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Social issues caught on camera by students

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Newspaper visit: YCA students visit The Royal Gazette. Back row, Shalika Saltus and Rhea Gibbons. Front row, Rojoni Dill-Pedro, Kipp Wharton, Kayla Caldwell and Kent Simmons (Photograph by Sideya Dill)

Youth Camera Action is a photography programme offered at the Bermuda National Gallery to middle school students between the ages of 11 and 14.

The scheme offers a level one introductory programme and a level two intermediate programme.

In the Activist intermediate class, students study photojournalism, forensic photography, documentary photography, photography as evidence and as an agent for social change.

The young people had to select a social issue they were passionate about and develop a project with an action plan on how to create change.

They travelled across the island taking photos relevant to their issue and visited a number of people, including officers at the Hamilton Police Station and the education officer at the Human Rights Commission.

At The Royal Gazette offices, they met Sarah Fellows, who used to work for the United Nations.

When working on their projects, the students were encouraged to create petitions inspired by Amnesty International and legacy plans by developing their own organisations.

To learn more about YCA, contact Dany Pen at education@bng.bm, 295-9428 or visit www.bng.bm

Rojoni Dill-Pedro

My name is Rojoni Dill-Pedro and I am nice, fun and I help when someone needs help.

I’m 11 and just graduated from Elliot Primary. I will be going to Whitney Middle School in September. I love swimming and my favourite food is salad.

For my YCA photography camp, I chose the topic “environmentalism and water” because I am concerned about the ocean’s health as people keep polluting.

I created the Bermuda Underwater Organisation with a mission to help with the pollution problem, which is getting very bad. The water is going to be toxic and you might not be able to swim in it, see it or even eat fish from it.

Did you know that two-thirds of Earth’s surface is covered with water and more than seven billion people use it? The main problems for water pollution are sewage, waste, chemicals, oils and plastic.

I did a community survey in the City of Hamilton and asked people “do you care about the reefs?”. Yes was the response from 60 per cent.

I also asked people “do you care what you put in the ocean?”. Yes, said 80 per cent.

There are cleaning programmes around the world and people are teaching boats and marinas how to be environmentally friendly.

To continue the Bermuda Underwater Organisation, I will be proposing an environmental club at my new school and lead it in my community.

Kipp Wharton

My name is Kipp Wharton. My interests are architecture, political science and geography. I will be attending the Masters school in Dobbs Ferry, New York. I enjoy travel and food from around the world.

For my YCA photography camp my focus was on human trafficking across the world. I am concerned by the amount of slavery, which still exists, and how children can be abducted or forced to work in sweatshops.

Many people travel to other places in search of work and are tricked into slavery. This is common in the Gulf states with people in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Once they arrive their passports are taken and they must sleep in conditions that violate human rights. They must also work in extreme heat.

I chose this social issue because far too many people suffer at the greed of others. Children are forced to work in squalid conditions, manufacturing clothing or harvesting crops in fields covered in pesticides and chemicals. This is all at the hands of people who have the ability to pay them sufficiently but won’t, only having minors work to benefit them economically.

It is common in countries such as Pakistan for parents to give their children to people who promise to educate them, only for them to be shackled to a wall and told to makes things like carpets and shirts. This was the case for a boy called Iqbal Masih, who escaped a factory only to be murdered four years later for speaking out.

Men in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar are kept as slaves on boats, catching shrimp which is often sold in the West. Women in Eastern Europe are told they will be dancers in other countries but only to become prostitutes against their will or their organs sold to the highest bidder.

Exploitation is everywhere and human trafficking is one of the largest industries in the world, generating between $7 and $9.5 billion every year since 2004.

I created the organisation Wharton Anti-Trafficking Society and the mission is to conduct research into human trafficking and slavery worldwide, pushing authorities to investigate circumstances of abuse and enslavement and educating people about how to avoid becoming victims.

Human trafficking is a $32 billion industry and the US believes that there are between 800,000 to 4,000,000 trafficking victims annually.

I did a community survey in the City of Hamilton and asked people “are you aware that there are estimated 207 million trafficking victims worldwide today?”. Just 10 per cent said yes.

The Wharton Anti-Trafficking Society will continue its mission by creating awareness of human trafficking, slavery and exploitation through blogging, working with law enforcement and the passing of anti-exploitation Bills.

Kent Simmons

My name is Kent Simmons and I am 12. I like to swim and I’m going to a school called GOW in Buffalo, New York, USA.

For my YCA photography camp I chose the topic “poverty” because people should know about it happening in Bermuda and around the world. People don’t think poverty happens in Bermuda.

I created an organisation called Everyone Eats to help people who cannot afford food for themselves or their family.

What is poverty? People needing food, people without homes, people who try their best to get money, children going to school hungry, people with families in small homes and people who can’t afford further education.

Did you know that 795 million people do not have enough food to eat, 1.6 billion people do not have proper homes and 783 million people do not have clean water to drink?

When I was doing a community survey in the City of Hamilton, I asked people “do you notice poverty in Bermuda?”. The response was 70 per cent yes.

How you can help? Have a food drive, have your church give out food and donate money to the Salvation Army, Coalition for the Protection of Children or Feed my Lambs.

Everyone Eats is having a food drive. If you can please donate canned goods to the Bermuda National Gallery until tomorrow.

Kayla Caldwell

My name is Kayla Caldwell and I am 13. I attend Mount Saint Agnes Academy and enjoy reading, taking photos and driving horses.

For my YCA photography camp, I chose the topic “environmentalism and land” because I am concerned about global warming and its effects.

I chose this issue because people should be aware of what is happening to the environment as a result of human actions like littering, deforestation, and overfishing.

With certain laws in place we can attempt to restore animals populations before it is too late. Also, everything we do can have a positive or negative impact on the environment.

Environmentalism is becoming more and more of a concern. Along with that there is a rise in concern about how we humans are treating the environment and animals.

This is a problem because every single animal is important. No matter how small, they all have a distinct purpose, so by making them extinct, we are denying them that purpose.

Exploring the island with the YCA camp really opened my eyes as to just how much trash is around our island. This is harmful to our native species, in turn making them become endangered and letting non-native species take over.

If we keep this up, we may lose all of the native species we are known for.

I created the organisation Every Animal Counts with a mission to help educate the public about Bermuda’s endangered plant and animal species and how they became endangered.

Did you know that there are 57 types of endangered species in Bermuda? Cahows were thought to be extinct until 1951. Skinks are endangered.

Some bad news is that there are only 17 nesting pairs of Cahows left. But there is good news — a Cahow baby was born on Nonsuch Island three months ago and, as of 2015, there have been immense efforts to protect skinks.

I did a community survey in the City of Hamilton and asked people “are you concerned about the amount of endangered species in Bermuda?”. The response was 82 per cent said yes and 18 per cent said no.

I also asked people “do we have an adequate way of disposing our trash?”. The response was 82 per cent no and 18 per cent yes.

I then asked people “how can we improve this?”.

Recycling more was the answer from 56 per cent, 19 per cent said more garbage workers, 13 per cent said label trash cans with the three Rs (recycle, reduce, reuse) and the rest said use other countries’ ideas.

To continue Every Animal Counts and since I am on my school’s student council, I will be proposing an Eco-Club.

A way you can help the environment is by volunteering for Keep Bermuda Beautiful and join monthly clean-ups.

Rojoni Dill-Pedro
Natural resource: Rojoni is keen to protect our oceans
Learning the facts: Kipp’s photograph, taken during a visit to Hamilton Police Station
Raising awareness: Kent’s photograph
Kent Simmons
Animal lover: one of Kayla’s pictures
Kayla Caldwell