your photographerThat’s right, I had a pretty cool day earlier this week and made my debut as an official photographer! It wasn’t the call from Maxim or Sports Illustrated that I might have been hoping to receive – but it was still pretty cool stuff so I thought I would share. One of the coolest parts of my job here at MEDA is the Communications area. MEDA Tanzania is a great organization with a lot of really amazing successes behind and in front of it –  the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme which MEDA TZ has built since 2004 is often used as a model for other nations to build their malaria prevention and sustainable mosquito net distribution programs. Part of the role of the Communications area ( I was going to say ‘team’ but I am the only one officially on it and since there is no I in team….) is to tell these success stories to donor agencies and the rest of the world. As such, I’ve been tasked with helping get this success story out through pictures, articles, promotional materials, this blog, etc.

A note on the whole ‘professional’ tag – I believe that definition of a professional consists of the fact that they are being paid for their services – does this now mean I can call myself a professional photographer? Nah, I think I would rather just keep the expectations low and occassionaly surprise when things turn out well.

So how did my first photography assignment come about? This past week was apparently the first time that MEDA had a good portion of all of it’s field trucks back at HQ and it would only last for another day or two. As such, our Country Manager came up with the creative idea to see if I might want to sieze the opportunity and get them all together for some photos since it might never happen again. After scouting some locations, I found a hotel parking lot overlooking the Indian ocean that would work well and organized the 14 or so trucks parked at HQ to head there that morning.

all the pretty trucks...all in a row

It was a pretty cool experience thinking of set-ups, directing the trucks, standing on the roof  to get different angles and trying my best to get some good shots that we might be able to use in some future promotional materials. After the group pictures we even did some one on one portraits with each driver and their truck which was a lot of fun and something to pass along to all of the drivers for them to take home.

bada$ MEDA flame decals

After this first morning photoshoot I went with a colleague on a fact-finding mission to visit some local health facilities (where they issue our Hati Punguzo mosquito net vouchers) and then to a retailer (who sells the mosquito net in exchange for the voucher the pregnant woman received). It was great to finally get out in the field and talk to some of the people (our clients) that we have been working on behalf of. Here are a few pics through the rest of this post from that mini-field trip.

Hati Punguzo voucher exchange at a Dar health centre

mothers and children at clinic for check-up

The photographer career set to continue with lions and MEDA issuing field trip

This weekend I am off for a mini-roadtrip to the nearby city of Morogoro and hopefully will be heading off on my first African safari in the Mikumi National Park. I am hoping that the new zoom lens I bought before coming over here will be good enough to get some good shots to share later on this blog. There is also a 60% chance I will wrestle a lion on this safari – and if I do, there’s a 100% chance I will win and the lion will apologize for provoking me.

muzungu's with big cameras are scary

On Sunday morning I will be off to the field to observe, document, and help out with the mosquito net issuing. One of the major campaigns that MEDA runs here in Tanzania is the Under Five Catch-Up campaign (U5CC) which is tasked with issuing free Long-Lasting Insecticide Treated mosquito nets (LLINs) to all children under the age of five in the whole country. Next week they are issuing in the far southern corner of the country in the region of Ruvuma – near the border with Malawi and in an area called the Southern Highlands. I asked to go to the town of Songea in Ruvuma area because it was pretty much the farthest spot from Dar es Salaam that I could find where we are currently issuing and is the real rural Tanzanian environment that the vast majority of the people in this country live. It sounds like it could satisfy my thirst to get out and see more of the country outside of Dar es Salaam and our “muzungu paradise” – it’s about a 12 hour drive into the middle of the country and then south and winds through mountains and much less traveled parts of the country so I am very excited for that. Note: I may regret saying that after the 11th hour on a bumpy, dusty road…

So, this is the last post for the next two weeks or so as I will be on the aforementioned trip and far away from technology – but I hope to have some good stories and photos to share upon my return!