Through the Eyes of Children
The Rwanda Project
September 21 - November 7, 2005
Please see the Rwanda Project website for information about this exhibit.
This article by Pastor Joanne Engquist was originally published in the University Lutheran Church newsletter, the UniLu Press, in October 2005.
The remarkable exhibit currently hanging in our gallery space . . . is the sweet fruit of a group of children from the Imbabazi Orphanage in Rwanda. It began as a photographic workshop in 2000 when David Jiranek taught two four-week classes to children ages 8-18. Later, the children were given disposable cameras and invited to go out and take pictures; twenty-eight of which now hang in our building, inviting us to see both beauty and devastation in Rwanda. This exhibit invites us to look with the children at a world where delight can be found in the midst of daily experience amidst extreme poverty. But it does not intend to help us remain at safe distances from Africa. It asks us to engage. To learn. To pray. To advocate.
Some have wondered whether Jesus might like to take back the line recorded in Mark's gospel where he is quoted as saying, "The poor you will always have with you. . ." I think he would not. More likely, he simply would want people to remember the context and keep things in perspective. In that exchange with the disciples, Jesus was not trying to give people an out for not caring about their sisters and brothers. He was making a point about the devotion of an unforgettable woman who lavished on Jesus both love and sweet oils. Cryptically, he spoke of his own impending death.
Indeed, Jesus speaks so routinely about pouring out oneself for others that we ought to have it down by now; this is the Christian life—to continually surrender our hold on what we have so that we may share with others out of our abundance. This month we have many opportunities to explore themes of poverty and hunger, to look at needs close to home and those far away.
I hope the photographs from the children in Rwanda will help us ask ourselves anew what we are willing and able to do to address those needs and live into our baptismal vocation that calls us "to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed. . . and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth."
May we open our lives and wallets to a world in profound need.