Posts Tagged ‘rwanda’

Rwandan Mountain Gorillas

I have some time between classes, and an upcoming assignment in Nairobi, which allowed me to take a pretty magical hike yesterday.
I spent four hours or so on an amazing journey to see the mountain gorillas at Volcano National Park in Rwanda. It was truly one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. Here are some images:

Mountain Gorillas, Rwanda – Images by Brent Foster

A Teachers Blog-Week 2

After two weeks together, the third year Journalism and Communications students, and I wrapped up our course at the National University of Rwanda.
I couldn’t be happier with the results.

The students came back with some surprisingly solid images given the fact this was the first experience shooting a photo essay, and using a camera for most of them.

On top of that using point and shoot cameras with 10 people to a camera provides it share of challenges, to say the least.

Here’s a look at some of the images they brought back from a great two weeks together. In three weeks I will start a new course in Kigali at the Great Lakes Media Center.

Students Pictures-National University of Rwanda – Images by 3rd Year Students

A bloody day in Kigali

The scene of the attack the next day

It sounded like a canon.
As I sat drinking a coffee and discussing my teaching experience at the University with my colleague we heard a thundering thud.
I knew it wasn’t a gunshot, but never would I have expected a bloody attack had occurred about a hundred yards from where I sat.
Bertha and I looked at each other. “What was that?,” she said. I replied saying I was confident it wasn’t shots fired, and the thought of an attack simply didn’t occur to me. Not in the Rwanda I know.
Bertha and I looked around, gauged the reaction, or lack thereof, of the others around us, finished our coffees, and left on motorcycle taxis.

It was only when our friend Sam arrived at the Rwanda Initiative house that we learned what had happened. At least two grenades were set off simultaneously, resulting in at least one person dead, and dozens injured.
No one knows who’s responsible for the attack. Rumors are circulating ranging from the arrival of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, racial tensions, and the upcoming elections.

As soon as I heard about the attack I grabbed my cameras and rushed back to the scene. I walked with Sam, Bertha, and another colleague, and we searched for the attacked areas, expecting police, people in distress, and news reporters.
There was nothing.
It wasn’t until we looked down at our feet in the area we thought was a scene of the attack, only to see they were covered in blood. We were standing literally on the site of the attack, and life went on around us like nothing had happened.

A teacher’s blog- Week 1

The first day wreaked of havoc from the beginning. I arrived into a tightly packed classroom of 71 students only to discover my fly was down. As I turned around to subtly pull it back up, I realized the zipper was broken. Great. Not only that, but the speakers, laptop, and everything I had prepared weren’t exactly going to work all to well in a brightly sun-lit classroom, with one plug.

Things turned around quickly though. We moved the class into a much larger room, found an extension cord, and started to project images and multimedia onto a white sheet. The rest of the week has been golden… sort of.

To give you a little background, I’m here in land of 1000 hills, otherwise known as Rwanda, teaching multimedia and online journalism. I’m currently at the National University of Rwanda in Butare, and following that, I’ll be at the Great Lakes Media Center in Kigali for three weeks.

I was brought here by Rwanda Initiative, a Canadian NGO that recruits teachers from all over, and brings them to Rwanda to teach.

So far, the biggest challenge has been supplies. I came with several cameras in tow, donated by the Toronto Star, but even combined with those, we have 7 working point and shoots for 71 journalism students… not exactly ideal.

At the University sits a box of old Nikon D1s that have been donated from media organizations all over the world …none of them are working.

So, we’re doing what we can. Groups of 10 are going out with one camera, and learning to build sequences, shooting wide, medium and tight, how to white balance, shoot environmental portraits, features, and photo essays. They’re
excited, and so am I. Each day, the pictures improve ten fold.

All in all, things have been great so far. The students are very attentive, and have learnt quickly to come to class on time after realizing I was serious about blocking the door with a desk at 8:35 each morning. Deadlines are deadlines:)

Teaching in Rwanda

Kigali Street Scene, 2009

I’m really excited to be off to teach journalism for in Rwanda in February with Canadian NGO Rwanda Initiative. I had the opportunity to stay with them earlier this year when working on a story on the anniversary of the genocide, and have been looking for an excuse to return ever since…

From their website: “Carleton University’s School of Journalism and Communication, Canada’s premier journalism school, is spearheading this initiative to collaborate with its counterpart at the National University of Rwanda (NUR), in Butare.
The central aim is to address the shortage of journalism educators in Rwanda, to build capacity, to improve journalism standards in the country and to forge a partnership between the two universities.
In addition to providing the School of Journalism and Communication in Butare with consistent access to visiting teachers, the project has a major curriculum development and exchange component and also includes media-training workshops in Rwanda for working journalists, jointly organized by Carleton and NUR.”

TIME and Digital Journalist

I have a new piece up today on telling a story from Rwanda marking the 15th anniversary of the genocide. Check it out if you have a chance.

Also, please check out this months issue of the Digital Journalist. There’s an email exchange between guest editor Jerry Lazar from KobreGuide and myself talking about why I decided to leave the LA Times, and how freelancing in India has been so far. The whole issue is filled with amazing contibutors and stories.

I will see you again, Congo.


It was a letdown. A three hour bus ride out of Kigali, and as the pave road turns to well, not so paved road, I arrived to the border.

I met the fixer I was working with on the Rwandan side, and we made our first attempt to cross. Armed with my letter from a major newspaper, US cash marked after 2001, and my gear, I was told that the rules have changed and a visa must be requested 48 hours in advance.

After finding an internet café and emailing a letter to the government’s yahoo email, the fixer went directly to the head offices in Goma, with copies of my passport, letters, and everything else that comes with applying for a visa. 24 hours later, I was in. 24 hours after that I was out…

It turns out as I am told, that two American journalists had been arrested for working without a press card issued by North Kivu. I expected to read about this in the news when I returned to Kigali. The director who issued the press cards had also been arrested. Basically, things became a waiting game. I spent most of my time sitting in an office waiting for someone to issue me the $250 USD card, so I could work “freely.”

It got to the point that it was simply too expensive to wait any longer. That afternoon, I made the heartbreaking decision to leave and head back to Rwanda. This was a self-funded part of my trip, and I simply couldn’t justify spending the kind of money I’d be spending to sit, and wait. It seemed to much of a risk to do “too” much traveling around without the issued card.

Things have changed since November, I am told. Perhaps they have. Perhaps is was bad luck. Perhaps bad timing on my part with these arrests, and the arrival of the President in Goma that day.

Regardless, certainly a place I will return to. I left frustrated, fascinated, and excited to come back.

Back to India Monday.

Continent hopping

I’m in Africa for a couple weeks working so please excuse the lack of blog postings. Wow. What a place. Currently, I’m in Rwanda where I’ve been working on a story for TIME along with a piece for another client, breathing in the not so smoggy air and looking at greenery…two things I’m not all that accustomed to after spending a couple months in Delhi.

It’s truly been a great trip so far. I’ve made some great friends and met some incredibly talented people who’ve helped me along the way. I’ve also learned(o.k. tried) not to dance like a white dude. Not sure that’ll ever change even though my moves in the club are certainly improving.

Tomorrow I’m off to the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Something I can finally mention now that I’ve told my mom)

Will try to get a post up this week providing I can get a decent connection, and time allows.

Back to Delhi on the 17th.