Kutuuka by Gloria Baker Feinstein
I recently sat in a darkened screening room, tears streaming down my face, as I watched the documentary, Changing the Truth, about photographer Gloria Baker Feinstein and how, inspired by a photo workshop in Africa, she returned to adopt an entire Ugandan orphanage. Full disclosure here, Feinstein is a friend of mine, and I have watched with amazement and pride as she created Change the Truth, a non-profit organization that has transformed the lives of countless Ugandan orphans.
Feinstein has always been a gifted photographer, in particular, a black and white photographer, creating images that are poetic and sensual. In Kutuuka (meaning, “to reach” in Lugandan), she has used those gifts to capture the world of Saint Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood. These children had been abandoned, often abused and mistreated. Many come from northern Uganda, where they lost their families to war, others come from as far away as Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan, Congo, Chad and Niger. With her astute photographic observations, Feinstein brings compassion and insight to her work and lives of these orphans.
The book is divided into three parts. The first section, Tuuka Waggulu (“reach up”), is a collection of Feinstein’s soulful black and white images, reflecting children as children-full of joy, play and energy- without focusing on their dire circumstances, poverty, or pain. Her photographs dignify and give insight to the lives of AIDS and war orphans who have survived and thrived despite horrific experiences. Feinstein finds the details, the spirit and essence, and finally, the beauty that exists in these fragile lives.
In the second part of the book, Yitamu (“reach through”), Feinstein partners with the children to illustrate their hopes and dreams, giving them a photographic voice. These color photographs illuminate and interpret their thoughts with simplicity and nuance, and are a thoughtful companion to the last section of Kutuuka, made up of drawings and paintings created by the orphans as a way to process and heal their traumas, and ultimately to reach inside their abilities to dream of a brighter future. This section is aptly titled, Tuuka Mu (“reach in”), and gives a direct articulation to lives that have never been acknowledged. The children’s own images, respectfully celebrated, are a significant statement to all that is possible.
Beautifully printed, all proceeds from the sale of Kutuuka go directly to Change the Truth to provide life changing opportunities for the children of Saint Mary Kevin Orphanage Motherhood.
If you have any interest in making a donation, or participating with Change the Truth, go here.
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