For those who have followed my experiences within the CJA (girls' center) and have read my descriptions of the girls' behavior and backgrounds, it should be obvious that, needless to say, this project has not been the easiest to carry out. The planning, proposal-writing, seeking of support, etc. was hard enough considering the context and difficult lack of infrastructure, but once starting the training sessions I felt as though I literally had strapped in for a roller coaster ride (cliché but so true). I had some of my favorite moments in Cape Verde (seeing the excitement of receiving their first camera and experimenting to see how it works) and some of my least favorites, including sessions where I threatened to cancel the project if behavior and attitudes didn't start improving. I had volunteer youth come to help out and then quit, with a few sticking it out to the end. I had a change of three CJA coordinators who had to be re-oriented to the project and convinced to support me (by the way making this more "me-run" than I had originally intended). Among plenty of other set-backs and challenges, we charged on. Poku a poku we were able to get where we wanted to go. Not all of my goals were accomplished (I doubt I was even remotely successful at promoting leadership and responsibility, though seeds were surely planted), but in the end, we produced something I think was good.
So about the exposition. At the end of one of the most exhausting days I have had of late, we finally started Cape Verde-style, an hour late. The President of ICCA, who has been more or less involved in the project since conception, was supposed to do the abertura, or the final part of the opening ceremony. She cancelled at the last minute, failing to even call and let us know personally, and sent no one in her stead. So not even our own institution was accurately represented on our important day. But this is how things go, nothing to be done now. So we shifted around some roles, got our stuff together, and started the show.
The turn-out was less than we had hoped, with our invitees not all present, and a lot of the girls' family members absent. But those that were there were very supportive, and the girls were able to present their work.
After presenting the center and the importance of education (the theme the girls chose for the project and took subsequent photos regarding), I presented the project and its objectives, followed by three girls who participated, sharing their experience and what they had learned:
It was great to hear their perspective, and I think it really made the presentation much more valid or meaningful. Jéssica, the girl in the middle, made everyone laugh as she described how in the beginning they cut people's heads out of pictures, but then improved as they learned.
The master of ceremony was another girl from the CJA, one who had to drop out of the project because she contracted tuberculosis (she's fine now).
After we presented the project, we uncovered the photos, which were placed on three different placars, so that the audience could come see the work the girls did.
Each girl had their own section, showing the three photos they had chosen for exposition, along with a small profile explaining who they were, where they were from, and what they liked to do.