walk barefoot to keep their school shoes clean. It was about a 30 minute walk up the slippery mountainside to school from the guest house where we were staying, and further up to some of the girls' homes. One particular trek to visit Betty's family (below) took us about an hour-and-a-half past the school up the mountain. Huffing and puffing, we would occasionally ask the nonplussed Betty, "How much further?," and she'd say, "Not far!" She walks this path everyday to and from school, leaving very early in the morning to make it on time.

Betty (center back in blue shirt) and her family outside their home.

One of our major goals for the trip was to film segments for a promotional video for She's the First's Run the World campaign. Sixth-grade student Mercy, below, was one of the stars of our film and she's an AMAZING athlete. A behind-the-scenes blogpost is coming soon!

Mercy running in the area around her home.

Mercy shows off some of her medals won in track competitions.

An important aspect of the Arlington Academy of Hope, as well as all of the partner programs of She's the First, is the role parents play. All of the partners require that parents be involved in their daughters' education. Sixth-grader Bess's dad and step-mom, below, are a great example of involved parents who want their daughter to succeed. Look at those amazing smiles!

Bess, center, is in sixth grade. Here, she poses with her step-mom and dad outside their home.

I've now visited six of She's the First's partner organizations, but Arlington has the largest group of She's the First Scholars that I've met. It was so exciting to see 35 of them together (ten young women are in secondary school, and we visited them at different boarding schools around Uganda). 

The students put on a goodbye assembly for us as well, which brought us all to tears. I miss these girls so much, and I hope I can go visit them again in the next few years and see them in secondary school!

Thirty-five She's the First Scholars mug for the camera!

Keeping Pace with Amy Dixon, Blind Triathlete & Sommelier by Kate Lord

In the last month of 2013, I was assigned my favorite editorial shoot of the year. For The Wall Street Journal, I spent a day with Amy Dixon, a visually impaired sommelier and triathlete; Lettie Teague wrote a great column about Amy's career as a retail wine consultant in Connecticut.

Amy is training for several championship competitions next year, including the USA Paratriathlon National Championship and the PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships. Points from these races could qualify her to represent the US in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio! Follow her progress on her blog, The Blind Sommelier.

Amy Dixon, a visually impaired sommelier and triathlete, puts on her swim cap before a light swim workout at the YMCA at Greenwich in Greenwich, Connecticut, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Her Guiding Eyes for the Blind guide dog Elvis stays close by.

Amy gets kisses from her guide dog Elvis.

Amy changes to bike gear for the next portion of her workout. 

Amy trains on the bike. During each of her workouts, she trains for two of the three portions of the triathlon. In actual competition, she'll complete a 750m swim, a20k bike race, and a 5k run.

Amy tests wines at Nicholas Roberts Fine Wines in Darien, Connecticut, where she works regularly. When a sommelier smells a wine, she's looking for flaws, said Dixon. "You're looking for what makes the wine tick," she said.

Amy has memorized where certain bottles are stored at the shop. She is planning to open a wine bar in Connecticut, but is still looking for the location. The bar will be called The Wine Lab, inspired by Elvis and her early training as a pharmacy student.

Amy has memorized where certain bottles are stored at the shop. She is planning to open a wine bar in Connecticut, but is still looking for the location. The bar will be called The Wine Lab, inspired by Elvis and her early training as a pharmacy student.

2013 in Review by Kate Lord

2013 was a truly significant year for my business, and for me personally. This year, I took a giant leap and left my job as a photo editor at The Wall Street Journal to follow my dream of telling positive and uplifting stories full-time. I traveled to Africa for the first time with She's the First, the nonprofit closest to my heart. I was chosen as the Wild Sister of the Year. I continued to shoot for The Wall Street Journal as a freelancer. My short film was chosen for three film festivals. I started working with exciting new clients. And I got engaged to my best friend!

I've been surrounded by such supportive friends and family, been boosted by my freelance community, and received so much positivity from my clients. THANK YOU to everyone who has helped and rallied for me this year. I can't wait to tell more stories of inspiring people in 2014!

Magho (Daughter), the short film I shot and co-directed with Christen Brandt, premiered in NYC on March 21. The film was presented by She's the First. It's since been accepted to three film festivals. We'll be releasing the film to the public in 2014!

Aditi dances at her Raas Garba in Princeton, NJ in May.

created my second gala video for Coro New York Leadership Center in May, celebrating the impact the organization has on the city.

Charity listens to her mentor during Kisa class in Tanzania. Charity is a She's the First Scholar; I traveled with She's the First to East Africa in September and October to document the lives of their students.

Eli is a She's the First Scholar and recent high school graduate; she hopes to attend college in the US! We shot a video profile of Eli which will be released early 2014; stay tuned!

We made a quick safari stop in Tanzania - so beautiful!

Vianca, left, makes "angry kitten faces" with her fellow first-graders at the Kibera School for Girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Vianca is also a She's the First Scholar.

Jesca, a She's the First Scholar and third-grader at Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda, presents to her class. 

Arlington Academy of Hope in Uganda is a partner of She's the First.

Bess, a She's the First Scholar in Eastern Uganda, with her step-mom and dad. She has the brightest and best smile I've ever seen!!

In Ethiopia, I met Sintayehu, an incredibly inspiring 18-year-old who lives and studies with the Selamta Family Project, and is a She's the First Scholar. 

Emuye (right), a She's the First Scholar, poses with her house brother in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Amateur boxers Christina Nicodema v. Stephanie Kent duke it out on Nov. 14 in NYC for Haymakers for Hope, a nonprofit that raises funding for cancer research. 

I was chosen to shoot the 2013 New York Community Trust-New York Magazine Nonprofit Excellence Awards in November. The Children's Village, a nonprofit that supports vulnerable children and their families, won top honors.

My friend Rachel Hofstetter launched her book, "Cooking Up a Business: Lessons from Food Lovers Who Turned Their Passion into a Career -- and How You Can, Too."

I met some amazing ladies (and gents!) this year shooting head shots!

Amy Dixon, a visually impaired sommelier and triathlete, gets kisses from her guide dog Elvis at the YMCA at Greenwich in Connecticut in December. This was my favorite freelance editorial assignment of the year, shot for The Wall Street Journal; Amy is training for several championship competitions next year, including the USA Paratriathlon National Championship and the PATCO Triathlon Pan American Championships.

Happy New Year! Bring on a bright 2014!

She's the First in East Africa, Part 2: Kenya by Kate Lord

This post is part of a four-part series about traveling to East Africa this fall with She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls' education worldwide. I traveled for six weeks with STF's Co-Founder and Director of International Operations Christen Brandt and documented the girls' lives at school and at home in still photos and video.

  • Read Part 1 in the series, about my experience in Tanzania, here.
  • Read Part 3 in the series, about my experience in Uganda, here.
  • Read Part 4 in the series, about my experience in Ethiopia, here.

Makesh, Sumaya, Mbithe and Vianca pose with the "#1" sign, a symbol of She's the First.

We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, by minibus from Arusha, Tanzania. We quickly learned that Nairobi is a city of contrasts; surrounding the city are mansions and gated communities, but Nairobi is also the home of Kibera, one of Africa's largest slums. Walking through Kibera, I'd see men and women in perfectly ironed suits headed out to work in downtown Nairobi. Many people have jobs, but affordable housing is so scarce that they must continue to live in the slum.

Kibera is the size of a small city and runs like one -- there are shops, homes and butcher shops, and the alleyways are full of neighbors greeting one another or rushing off to work. But the buildings are made mostly of scrap materials and there are no formal systems for sanitation and few sources of clean water; STF's partner, Shining Hope for Comunities, not only provides education for girls, but also has community programs like an inexpensive clean water well and a free clinic. According to SHOFCO, only 8% of girls in Kibera ever have the chance to go to school. The organization's Kibera School for Girls is the first tuition-free school for girls in Kibera.

 

The view from the school's rooftop playground

The Kibera School for Girls

Vianca, left, and her classmates make "growling kitten" faces. TOO CUTE!

She's the First currently sponsors four girls at the school and they are SO ADORABLE. The youngest, Vianca, is in P1 and the oldest, Makesh, is in P4. All four were champs on camera, and were so eager to show me and Christen they're awesome playground, which is made from recycled materials!

Girls play on the see-saw during recess

Vianca rides the slide with her friends

Vianca rides the slide with her friends

Sumaya strikes a pose

Makesh poses post-interview (she'll be in two of She's the First's upcoming promo videos!)

Mbithe smiles with her mom, a volunteer at the school

Vianca lines up to head back to class

Our experiences visiting the girls in their classrooms are best summed up by Christen's post on She's the First's blog:

We were able to sit in on a few classes, as well, and let me tell you: These girls are smart. They took a few minutes to help us with our Swahili (see below for a new word they taught us!), and each class had a million questions for us — even the Pre-K! One third-grade student’s question was, “What are your thoughts on the girl-child?” That, of course, immediately prompted a class discussion about how they were learning to be responsible leaders and would one day take over the world. Their teacher asked only that they give her a ride whenever they see her walking by the side of the road; I asked that they keep me employed.

Makesh in class

Sumaya reads aloud

Vianca concentrates on her ABCs

We had so much fun getting to know these little ones! Check back this Spring for videos featuring these four awesome girls!

Clockwise, from top: me, Makesh, Vianca, Christen, Mbithe and Sumaya

Amateur Boxers Duke It Out for Cancer Research by Kate Lord

Haymakers for Hope is a nonprofit organization that hosts amateur boxing events to raise money and awareness for cancer research -- in the past four years, they've raised more than a million dollars for cancer research! They held their annual New York City event at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Nov. 14, 2013, and I had an awesome time capturing the fights.

 Cancer survivors acted as the night's ring girls, announcing each round. 

Haymakers for Hope at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Nov. 14, 2013.
 Fight 13: Scott Bruckmann v. Salah Zalatimo

Haymakers for Hope at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Nov. 14, 2013.
 Fight 2: Raquel Cepeda v. Macy Tanking

Haymakers for Hope at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Nov. 14, 2013.
 Fight 5: Stuart Goldfarb v. Steve Reynolds

Haymakers for Hope at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Nov. 14, 2013.

She's the First in East Africa, Part 1: Tanzania by Kate Lord

Clockwise from top left: Evalyne, Emuye, Bess, Makesh, Tsion, Mbithe, Magdalene and Winnie.

In September and October of this year, I had the amazing opportunity to spend six weeks traveling around East Africa and Ethiopia for my favorite nonprofit, She's the First. STF sponsors girls’ education in developing nations, giving them the
 chance to become the first in their families to graduate from secondary school. This was my third trip with STF's Co-Founder and Director of International Operations Christen Brandt to visit and document the organization's partner programs abroad. (We previously traveled to Guatemala and India together).

I had four main goals for this trip: shooting portraits of the 86 She's the First scholars we would meet over a month and a half, documenting the girls' lives in still photos at school and at home, shooting video profiles of several of the girls, and shooting two promotional videos for upcoming campaigns.  

I was working for six weeks, and there are so many photos and stories I want to share! I'm dividing the trip into four blogposts, one for each country we visited. 

Tanzania

We started our trip in Tanzania, where She's the First partners with AfricAid's Kisa Project, a leadership program for girls in their final two years of high school.  

 

Recent high school graduates report on their community service projects at AfricAid's Kisa Project.

Recent high school graduates participate in an icebreaker at their final mentorship meeting with AfricAid's Kisa Project

All of the girls we met in Tanzania are determined to finish high school and go on to have a positive impact on their families and communities; some young women are planning on continuing their studies in university, while others will head out to find their first jobs.

One of the most inspiring young women I've met in any of my travels is a recent graduate of the Kisa Project. Eli lives with her mom in a rural area and had to quit school for a period because she lacked the money for school fees. She's overcome many obstacles, but has an amazingly bright outlook on life. I'm currently working on a video profile about her that She's the First will release next year, but this quote from Eli sums up her life view: 

Life is not the way you live, but the way you handle it.
— Eli, class of 2013

Eli outside the home where she lives with her mother.

Eli leads a Kisa class in an activity about creating goals and working towards them. 

Teaching mentors from AfricAid's Kisa Project how to improve their photography and video in Arusha, Tanzania. (Photo by Christen Brandt)

Teaching mentors from AfricAid's Kisa Project how to improve their photography and video in Arusha, Tanzania. (Photo by Christen Brandt)

The Kisa Project is so special because it recognizes the importance of strong female mentors in the lives of young women. The project has five full-time mentors who guide the girls through subjects including goal-setting, leadership training and computer skills. To help the mentors better document their work, I held a photography and video workshop with them. We worked on composition, lighting and storytelling over four hours in the Kisa office.

Monica photographs her fellow mentors during my photography workshop!

The young women I met in Tanzania are all so focused on their studies and their goals. Many of them live several hours away from their families in boarding schools because quality education for girls isn't available in their region. Yet every time I meet She's the First Scholars, whether in Guatemala or India or Tanzania, I'm reminded of what it was like to be in high school; these girls work hard on their studies, but also have friends and sports and hobbies. They love seeing their friends at school everyday, but are also excited about the next phase, be it college or getting a job and starting their careers.

Charity listens to her mentor during Kisa class. Charity is in her second-to-last year of high school.

Magdalene graduated high school in May 2013. 

Evalyne, 17, is a senior in high school who studies history, geography and language.

Flora, an 18-year-old high school senior, listens to her mentor during Kisa class. She wants to be a wildlife manager after graduation.