Exhibit : An Image of Gao
“Ay ga wa na!”
In Sonrai, the phrase “I know how!” is an amazing exclamation of empowerment and joy. Malians are capable of so many things, but when given the opportunity to take a photo, they question themselves. With a simple explanation and with the first click, eyes open wide and a smile breaks through, and instantly, you can see the young girl brainstorming how she can portray her life in 27 exposures.
As a part of my current MArch thesis research to design a new Centre de Sante Communautaire (CSCOM, or Community Health Center) for the quartier of Boulgoundie, I had the opportunity to return to Mali in September 2011 – a place that I was lucky to call home for two years before moving to Seattle. While life in Northern Mali is one of sun, sand and drought, the CSCOM is the center of daily activities, especially for women and children. People travel miles by foot, boat and donkey cart to seek the advice of a small health professional staff and to catch up with children, new marriages, market prices, and of course, the weather. In a generally calm quartier, the Boulgoundie CSCOM is an amazing collection of life despite ever-present malaria, threats of typhoid and high medicine prices.
In exchange for the staff’s patience and willingness to help, we launched a short photo project focusing on the healthcare staff and volunteers, as well as shop owners, farmers, market women and students. With 12 cameras, 14 villagers were given the opportunity to share with you the most important things in their lives, whether it be the CSCOM, their children, or simply a cup of tea.
Written by Eryn Gaul, MArch Candidate 2011. An Image of Gao: Photographs through the Eyes of Boulgoundie, Mali and the Quartier’s Goal to Bring Healthcare to All, an exhibit of 40 photographs will be up in Gould Hall until the end of October.