#ExperteerSpotlight: How this Photographer Captured Stories for Impact in Tanzania

Alexandra

Program manager at MovingWorlds.org

Megan Senior is used to seeing the world through the lens of her camera. As a freelance photographer, she explores the world from this vantage point to capture images that tell stories without words. As a social changemaker, she is passionate about using her skills to empower others, and she joined MovingWorlds to find the best way to leverage them for good.

Megan in Tanzania
Megan with Orkeeswa School Students in Tanzania

Through the guided matching process, Megan partnered with the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania (IEFT), a non-profit supporting ongoing holistic education programs for underserved communities in rural Tanzania. For many in the community, IEFT offers the only opportunity to continue past the primary level of education. Camera in hand, Megan traveled to Tanzania to capture their impact — read on to see how her photos helped IEFT scale their impact.

What were you doing before Experteering, and what inspired you to “take the leap”?

Before experteering I was freelancing, working job to job. I enjoy the autonomy of picking my own projects, and was ready to contribute my time and skills in different locations that lacked the resources to do so themselves. I’ve actually experteered with MovingWorlds twice now, first with Awamaki in Peru in 2017 and again in 2018 with IEFT in Tanzania. I had a great experience the first time, so when I decided to pursue another social impact project, I knew MovingWorlds could help me find what I was looking for. [Editor’s note: You can check out Megan’s portfolio here for samples of her work and photos from her trip!]

What did you do on your experteering trip?

During my time in Tanzania, I worked with IEFT to support their first community education project, the Orkeeswa School. On weekdays, I spent time at the school photographing students and teachers in classes and in after-school activities. I made sure to capture photos of each and every student so that when they graduate from 12th grade we can reflect on their progress and share in their success.

Orkeeswa Student Portrait
Student Portraits: Nanyori in her school uniform

We were able to capture tons of great photos, which I then worked with the school’s communications department to process into valuable marketing and PR materials. I worked with the IEFT team to develop digital design solutions for social media, print designs for the school newspaper, and marketing materials to distribute to potential donors and sponsors. Before returning home, I left the local communications team with a hard drive full of these and other archival images to be used in coming years to share the story of the school in the most impactful way.

Orkeeswa Students at School
Students at Orkeeswa School

I also supported the school in creating its annual report, which is a vital material for the school’s growth. We compiled a great collection of portraits of the graduating class. I also provided passport and ID photos if students were traveling for sports or other academic reasons.

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Lastly, I worked with the photography club, and I did some demonstrations with students that were interested in art.

Orkeeswa Student Photography Club
Orkeeswa Student Photography Club

What was the highlight of your experteering trip?

Getting to know the students and their families was the best! On the weekends, we would visit students at their homes with their families to capture fun photos and videos showing the daily life of an Orkeeswa student in rural Tanzania. The students worked so hard, both at school and home, and it was a privilege to be welcomed into both spheres of their lives.

Kelvin Student Portrait
Student Portraits: Kelvin, at home and at school

What was one thing you wish you knew before you went volunteering overseas?

Looking back, I wish that I had done more supplemental research on the conditions at my destination. The MovingWorlds best practices training is a great resource to learn how to approach your project and make a real impact, but don’t forget to do the secondary research as well! I wish I had done more research into specific weather conditions so that I would’ve been better prepared with what I packed — I knew that the rainy season was tapering off during my stay, but I didn’t realize how chilly it would be! [Editor’s note: great suggestion, Megan!]

What advice do you have for people thinking about Experteering?

  1. Be prepared! Think about the equipment you’ll need in advance and be sure to factor in those extra costs if you need to purchase additional gear. You will need two of every charger, battery, and hard drive to backup photos and documents! [Editor’s note: During your Experteering Planning Process, you’ll have the opportunity to ask your local organization representative questions to better understand local opportunities.]
  2. Make a list of things you want to accomplish during your experteering trip and do them all, the people you are helping need as much of you as you have, and you might not have a chance to return. Particularly for a shorter trip, it’s crucial to put in the work upfront to scope the project and align with your host so that when you arrive on-site you can hit the ground running.

How did your Experteering trip expand your network and build your resume?

I feel that my experteering experience will demonstrate to potential clients and employers that I’m resilient, adaptable, and can handle most any project. It’s empowering to prove to yourself and others that you can succeed in a new environment. Now that I’ve successfully worked in places that has different technology, living standards, and conveniences compared to the US, I am more confident in my own abilities to adapt and make it work.

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What were the biggest takeaways from your trip, and how will you translate this into your plans after Experteering?

Realizing how much you can contribute even if you don’t have or make a lot of money. There is always a way to help. I will continue to share my stories about the two amazing organizations I was matched with through MovingWorlds to spread the word about the experteering movement! [Editor’s note: Thanks, Megan!]

What was the most rewarding part of your trip?

The students! The youngest had just learned English, and they were so good at speaking English I thought they had learned it in Primary school. So every single thing they said to me and asked me was like a treasure.

Spending Time with Students and their Families in the Community
Spending time in the community with Orkeeswa Student (Zainabu) and her family

As we start this New Year and reflect on the year that’s passed, we’re grateful to experteers like Megan and hosts like IEFT who make the movement possible. If your New Year’s resolution includes growing personally and professionally, you can apply to be an experteer here. Where will 2019 take you?

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