Photographer with a cause

In April 2013 Rudi was two years into running his own business 'Rudi Towiro Photography' and just starting to see some growth with a healthy base of happy and loyal customers.  It was then that we decided to take a short ten day break in Cambodia to visit some friends and check out some development initiatives that I, Catherine... Rudi's other half ... had been involved in through my work in international development and human rights.  
We had no idea at that stage what we were heading towards. Just six months later, Rudi's business was packed up, most of our possessions sold and the rest stored in garages of our wonderfully supportive families. With no sure idea for when we would return or what we would encounter we relocated to Phnom Penh, Cambodia.  

Now I think it's necessary to make a few things clear here.  Whilst it was my work and my dream that led us to make this move, it was Rudi's skills and creative vision that were our biggest asset and in many respects the reason we bit the bullet and waved good-bye (for now) to our home and our lives in Sydney, Australia.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly I am Rudi's no.1 fan and despite the financial pressures on photographers to settle into commercial work, which he of course has done his fair share of, I've always believed he would find himself doing the kind of work that attracted him to photography in the beginning.  Telling stories, capturing moments of life worth preserving and showing life as it really is.  

Rudi's eye for photography and storytelling is exceptional and when coupled with a cause, with a good story, an alluring, interesting, monumental or simply small, precious moment in time the images he captures are unforgettable.  

Here in Cambodia there are millions of unheard stories waiting and needing to be told.  These are the stories and the lives Rudi and I both have an interest in and where we see we have have some skills to offer.  

Last month we had the opportunity to come across one such story during the making of a short video for an NGO (nongovernmental organisation) which supports primary education.  (You can read and view more about the NGO and the filming experience here and here.) We met and interviewed Mao Sophin, a teacher who had been teaching for 19 years at a very poor and run down school.  Her story of perseverance and struggle as a teacher to try and provide better opportunities and a safer more inclusive and more engaging learning environment for her students was one of so many stories needing to be shared. 

Rudi and I embarked on this journey knowing full well the financial compromises we were to make.  We have small income sources, including teaching english.  To continue doing work for NGOs though Rudi needs better gear.  So far he has already invested in a new tripod to allow him to make the film mentioned already but the sound quality was a huge limitation.  

So why $5000?  This is what Rudi has estimated it will cost to get the gear he needs and to cover the cost of the video tripod he recently bought.  With this gear Rudi will be able to make more videos and photos for organisations and community development initiatives.  

We have the causes in mind, we have the contacts and know the demand and I have begun writing solicited proposals.  Examples of what will be achieved with these films:
- more children will have better access to education due to more corporate and private funding,
- there will be greater awareness of the negative impacts of migration on education, 
- educational videos about eye care and hygiene will be distributed throughout communities decreasing the level of avoidable blindness.

Any donations you can give will help and be hugely appreciated. Should you like to follow Rudi's work, follow our blog Towiro Journal and check out Rudi's website.

Thank you.


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Catherine Towiro 
Redfern NSW
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