Capturing 30 years of Send a Cow in Uganda, by Darran Rees
39-year-old Olivia sits in the rudimentary kitchen of her mother Kasilina’s house while she is visiting with her children. She is trying to persuade her little boy to comb the doll’s hair but he’s not too sure about it. Behind her sits her 17-year-old cousin Stuart who was stricken and disabled with cerebral malaria when he was just three months old. One of Olivia’s four twin girls, Babirye, carries another cousin through the back door of this small basic two bedroom home where her 70-year-old mother has lived for over 20 years .
I had the opportunity to visit with this wonderful family during my recent 10 day shoot and commission for Send a Cow’s 30th Anniversary celebrations this year. I was there primarily to describe the stories of generational change brought about for, and by, the families who first received a cow from the UK 30 years ago. I had spent the night in a small tent outside the house making a kind of time lapse Night to Day image which told the story in one picture and then stayed with them throughout the morning making photographs of their family time together.
‘Darran Rees/The Operators’
Among all of the unique experiences I had and the hardships I witnessed during my visit to Uganda in January it was my time with Kasilina at her home that touched me the most. Despite a long life of hardship and sacrifice, Kasilina has met it with grace, resilience, fortitude and a strong faith.
This amazing woman has not only managed to raise her own family single-handedly and send them to school – as Olivia here can now do with her own young family – but is currently bringing up three of her own grandchildren, a young niece and two nephews, including disabled Stuart, who have all lost a parent. This picture for me encapsulates this in one moment observed, of a family whose life is in transition, a picture of hope and a picture of the future.
Seeing first hand throughout my journey the sheer strength and positivity of people despite their obvious disadvantages, their determination to do what one could – if not for themselves then for the next generation – had a strong effect on my work. To witness how this unique organisation has enabled such people, firstly in Uganda and now throughout Africa, to realize these potentials, believe in their dreams and to at least have what we have in the West – a chance – was inspiring.
By the time this is published, Kasilina and the kids will have moved into her newly built house overlooking the distant shores of nearby Lake Wamala. She informed me that would never have happened if “it were not that cow.”
It was a great privilege to be asked to take part in this celebration and to photograph individuals and families in Uganda who have been beneficiaries of the kindness, wisdom and education of this amazing charity started by a few UK based farmers 30 years ago this spring. As part of this years SAC 30th Anniversary generational change launch I spent most of January traveling throughout Uganda photographing outreach disability projects for SAC as well as meeting three families who’s lives have been changed over the thirty year period since they first received a cow from the UK. It was my brief to record visually- through photography how their lives and the quality of their lives have been enhanced since first working with SAC.
The banner image concept I came up with that hopefully tells the story in one shot is seen here. It shows the home and the family who received a cow 30 years ago. I spent 16 hours in a tent making a series of time-lapse stills outside Kassillinas’s house here. Kassillina , on the right, resplendent in her orange Sunday best is seen with her daughter Olivia- her new baby and her two sets of young twins . Through SAC and the donated cow, families could afford to purchase a solar panel, their children could study after dark by the light it provided , they could go to a decent school and get a good education -all afforded by the bi-products of the cow, milk to sell, better fertiliser from the dung and more produce to sell as a result etc . Kassillina’s daughter was then able to get a decent job and in turn send her children to a good school ( seen here in their smart uniforms ).
Big thank you to Scott Freeman and The Operators in London for putting this together with me with their amazing post-production skills , and, more importantly giving their time free .
* More details , pictures and individual stories can be seen on my Instagram feed #darranrees on the right of this screen.
Success in the International Fine Art Photo Awards
One of my pictures from the ‘There America ‘ series has been selected into this years Landscape Photography awards at the Centre for Fine Art Photography in America. The exhibition will take place in the main Gallery at the Carnegie Center for Creativity in Fort Collins Colorado June13-23.
Great to have one of the Liberty Mutual / Havas NY shots from the campaign choosen in the Honorable Mention category at the awards last month.
Apple -USA visit.
A wonderful opportunity to get to meet the amazing art producer , creatives and producers at the Apple Photo Department in San Francisco this month . The portfolio/book seemed to go down very well, as did the little 20 page magazine we created – made up solely of iPhone ‘snaps’ , simply as a little leave-behind-thank-you. Here is the cover.
CHICAGO / SAN FRANCISCO / LA -OCT.
I am fortunate in having the friends and colleagues that I have in the USA, along with the new friends and creatives I made and met on the trip to Apple combining portfolio viewings in Chicago , San Francisco and Los Angeles . Specific thank you to you both at LEO BURNETT. You great guys at MUH.TAY.ZIK / HOF-FER . You at MULLENLOWE ! , you at ARGONAUT , VENABLES and you at BUTLERSHINESTERN for the great response and help with finding a new U.S. representative . Thanks all.
Here are a few images I had time to make on the compact during a manic schedule …
Great to have one of my images selected by National Geographic yesterday as part of the twelve pictures their editors chose daily . I’m particularly chuffed because as a photographer , I have always dreamed of being associated in some way with this great institution, plus , between NG and NG-Photo they have a following of over 21 million people ! A added bonus was one of their editors picking out my shot for this comment -below. I am very happy they went with one images from the Translavania , Romania series.
I was asked by creative director Simon Sworn of J.Walter Thompson -London along with Kat Thomas and creative producer Anna Henderson to travel the length & breadth of the UK and photograph everyday folk enjoying cycling in all it’s forms for a new national campaign launching July 2017. After a period of pre-planning I headed out alone at the start of June returning after 4000 miles and 20 days where I then spent another week or so completing the post-production
It was a wonderful opportunity to discover , organise and meet some great people who thankfully allowed me to photograph them despite my chasing them up the street armed only with a camera , model-release form and a letter of introduction from the agency .
I think the images deliberately benefit from the lack of over-production and the element of the moment of place, light, time and subject. Fortunately Simon, Kat and Anna at the agency recognised that too and I’m thankful for their trust and support.
Here is a small selection …
Amy Smith on her unique custom chopper was about to leave for the Glastonbury festival where she and her band ‘ Oh my God it’s the church’ were to perform that weekend . Then there’s young Lucas kelly looking cool in his RAF outfit . The wonderful ‘scrubbers’ that were Andy and Andy resplendent in drag at the Eroica Britannia cycling festival in the Derbyshire peaks national park as was the fabulous Gem Maynard-Watts on his stilts-cycle. Lastly there is Carl Jeffiries MBE cycling on the beach in Northern Scotland where he took over the fab ‘Betty Hill Hotel’ after retiring from the RAF three years ago ( he was the one who taught Prince Harry how to fly Helicopters )!