This year had a lot of changes. At the end of 2015, I left my base in Nairobi, the birds, the red roads. I went to spend time with family in Pennsylvania, going walking in the woods and making drawings.
January. I went to Somaliland and worked on a project for Action Aid UK about communities coping with drought. The writer and I also collected stories about FGM. Some of the pictures and stories were published in the Guardian here.
I scribbled portraits in my field notebook during the interviews.
February. I spent time with friends in Nairobi and traveled in Israel and Palestine with James. I cried my way across Jerusalem and turned 39 by the Sea of Galilee.
April. Danced around the house with my lil nephew in Philadelphia, printed photos in the darkroom at Project Basho , and flew to Rwanda for another job with Action Aid UK. This project was about girls missing school when they have their periods.
May. Headed to Uganda for another job with Intersect Productions / MasterCard Foundation to make portraits for their Youth Think Tank.
The job ended in Rwanda so I took the bus to the border, crossed into DR Congo, stayed with a friend in Goma, met the gorillas, and climbed Nyiragongo volcano.
Spent a lovely 4 days in Lewiston, Maine, talking photojournalism and life with a stellar group of journalism students at Bates College's short term, with Peter Moore at the helm. Loved talking with them~!
June/July. I received a Davis Fellowship for Peace to attend Middlebury Language School's Arabic program. I was a beginner and we took a language pledge to only speak Arabic for the entire 8 weeks. I couldn't really say much beyond "I like chicken" and "yella, bye" for the first few weeks. I carried my notebook everywhere, recording grammar and vocabulary, thought processes and many bad drawings.
September. I got a reporting fellowship from the IWMF to report on deforestation from the charcoal trade in Northern Uganda. I was based in Gulu with a group of women journalists reporting on conservation, and another group reporting on South Sudanese refugees. I could write a whole post just about this trip, getting kidnapped (in a simulation! as part of the hostile environment training), learning how to get out of handcuffs, talking to many different people in different sectors of the charcoal sector. I also traveled to the refugee camps and reported on young girls who fled South Sudan and were living in the camps without their parents. You can read it here.
I flew from Uganda to Nairobi and spent two weeks back in Nairobi with dear friends, trying to say goodbye to another dear friend, Berenika, we lost her in September. Dear girl.
As I'm writing this, I realize I'm thinking of this year like a laundry list, there's so much I've barely touched on here and so much I haven't even fully processed for myself. Overall, I got to spend much-needed time with family and friends.
I flew back to JFK from Uganda, took the bus to PA, repacked my bags, added some art supplies, and flew back out of JFK 48 hours later, this time to Paris, where I've been wandering, writing, drawing, making pictures, learning, spending time with friends, meeting new people, making stickers, postcards, prints, trying to actualize some of the millions of ideas floating around in my head for these past years. I don't know what's next. Other than another drawing, another photograph, another poem. Sending <3