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Zimbabwe: Capturing CAMFED’s Work on Camera

©CAMFED/Mark Read
On the road to success: two girls in Zimbabwe embark on the long journey to school

December 2005 - Two years ago, photographer Mark Read spent ten days in one of the poorest regions of Zimbabwe meeting dozens of young women who have been able to go to school with CAMFED’s support. The result was 120 rolls of beautiful photographs, which were turned into an inspiring book about CAMFED’s work called I Have a Story to Tell.

Now Mark has just returned from a trip to Zambia, where he was gathering photographs for a second book about CAMFED’s work with Executive Director Ann Cotton. It was an unforgettable experience.

“Photographing these amazing women in their communities, it is clear what incredible role models they are,” says Mark.

“Their strength in overcoming such hardships is inspiring a generation of school children.”

Mark has travelled the world as a photojournalist for the past 12 years, working for magazines and newspapers including National Geographic and the Guardian, as well as documenting the work of charities such as Amnesty International and Plan International. He was inspired to pick up a camera when he met veteran journalist John Pilger at a party in Australia when he was just 19 years old.

“I am interested in telling people’s stories through photographs,” says Mark. “The main challenge is not just to capture a portrait but to set the context of their lives. You have to do a lot of thinking on your feet.”

Mark recalls one such moment, when he had to scurry around catching chickens in a dusty yard in Zimbabwe so he could document the success story of Siphelani Chomuzinda, who set up a poultry-rearing business with a loan from CAMFED after her husband left her with a two-week-old baby.

“I’m really pleased with these photos,” says Mark. “People seemed to genuinely love having their photograph taken, so it was easy to build up a relationship with them. It also says a lot about CAMFED’s work that people were so friendly and open.”

For Mark, meeting such inspiring people is one of the best parts of his job.

“It’s a real privilege to be a photographer,” he says. “You get to travel all over the world and meet amazing people. If I didn’t earn any money from photography, I would still do it. I feel amazingly lucky.”



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Photo essay

A selection of images from
I Have a Story to Tell