Jake R. Rutherford - Visual Storyteller
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Democratic Republic of Congo

Exploring the daily experience of an orphan in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the objective of this aone:eight assignment. The organization has sent volunteers and donations to a particular orphanage for years and wanted to understand the realities, the challenges, the joys, and the sacrifices of supporting an orphanage. The intended use for the visuals would be fundraising campaigns and awareness applications.

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THE DAILY REALITY OF AN ORPHANAGE

Exploring the daily experience of an orphan in the Democratic Republic of Congo was the objective of this aone:eight assignment. The organization has sent volunteers and donations to a particular orphanage for years and wanted to understand the realities, the challenges, the joys, and the sacrifices of supporting an orphanage. The intended use for the visuals would be fundraising campaigns and awareness applications.

Scope: Photography, Awareness (Speaking)

Organization: aone:eight / National Community Church

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DR Congo is still struggling to recover from Africa’s World War in which an estimated 3 million people died between 1998 and 2003. Despite a peace deal and the formation of a transitional government, the people in eastern DRC remain in a limbo of marauding militias and the army.

FOCUS ON LIFE

The Congo for Christ Center (CCC) in Uvira was founded in 2007 by a pastor who returned home after years of intense fighting in the region. It shelters and provides for 57 orphans and a sizable staff, most of which are volunteers without stipend or pay.

Our goal was to generate images for fundraising use in a way that conveyed relationships, context and an insight on the daily offices, leisures, and ceremonies of the CCC and the community that developed around the orphanage.

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FOCUS ON THE INDIVIDUAL

To accompany the visual ‘day-in-the-life’ approach, I also made a series of traditional portraits of the orphans, the supportive staff, and the individuals that interact with the CCC. This portrait perspective conveys the importance of the individual that sometimes gets overlooked with large child support systems. Meanwhile, by collecting a volume of portraits of diverse individuals, it demonstrates the greater social fabric that exists at the CCC.

EXPRESSIONS

The visuals went to immediate use into the aone:eight visual library that then was expressed in printed and digital fundraising materials within the organization and the parent organization, National Community Church.

A few months after the assignment I spoke alongside the volunteer team leader at an awareness and fundraising event in Washington, D.C. that recounted our trip and the photographic work’s attempt to capture daily life.

Finally, the work was published on the National Geographic photo blog, PROOF (now called ‘Picture Stories’) where I discussed handling challenges and the temporal feelings of failure while on assignments like aone:eight’s assignment.

Snapshots: Recovering From a Photographic Fumble  published on the  National Geographic  photography blog ‘Proof’, featuring photographs and a retelling of my experience from the assignment.

Snapshots: Recovering From a Photographic Fumble published on the National Geographic photography blog ‘Proof’, featuring photographs and a retelling of my experience from the assignment.

Jake captures images that are subtle, nuanced and focused on things most people don’t see.
It’s some of our favorite photographs that we have access to.
— Dave Schmidgall, aone:eight Director