A tweet changed Erin Wilson’s life

Erin Wilson with a monk in Ladakh, India

Erin Wilson with a monk in Ladakh, India

One-hundred-forty characters changed Erin Wilson’s life two years ago.
Wilson was on Twitter and saw a tweet by Chilean Heber Vega, who had been working and living with his family in northern Iraq for several years as an NGO (Non-governmental organization) worker.
“Heber noticed that there weren’t many opportunities for kids on the margins that could help them with long-term goals. Heber is a photographer and had a hunch that teaching photography to kids could benefit them in both the short-term, and in the long-term. He floated the idea over Twitter, where I saw it.”
The idea he floated was for kids between the ages 10-17 and was called the ONE-SHOT Project, said Wilson, who lived in Port Colborne at the time.
“I knew I needed to be involved. And thankfully, it turned out that Heber was right.”

The work of Twana, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

The work of Twana, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

Wilson said the project teaches basic photography skills, but it also gives Wilson and Vega the chance to show much more important lessons, that the kids have skills and talents and they’re valued.
“At the end of our workshops, our students have made a collection of images that are impressive — regardless of their age — but they have also learned to see the world differently, and to see themselves differently.”
The ONE-SHOT Project is entirely run by volunteers, with point and shoot cameras donated from all over the world, and has been run in Chile, as well as northern Iraq.
“We can always use more cameras. We can use both point and shoot (five megapixels or higher), and DSLRs. We can only take gear in working order, as we have no funds for making repairs. It’s pretty amazing what can be accomplished with a little funds and a lot of love.”
Wilson said while in Chile, which she returned from earlier this summer, she and Vega worked with both boys and girls. But in Kurdistan, the project has only worked with boys.  
“We’re hoping to change that soon.

The work of Rebaz, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

The work of Rebaz, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

Wilson has invested a lot in the project, so much so that she’s moving to northern Iraq in mid-August.
“The people are incredibly gracious and generous. I have fallen in love with the Kurdish people, and want to live life with them for a while. It will also make it easier to teach more workshops. It’s hard to fit one of your life passions into vacation weeks.”
Wilson said she and Vega have many hopes for their students once they’ve finished a workshop.
“We hope they’ll come back and learn with us again; we’ve had a great time with our return students. We hope they’ll hold their heads higher as they go about their days, because they now know that they are so much more than the world has told them. We hope they’ll live more peaceful lives, because they now know they have options. And for some, we hope to help them become professional photographers.”
On Thursday, July 25, the Mahtay Café, at 241 St. Paul St. in St. Catharines, is hosting an exhibit of ONE-SHOT Project student’s work. Wilson will give a talk on the project, what it’s like in Kurdistan (northern Iraq), and the recent workshop held in Santiago, Chile.
“There will be more student work available to see, and there will be plenty of time available for questions. The talk starts at 7 p.m.”
She said if anyone has a digital camera tucked away that they’re no longer using, she’d be happy to send them (the cameras) on an adventure in Iraq. Donated cameras can be dropped off at the Mahtay Café on the evening of July 25. Wilson can also be reached at ewilson@theoneshotproject.com to make arrangements for camera donations.

The work of Derin, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

The work of Derin, one of the ONE-SHOT Project students in northern Iraq.

CNW News

 


 

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