Kasisi Orphanage

Lusaka, Zambia

by Elizabeth Whelan

This Kasisi web page was designed by Elizabeth as a part of an undergraduate directed reading course taken with Fixing Shadow's editor. After graduation
Elizabeth has traveled far and wide with her camera. She now hosts her own impressive web site: www.elizabethwhelanphotography.com. Taked a look.

During the summer of 2000, I spent nearly two months volunteering at Kasisi Orphanage 30 kilometers outside of Lusaka, Zambia's capital city. During my stay at Kasisi, I also photographically documented the orphanage, returning with about 150 rolls of film, resulting in over 5,000 black and white images, some of which are displayed here.

The summer of 2000 was not my first experience in Zambia, though. My family lived in Lusaka for five years from when I was seven to twelve years old. During this time, my family would periodically go to the orphanage to visit. My mother, also my sixth grade teacher, started a pre-school at the orphanage run by women from the English and American embassies. When she became a sixth grade teacher, she would take her class once a month to Kasisi to teach pre-school.

Seven years later, I still wanted to return to Kasisi. So, I devised a plan to go to the orphanage to volunteer there and complete a photo essay, with the hope of ultimately exposing Kasisi's needs to those who might be able to assist the orphanage. The number of orphans in Zambia due to AIDS, sickness, and poverty is overwhelming, leaving children alone in a country with no network of support other than family members, who are often just as poorly equipped. While Kasisi is by no means solving the problem of orphans in Africa, it an integral part of the solution in Lusaka, Zambia. Kasisi's children are fed, clothed and receive simple medical atention, which is more than can be said for the majority of Zambia's children. The photo essay which I am in the process of completing allows me to face the challenge of personalizing an issue about which I feel strongly; the growing orphan population in Africa. My photo essay, upon completion, is aimed towards allowing those here, half a world away, to identify with the faces of Kasisi's children in the hopes that they might see the orphanage's struggle to provide adequate care for its children, internalize the problem by looking at the photographs, and by doing so, be mobilized to make an effort to change the situation in whatever capacity one is able.

The photographs on this website are only a fraction of the photographs that I took while there. Sorting and printing these photographs could easily be a full time job; however, I am currently a third-year student at the University of Virginia, so that is not feasible. This website is the product of an independent study I am conducting under the guidance of Professor J. David Sapir of the Anthropology Department.

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