Through the Lens photo exhibition opens in Kigali
On Friday, May 5th, Through the Lens: Energy Access Stories of Solar Home System Users in Rwanda photography exhibition opened at Kigali's Impact Hub in Kiyovu. It will stay open to the public until the end of May.
The exhibition is one of two to showcase the results of a series of participatory photography workshops and energy mapping discussions with Solar Home Systems (SHSs) users across Rwanda which were conducted in March. The second one will be held at Impact Hub King's Cross in London, opening on June 9th.
A considerable crowd gathered on the night of the opening, attracting a diverse audience from within the energy sector in Rwanda, the arts and culture, private and public sectors, sustainable development and beyond. Having had the time to enjoy the photographs, each of which tells a different story of households where solar energy has been adopted, the audience watched a short 'behind the scenes' movie which myself and my assistant shot in the course of working on this project.
The feedback so far has been very positive and encouraging. "I love the fact that you gave a camera to people and let them put it in their own words and pictures why energy matters to them", said one of the attendants. "The diversity of pictures was very nice. Also, crazy how much electricity changes!", said another.
Certainly, access to energy, even at a basic level which may only include lights, mobile phone charging and a radio, can be hugely transformative. Raising awareness of the impacts it has on people's lives was one of the goals I had in mind when applying for support to carry out this project. It seems to be happening: many admitted they had little idea about how many people still live without electricity in their houses, and how much changes in their lives when they gain access. From having a bright place in the evening, to being able to freely move around, children being able to study and play around the house, work hours being extended, and much more- energy is a necessity which should not be denied to anyone, regardless of how wealthy or poor they are. That's why there is such a great need for a range of energy access solutions that can be made available and affordable for every household and every individual, particularly in a country like Rwanda where still nearly 3/4 of the population do not have access to the grid.
Special thanks to all participants who dedicated their time to us, eagerly engaging in discussions around energy access and sharing their stories through photos, which they approached in such a creative way. Additionally, thanks to BBOXX for continued support and to the Public Engagement Unit at University College London for choosing to fund this project. And to everyone who has come to see the exhibition and supported us on this journey.