I worked at CFC as an intern during the summer of 2005, from around June to September. I had the privilege of working with a great team comprising of both interns and CFC permanent staff. Everyone involved sought not only to contribute to the community, but to maximise their respective personal experiences as much as possible through the project.
I was glad to be able to contribute something to CFC at a stage where Sheila was looking to build upon CFC’s credibility and foundations. Moreover, the way the entire team centred in on the task of renovating and rebuilding the clinic ended up being somewhat demonstrative of CFC’s commitment to both the community and its broader ambitions. This was important not only with respect to donors, trustees and local residents but also to the staff themselves, who had in many ways become disillusioned by some of the prior administrators.
With CFC I was fortunate to be assigned a fair degree of responsibility and liberty, though Sheila and the accounts people kept a close tab on our expenses. Together Rahmat, Parvez and I were able to coordinate the construction teams (masonry – electric, painting and carpentry). Strikes in the city and false promises by some of the masons cost us two or three days, but for the most part we stuck to the schedule and rebuilt the clinic within 20 days. To make up for lost time Parvez worked Sundays. Moreover, the three of us were consistently engaged in physical construction ourselves (brickwork and carpentry), which was fun for me anyway.
On those occasions where we were able to leave the workers on autopilot, I had to photographically document Machar Colony for the brochure. Both Parvez and Rahmat were disarmingly polite and helpful to the local people which allowed us to move freely within the community. Obtaining photographs of houses, schools and children was greatly facilitated by their courtesy, not to mention Rehmat’s ability to speak Pashto. Still, general suspicion and Pakistani social propriety did prevent me from gaining access to some areas which would have allowed for some great photos. However, I did get to know a lot of the local kids pretty well, who then lead me to a couple of excellent vantage points within the colony. The swimming hole was one such place, as were the sewage draining points.
Once the rebuilding was complete, I focused on editing the photos and putting together the new brochure and logo. Unfortunately by that time my date of departure for University had nearly arrived. Though I completed the brochure in electronic format, I was unable to follow through and help CFC with the problems it faced in during finishing and printing.
By the time I left in September I could feel the very important difference the project had made in the local residents and in the staff. In a more tangible sense, I could see the difference in the clinic and I was proud to have been a part of that. I was later told that the patient turnover at the clinic had multiplied as a result. Moreover I was very happy to hear that the scope of the project and the responsibilities of the staff involved have since increased, and continue to do so. CFC’s performance since that summer and especially during the tragic events following the South Asian Quake serves to evidence the organizations phenomenal growth in capacity and efficiency since it was restructured in 2005.
Given that I am primarily a law student and not a photographer, I am honoured to be able to contribute to this exhibition. My objective in taking these pictures was pretty straightforward. I wanted to connect with the subjects in these photographs and personalise the relevant issues, so as to prevent myself from ever becoming disassociated or dispassionate. I hope everyone attending this exhibition extracts the same sentiment.