Philanthropy | For Goodness’ Sake

A new exhibition reveals the power of the camera

Congolese refugees document their own lives on camera

A new exhibition reveals the power of the camera

March 05 2010
Lindsay Macpherson

Following the success of Rankin’s 2008 exhibition of portraits from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which raised more than £1m for aid work in the region when auctioned, the photographer has reunited with Oxfam. From Congo With Love, a mix of his work and that of his subjects, launched in February.

Rankin set up workshops to teach photography skills to about 100 Congolese – most of whom had never even seen a camera – allowing them to document life in the refugee community of Sange, South Kivu province, to which tens of thousands have fled as a result of recent conflict.

“The reasoning behind letting local people take their own photographs was to give them authorship and ownership of their image and their living situation,” Rankin says. “It gives the villagers a platform to tell their own stories.”

Funds raised will support displaced people in South and North Kivu by providing clean water and sanitation in camps and communities to halt the spread of diseases such as cholera – a major contributing factor in the 5.4m deaths caused as a result of the conflict since 1998.