Guest post by Paige Steele, Investor Relations Manager
We all remember the feelings of anticipation of school picture day. Whether it be dread or excitement, whatever was about to be captured would record that year of your life for, well, the rest of it.
I was one of those kids who dreaded picture day. Something awkward always seemed to be happening, just waiting to imprint itself in my mom’s scrapbook for life. Whether it was my purple Harry Potter shaped glasses, braces, or a new pimple, the doom was inevitable. This is probably why I’ve found myself, as an adult, on the other side of the camera.
Humor aside, these days I am privileged to capture each of our Hope Haven Rwanda students’ school photos year after year and let me tell you, it really is an honor to serve in this way. When the day comes, they wait in line eager and expectant and then when it’s their turn, they let their unique personalities shine. You can easily see which ones are sweet as pie, those who embody the confidence of Kanye, and my personal favorites – who are the class clowns, whose initial silly poses always draw big belly laughs from their cohorts.
Year after year, we take their photos, understanding that this could very well be the only one they get of themselves all year. And while we use these photos for marketing purposes, fundraising events and to give to our Hope Angels when they sponsor a child through the Kugaba Initiative, we also make certain that each child receives a nice printed copy of their school picture to take home to mom.
More often than not when I’ve been in village homes with sponsors, I have seen the kids’ school photos proudly pinned or taped to the interior side of their mud wall. (Usually just under a picture of Jesus and President Kagame). The contrast between where they live and the bright smiles and clean uniforms is a stark one. This always hits me, but it showcases the hope and pride the families have in their child. Note that these homes don’t have mirrors either.
Many of our volunteers from the US have also made a point to bring a polaroid camera with them to take photos and give out to the kids, which I highly recommend if you want to be a major hit on campus.
In a world of selfies and a Walgreens on every corner, I can’t imagine not being able to have a photo of myself if I wanted one, and to cherish it as a prized possession at that. I’m grateful for the privilege of showing them in a tangible way how beautiful they are in God’s image. And most of all for our amazing donors and supporters who not only provide a great education for our kids, but who also help to build their self-esteem as they blossom into the confident Christian world leaders and job creators we know they’re destined to become.