Family Portraits for Mathombo

When children in Mathombo yell, "snap, snap", they  stop, pose, then run to the camera to check out their photos. When the women of Mathombo yell, "snap, snap", they stop, pose, and return to what they are doing. It's as if someone capturing their existence is simply enough. That someone took notice of them here, on this farm, in this village, on the West Coast of Africa is simply enough. The fact that someone might share those photos on the other side of the earth is not a thought in their head. They have no thoughts of airplanes and electricity, much less the other side of the earth. But I digress...

We take photos for granted. They are part of EVERY DAY. None of the families in Mathombo have a family portrait hanging in their house, some have never seen a real printed picture of themselves of their spouses, children, parents, etc. Given the atrocities of war and the Ebola outbreak in recent years, the families of Mathombo are unique. They are made up of multi-generations, of teenagers who were orphaned, of women and men who are widows and widowers, of grandparents and grandbabies. Sierra Leone has seen its share of heartbreak and the value of capturing a family's life, as it is now, even though the shape of the family may change, is immeasureable.




Many of you suggested I publish a book with my photos, and someday I hope to. But FIRST, I think it's very important that the people whose portraits have been the subject of so many compliments and questions, deserve a potrait for themselves.


While in Mathombo, working on a USAID and Catholic Relief Services funded project,  I took portraits of approximately 120 families. I will be printing an 8x10 for each family in addition to some others I captured in the village. My friend Katherine Cassidy, who recently opened an orphanage in Kambia, Sierra Leone, is home for the holidays and will be taking these portraits back with her to Mathombo and hand delivering them at the end of January.

The $1000 will be used for:

1) $600: printing 150, 8x10 color portraits (@ $3.99/each).
2) $100: Equipment Repair at the Tawopaneh Agriculture Business Center. Both their power tiller and mill processor need repair prior to harvest in the coming weeks
3) $150: Discounted seeds, fertilizer and pesticides the Tawopaneh Agriculture Business Center. They buy farming inputs from Fresh Salone and Ministry of Agriculture Fish and Farming and resell them to the surrounding FBOs (Farmer Based Organizations)
4) $150: Labor for the youth of the village. Over the next few weeks. $150 is enough to pay a more than a handful of young men for the entire 2-3 weeks.

Any funds raised beyond $1000 will be placed into the Tawopaneh Agriculture Business Center bank account which is overseen by an elected board. I am in contact with the project regularly and can assure the funds go directly as indicated and will report back on how the funds have impacted their ability to do business.

It would mean the world to me that on my birthday, you were able to give this gift to the villagers of Mathombo. Thank you so much!

Elaine Berndes
Chicago, Illinois










Donations

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  • Jessica Koch 
    • $40 
    • 38 mos
  • Kristin Drutchas 
    • $50 
    • 38 mos
  • Alana Lambert 
    • $50 
    • 38 mos
  • David Berndes 
    • $50 
    • 38 mos
  • nora ligurotis 
    • $50 
    • 38 mos
See all

Organizer

Elaine Berndes 
Organizer
Vernon Hills, IL
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