A photo shoot that changed a community

Joshua Abaho (Photo by Elizabeth Amongin)

BY ELIZABETH    AMONGIN

This is a curious   tale of a photo shoot that changed the lives of indigenous children in a remote village in Mukono.

Joshua   Abaho, a student of mass communication at UCU, decided to take his photojournalism classes further, and earn a living from photography.

One day a client asked him to take photos in Mukono.

“I received a call from a model who wanted a photo shoot done. The model chose the location, which was Kyungu, Mukono District. My job was to take the photos and then I could get back to my usual business of class and photography,” he says.

After the photo shoot, however, Abaho was fascinated by a group of children who were fetching dirty water from a well in a location nearby. He inquired why they were fetching this water especially that the well was as far as two kilometres away from home.

“I wondered why these children were fetching dirty water. To my surprise, I was told that dirty as it was, this water was the ‘cleanest’ they could access for daily use. Since I own a camera that can do both photography and videography, I decided to shoot a video of the incident,” he says.

The children’s daily routine includes fetching water before they head to school. This moved the third-year student, who made a documentary about it, marking the beginning of a documentary shooting expedition for the student who earlier had no intention of venturing into that business.

A blessing in disguise

On 3rd October 2016, Abaho uploaded the video on the social media platforms of Facebook and Youtube. Like many social media users, he was only sharing his work with his network of followers  to highlight the plight of the children in Kyungu who do not have safe water and have to walk miles to access even the dirty water they use daily.

One day, a local Ugandan magazine called Myspot got interested in the video. When the CEO of MySpot Magazine, Noah Wapera, watched it, he was moved by the story, got in touch with Abaho and their discussion progressed to finding ways of helping out the needy children.

“Wapera suggested that we organise a charity concert whose proceeds would be used to construct a safe water source. I had no objection to that. The concert was organised and artists like Daniel Aranda from Australia, Maurice Kirya and Bruno K performed,” he said.

On 7th June 2017, a borehole was constructed and today, they can fetch clean and safe water.

A source of income

Since then Abaho is a photographer and documentary producer. This has helped him earn money to cover some of his daily expenses.

“I cover most events over the weekend because I have classes during the week. So when I get bookings during the week, I usually postpone them because I do not want them to interfere with my class time,” he said.

“My charges range from Shs150,000 to Shs350,000 for photo shoots but the prices vary depending on the kind of event. Sometimes the client may want make-up done prior, and I therefore have   to hire a make-up artist.”

Through Wapera, Abaho was also part of the photography team of the Buzz Teeniez Awards 2017 event where they honoured achievers in the local television, music and gospel industry.

He has also shot another documentary about Jinja.

“Although I have not yet uploaded it, I believe that it is important for people to know more about our beautiful country.”

Mentors

“Roland Manzi, a photographer at ‘ilove Photo Studio’ is one person that I have learnt a lot from in terms of photography techniques. Ray Crespo is another inspiration. He was the lead photographer when Dr William Franklin Graham IV visited Uganda at the peace and joy celebration at UCU last year,” he says.

Advice

He urges students to be practical and apply the skills they learn in class, to make money.

“Expose yourself to possibilities and challenge yourself. Learn how to use different software, for instance, currently I am teaching myself how to use Indesign through Youtube tutorials,” says the young man who changed the lives of a community by providing them with safe water. And it all started with a single photo shoot.

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