Still Images

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!

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

The Amazing Kids of Shanti Bhavan Children's Project by Kate Lord

Preetha, Pushpa, Jancy, me and Prathiba
Preetha, Pushpa, Jancy, me and Prathiba

I can't believe it's been almost a year since I traveled to India to shoot Magho (Daughter) at Shanti Bhavan Children's Project in Tamil Nadu, India! As this year's 12th-graders near graduation, I've been thinking a lot about them and their classmates. The children who attend Shanti Bhavan's residential school (a partner of She's the First) come from families in the dalit, or "untouchable," caste. Had they not been chosen at age four to attend the boarding school, their lives would have been very similar to those of their parents: little to no education, marrying early and having children, working difficult manual labor, and living in poverty. But their lives will be very different - Shanti Bhavan provides top quality education and all of their graduates have gone on to attend top colleges! Shanti Bhavan's goal is that these young people will use their education to change their families' lives and end the cycle of poverty. After getting to know these kids, I have no doubt they will accomplish whatever they choose!

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Prathiba: Prathiba will be graduating this June and is headed to college after scoring first class on her ISCE exams! She is HILARIOUS, curious and mischievous. I love when she's reacting to something ridiculous - she has the best scowl! Prathiba showed us all around SB and made us feel at home, even though we were only there for a few weeks. I am so proud of her and excited to hear about her transition to college life!

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Vincea: Vincea, also a 2013 grad, has an amazing voice and leads the school's choir. She loves Justin Bieber (as most of the kids do!) and sang a duet of "What Dreams are Made Of" during last year's graduation festivities. I can't wait to see the videos from this year's ceremony to see what she performs!

Preetha
Preetha

Preetha: Preetha is completely delightful! She has an amazing voice (she sang Adele’s “Someone Like You” and blew me away!) and is also an athlete and artist - those photos of my henna? She did it for me :) Preetha is going into 11th grade this year.

Jancy getting ready for graduation with the help of an auntie.
Jancy getting ready for graduation with the help of an auntie.

Jancy: Jancy was the first girl that She's the First sponsored as an organization, so I was so excited to finally meet her in person! She has since gone on to college and is doing really well. Jancy has the most amazing facial expressions - she cannot hide what she's thinking and her look of skepticism is hilarious! She's also an amazing artist - her eye for color and pattern is truly stellar. I hope she continues into fashion design, as has long been her dream -- she would create beautiful graphic prints for clothing!

Maheshwari
Maheshwari

Maheshwari: Maheshwari is the star of our short film, Magho (Daughter). We attended her graduation last year and spent time with her mother at home in her village. She has an amazing story and was so gracious to share it with us. Even though she was nervous, she was immediately comfortable giving us intimate answers to our questions. She's determined to become a cardiologist, or a biologist, and take her mother with her wherever she goes. She's currently studying biochemistry and genetics in college. I'm so proud of her and so honored to have been able to share her story.

Pushpa (center)
Pushpa (center)

Pushpa: Pushpa is gregarious and hilarious. She's a 2010 grad of SB who came back last year to help out at graduation. She's graduating college this year - and recently accepted a position at Goldman Sachs! One of the members of SB's first-ever graduating class, she and her classmates are setting an amazing precedent for the kids coming up after them; Shanti Bhavan is like a family and when the older students succeed, it has an incredible impact on the younger students.

This, of course, is just a handful of the incredible students I met last year -- they are all on my mind because graduation 2013 is upon us!

We're putting together DVDs and information packets for screenings of Magho this fall at our campus chapters and anywhere else that would like to share Maheshwari's amazing story. If you'd like to host a screening, please email me at kate@shesthefirst.org - 100% of the proceeds from your fundraiser will go to sponsor girls at Shanti Bhavan.

The First International Day of the Girl by Kate Lord

The United Nations declared October 11 the first International Day of the Girl, with a purpose “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.”

She's the First celebrated with a 48-hour leadership summit for our campus leaders, which included an assembly with the Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn, a reception with our most influential supporters, and activities from the Hearst Magazines & AOL Headquarters. Campus leaders from across the nation gathered for two days of activities and workshops planned for the students to bond with and learn from one another.

The Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn and She's the First celebrate the first United Nations' International Day of the Girl.
The Young Women's Leadership School of Brooklyn and She's the First celebrate the first United Nations' International Day of the Girl.
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She's the First campus leaders in Washington Square Park
She's the First campus leaders in Washington Square Park
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Summer Camp with The Young Women's Leadership Schools and She's the First! by Kate Lord

One of the exciting aspects of shooting with She's the First is the opportunity to work with young women domestically and abroad. Most of my STF work shared here are from projects about girls sponsored abroad (in Guatemala and India), but what makes STF unique is its two-fold empowerment programs here in the U.S. While providing the necessary guidance and support, She's the First encourages American students to create and implement their own fundraisers to sponsor the education of girls in the developing world. In the process, the Americans gain a better understanding of the complexities that lead to poverty and are empowered by knowing that they have the skills necessary to make a positive change in the world. This summer, STF worked with The Young Women's Leadership Schools in New York City, a network of public secondary schools for young women from low-income backgrounds that empowers them to break the cycle of poverty through education (a shared mission with STF!) Many of the girls who attend these schools will be first-generation high school graduates, like the girls STF supports in the developing world. She's the First lead a three-week "boot camp" on social media and completed the camp with a bead-making fundraiser to support a student in Uganda!

I had so much fun getting into the summer camp spirit - I can't wait to return to TYWLS next summer!

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Girls Who Rock 2012 by Kate Lord

Haley Reinhart
Haley Reinhart

GIRLS WHO ROCK is a benefit concert for She's the First, a nonprofit that sponsors girls education worldwide. Proceeds benefited girls from Shanti Bhavan Children's Project in India (where I'm going NEXT MONTH to film a documentary about one of our girls!) This year's concert was sponsored by Umojawa and was held at Gramercy Theater in New York, NY.

the pumped up audience!
the pumped up audience!
The Jane Doze
The Jane Doze
Jessica Latshaw
Jessica Latshaw
Shin-B
Shin-B
Haley Reinhart
Haley Reinhart

Daughters and Mothers by Kate Lord

'Daughters and Mothers' explores the emerging differences in the lives of indigenous Mayan young women and their mothers due to the teenagers' education. In a region of Guatemala where less than a third of the rural indigenous women are literate, this group of young women will be the first in their families to graduate high school.

Read More

GIRLS WHO ROCK 2011: A Benefit Concert for Girls Education by Kate Lord

I had a fantastic time shooting this year's line-up for GIRLS WHO ROCK, a benefit concert for She's the First. Proceeds from the event, headlined by JoJo, went to sponsor girls in Uganda at one of She's the First's partner schools, Arlington Academy of Hope. The event was held at Gramercy Theater on June 10.

JoJo brought down the house with her hits "Leave (Get Out)" and "Too Little Too Late." She also debuted the title track from her upcoming album, "Jumping Trains." Eddy brought Southern Rock to New York, while Nina Sky, who enlisted days before the concert via Twitter, had a huge following in their hometown.

Shooting for Non-Profits: Starfish One by One in Guatemala by Kate Lord

  As the photographer for She's the First, a not-for-profit that raises awareness about girls education and encourages young people to creatively fundraise to sponsor a girl in the developing world, I recently had the opportunity to visit one of our partner organizations in Guatemala. Starfish One by One works with indigenous Mayan girls in middle and high school by providing tuition costs and placing them in a unique mentorship program. Each girl is placed in a group of 15 and is lead by an indigenous Mayan mentor who has herself graduated high school and beyond. This support system encourages the girls to push beyond the education level that their families could have provided for them. Most of them will be the first in their families to graduate high school, many the first to be educated beyond the 6th grade.

I was asked by Starfish One by One to document one girl in particular - 18-year-old Francisca Chiviliu Quinac. In October, Francisca will be the first person in her family to graduate high school. Amid studying and attending her weekly mentoring sessions, Francisca helps her mother and little sister Brenda complete many chores around the house, from making 70 tortillas three times a day by hand to harvesting corn in the family's yard to washing clothes by hand. I've included a few preview photos from the project below, but will be producing a short photo/video documentary about her to be completed in the coming weeks -- come back to check it out!

I also had the opportunity to meet some of the other girls in the program and their mothers at their homes, and to attend a few of the mentoring programs. You can read more about my trip with She's the First on our blog and more about Starfish One by One on their website.

Francisca Chiviliu Quinac (right), 18, and her sister Brenda Leticia, 14, prepare dinner in their home in Santiago, Guatemala.
Francisca Chiviliu Quinac (right), 18, and her sister Brenda Leticia, 14, prepare dinner in their home in Santiago, Guatemala.
Freshly laundered items on the Quinac’s line.
Freshly laundered items on the Quinac’s line.
Francisca hand washes the family's laundry in their front yard.
Francisca hand washes the family's laundry in their front yard.
Francisca pulls the kernels off freshly picked corn from her family’s garden. The family dries the corn and takes it to the local mill. They use the resulting meal to make tortillas for the family.
Francisca pulls the kernels off freshly picked corn from her family’s garden. The family dries the corn and takes it to the local mill. They use the resulting meal to make tortillas for the family.
Francisca laughs as she works on embroidery outside her home.
Francisca laughs as she works on embroidery outside her home.
The Quinac family women: Brenda and Francisca live with their mother, Nicolasa Quinac Tacaxoy (center), and their father and brothers.
The Quinac family women: Brenda and Francisca live with their mother, Nicolasa Quinac Tacaxoy (center), and their father and brothers.
Francisca in her classroom. She will graduate high school in October, and will be the first person in her family to graduate high school.
Francisca in her classroom. She will graduate high school in October, and will be the first person in her family to graduate high school.
Ana Teresa Julujuj, 13, poses at her home in San Isidro, Guatemala. She’s starting the 7th grade and is further along in her education than anyone else in her family. Full disclosure: I am sponsoring her education, along with my She’s the First colleagues Christen Brandt and Maisy Page.
Ana Teresa Julujuj, 13, poses at her home in San Isidro, Guatemala. She’s starting the 7th grade and is further along in her education than anyone else in her family. Full disclosure: I am sponsoring her education, along with my She’s the First colleagues Christen Brandt and Maisy Page.
Step farming in San Isidro, Guatemala, near Ana Teresa's home.
Step farming in San Isidro, Guatemala, near Ana Teresa's home.
Lake Atitlan, the largest lake in Guatemala, is surrounded by three volcanoes. The communities in the area have been deeply affected by eruptions and mudslides.
Lake Atitlan, the largest lake in Guatemala, is surrounded by three volcanoes. The communities in the area have been deeply affected by eruptions and mudslides.
Elena Mendoza Ajtujal, 14, works on her beadwork during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Elena Mendoza Ajtujal, 14, works on her beadwork during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Irma Josefina Ajcalon Cota demonstrates traditional weaving during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Irma Josefina Ajcalon Cota demonstrates traditional weaving during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Irma Josefina Ajcalon Cota demonstrates traditional weaving during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Irma Josefina Ajcalon Cota demonstrates traditional weaving during a Starfish One by One mentoring session.
Claudia Nimacachi Lopez laughs with her friends while she weaves a huipil (traditional Mayan blouse) during a Starfish mentoring session. She said it will take her about a month to complete.
Claudia Nimacachi Lopez laughs with her friends while she weaves a huipil (traditional Mayan blouse) during a Starfish mentoring session. She said it will take her about a month to complete.
Claudia weaves a huipil (traditional Mayan blouse) during a Starfish mentoring session. She said it will take her about a month to complete.
Claudia weaves a huipil (traditional Mayan blouse) during a Starfish mentoring session. She said it will take her about a month to complete.
Girls from the Starfish One by One “pioneer group” (the first mentoring group the organization put together) laugh and show one another the weavings on which they are working.
Girls from the Starfish One by One “pioneer group” (the first mentoring group the organization put together) laugh and show one another the weavings on which they are working.

Inauguration weekend by Kate Lord

crowd

On the eve of President Barack Obama's inauguration, crowds gathered in the National Mall to check out the scene.

Texans for Obama

A Texan woman wears a "Texans for Obama" bumper sticker on the back of her winter coat in the National Mall Monday, January 19.

Street Vendor

A street vendor warms his hands as a large group descends on his Obama merchandise on the eve of Barack Obama's inauguration.

Gallery Place-Chinatown

Cambrea Sturgis, 9, of Kannapolis, N.C. stands in the crowd waiting to push out of the Gallery Place - Chinatown metro stop in Washington Tuesday, Jan. 20. The D.C. metro system saw record crowds on inauguration day.

Indiana Avenue checkpoint

A panoramic image of the crowd locked outside of the National Mall at a checkpoint on Indiana Avenue on inauguration day.

Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller, a teacher from Texas, listens to a radio broadcast of President Barack Obama's inaugural speech and recites it aloud for the large crowd at the Indiana Avenue checkpoint to hear. The crowd, which waited 4 hours in the cold and didn't make it inside the checkpoint in time to hear Obama's speech, stood quietly and listened to Miller recite.

Joyce Miller

Joyce Miller celebrates after President Barack Obama finished his speech.

Metro Center

Tuesday night, long after the hub-bub of the inauguration was over, the Metro Center metro stop was not crowded at all.

Photo Published: 'China, Tibet, and the Strategic Power of Water' by Kate Lord

A number of influential scientists and experts in Asian studies now say that control and management of an even more vital resource – the Tibetan Plateau’s vast supply of fresh water – is also emerging at the center of the increasingly tense political and cultural strife between China and Tibet.
— Circle of Blue
Yamdrok Lake, located approximately 90 kilometers southwest of Lhasa, is the largest freshwater lake in southern Tibet and, through man-made tunnels, feeds the Tsangpo River.

Yamdrok Lake, located approximately 90 kilometers southwest of Lhasa, is the largest freshwater lake in southern Tibet and, through man-made tunnels, feeds the Tsangpo River.

Panorama published by Circle of Blue, a nonprofit that provides relevant, reliable and actionalbe on-the-ground information about the world's resource crises : http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/world/china-tibet-and-the-strategic-power-of-water/