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.

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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.

How Mentoring Girls Educates Their Families, Too by Kate Lord

This post originally appeared on She's the First's blog, Aspire, after I returned from my first international trip with She's the First to visit their Guatemalan partner Starfish One by One.

As photojournalists, we hope that our images will inspire others to take a moment and reflect, and maybe, to act. But after spending time with the girls in our partner Starfish One by One’s program, I was the one who walked away inspired.

The girls we met are so passionate about learning — and not only about what they learn from their schoolbooks. One of the most exciting features of the Starfish One by One program is the mentoring the girls receive from an indigenous Mayan mentor who has gone through many of the same struggles the girls have. When we visited the girls at their homes and spoke to their mothers, time and time again it was the topics the girls covered in their mentoring sessions that had the greatest impact.

We met 16-year-old Mayra and her mother Eusebia Chuj Julajuj at their home in Buena Vista, Guatemala. She came home one day from her weekly mentoring session and spoke to her mom about what she’d learned about family planning. At 35 and a mother of eight, Mayra’s mom then went to speak to her daughter’s mentor about family planning for herself. After speaking with Candelaria, Mayra’s mentor, she decided that she was ready and that she would speak to her husband.

Mayra, who just started high school only a few weeks ago, has inspired her mother to take control of her life. And she’s not the only girl in the Starfish program to do so. Francisca and Brenda, whom we profiled on Aspire, sat down and had a frank conversation with their parents about sex education as well. And Maria’s father told us that his favorite conversation with his daughter about the mentoring program was when she came home and reported what she’d learned about violence against women. It lead to an open family discussion on the topic.

These stories only scrape the surface of the impact mentoring programs have on young women and their families – especially that of our partner Starfish One by One. But ultimately when you spend time educating a girl, you often end up educating her family as well.

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/

Peruvian Nuns Share Cloistered Life by Kate Lord

Twenty-three nuns live a cloistered life behind the walls of Santa Catalina Monastery in the heart of Arequipa, Peru. While the oldest active nun, Sister Consuelo de Jesus, has been a member of the cloister for 61 years and the youngest novice, Sister Heidi Marjorie, has lived with the order for a mere three months, both women have devoted their lives to God through service and prayer.

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Special Olympic World Summer Games by Kate Lord

Members of China Team 2 celebrate their victory in the 250 meter dragon boat final race at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. 

Members of China Team 2 celebrate their victory in the 250 meter dragon boat final race at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. 

Growing up in Matthews, N.C., I thought the only kind of dumpling that existed was a ball of dough served with chicken.

My perspective completely changed upon my arrival in Shanghai, China in September as a coverage coordinator for Special Olympics International. The 2007 World Summer Games were held in this city of more than 13 million residents, and I was assigned to lead teams of Chinese college students in professionally videotaping each of the events for broadcast on the Web.

Boats float down the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai, China overlooking the city’s Pudong district. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower rises above the rest of Shanghai’s skyline. 

Boats float down the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai, China overlooking the city’s Pudong district. The Oriental Pearl TV Tower rises above the rest of Shanghai’s skyline. 

        
The term “culture shock” is an understatement for the abundance of smells, sights and tastes of Shanghai. In one block, one can choose from a myriad of foods sold by street vendors, witness countless bikes being repaired by edge-of-the-sidewalk repairmen and hear the endless communication between the horns of taxi drivers. Hoards of people shove their way down the street as cars weave among scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. The chaos of it all made me wonder how a city of this size could possibly host an international event of such magnitude as the Special Olympics World Games.

Me (front left), with several members of our UNC team, and the Shanghai International Studies University volunteer force. We made up only a percentage of the overall Web casting team!

Me (front left), with several members of our UNC team, and the Shanghai International Studies University volunteer force. We made up only a percentage of the overall Web casting team!

My answer came in the form of volunteers ­– waves of them. According to Special Olympics International, the Shanghai games drew an estimated 40,000 volunteers from around the globe. Our Special Olympics Web casting project alone had 240 Chinese volunteers, plus 15 UNC-Chapel Hill alumni, five UNC professors and seven journalism professionals. 

          
The volunteers made this event happen.  From guiding spectators and athletes to each venue to translating between obscure languages and Mandarin, the volunteers kept the games flowing and the focus on the athletes. 

Karol Bogdanowicz, 19, represents Poland in the 500 meter divistion three preliminary round of kayaking at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. This is the first year that kayaking is an official sport in the Special Olympic World Games.

Karol Bogdanowicz, 19, represents Poland in the 500 meter divistion three preliminary round of kayaking at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. This is the first year that kayaking is an official sport in the Special Olympic World Games.

            
Our volunteers split up with the mission of covering every heat of every event during the games. We videotaped and edited for 12 to 14 hours a day for 10 days, even facing Typhoon Krosa, getting ourselves and our equipment soaked. Our policy was: if the teams are playing in it, we’re shooting in it. This meant that when Botswana continued to play Sweden despite the downpour, our volunteers were out in the torrential rain trying to keep their cameras dry and their eyes on the ball.

My student, "Fox," films a kayaking event!

My student, "Fox," films a kayaking event!

Working with an organization that can peacefully bring so many nations together was completely rewarding. I chatted with members of France’s soccer team, congratulated Finnish kayakers and screamed along with Ireland’s crowd at a basketball game. I patted Aussies on the back and learned how to properly cheer for Turkey (it’s pronounced Tur-kee-yay). 

Shen Weiguo, 28, of China competes in the division seven 500 meter kayaking final at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

Shen Weiguo, 28, of China competes in the division seven 500 meter kayaking final at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

IIpo Holttinen, 29, of Finland celebrates his bronze medal in the 500 meter division nine kayaking finals during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

IIpo Holttinen, 29, of Finland celebrates his bronze medal in the 500 meter division nine kayaking finals during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center.

But perhaps most enduring are the friendships I made with several of the Chinese students with which I was working. Despite the language barrier, we communicated well through a combination of their imperfect English and my dramatic charades. Even during grueling hours of video editing, we found common ground to joke about. My students worked incredibly hard and the result reflects that effort. The Web site, www.specialolympicslive.org, boasts a Web page for each Special Olympic athlete and videos of the competition.

sisu-all-pano2(B)x_crop.jpg

By the end of my two-month stay in Shanghai, the idea of dumplings stuffed with pork wasn’t so strange and I could wend my way through the crowded streets with ease. I had learned to properly eat rice with chopsticks, to count to ten in Mandarin and that tofu is actually delicious.  Above all, I left China with a deeper appreciation for the variety of the cultures of the world and the capability of these cultures to blend happily.  

The drummer for China Team 2 beats to keep his rowers in time on their way to the start line of the 250 meter preliminary round at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. The team later won the 250 meter final round. 

The drummer for China Team 2 beats to keep his rowers in time on their way to the start line of the 250 meter preliminary round at Shanghai Aquatic Sports Center. The team later won the 250 meter final round. 

Marie-Claire Courtin of Switzerland celebrates after a good putt during the level 1 competition at Shanghai Tianma Country Golf Course.

Marie-Claire Courtin of Switzerland celebrates after a good putt during the level 1 competition at Shanghai Tianma Country Golf Course.

Gustavo Deras of El Salvador rushes past Turkey’s Ismail Sari and Ozgur and Ozgur Tas in a match-up during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai International Studies University Stadium.  El Salvador won the match. 

Gustavo Deras of El Salvador rushes past Turkey’s Ismail Sari and Ozgur and Ozgur Tas in a match-up during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games at Shanghai International Studies University Stadium.  El Salvador won the match. 

Thomas Alves, 15, and Khalid Elhamdi, 18, celebrate their silver medals for men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium. 

Thomas Alves, 15, and Khalid Elhamdi, 18, celebrate their silver medals for men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium. 

Gustavo Deras, 27, celebrates El Salvador’s gold medal in men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium.

Gustavo Deras, 27, celebrates El Salvador’s gold medal in men’s 11-a-side football at the award ceremony at Shanghai Songjiang Stadium.

Luke O’Brien, 6, and his mother Carolina celebrate a basket made by the Irish women’s 5-a-side basketball team during their match against Egypt during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.  Caroline’s daughter, Aisling, is a member of the Irish squad.

Luke O’Brien, 6, and his mother Carolina celebrate a basket made by the Irish women’s 5-a-side basketball team during their match against Egypt during the 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Shanghai, China.  Caroline’s daughter, Aisling, is a member of the Irish squad.