Supporter Spotlight: Loraine Bolen

This week in our supporter spotlight, we’re featuring Loraine Bolen, who traveled with e3kids to Kenya in March 2014. Although she has been a photographer for 30 years now, this was her first journalist assignment.  Since this was Loraine’s first travel experience to Kenya, and was behind the lens, she was able to have a different perspective during her trip. I was blessed to have a sit down talk with her about her time spent at Royal Kids Schools in Kenya.

e3kids: What did you expect before traveling to Kenya for the first time?

Loraine: I knew it would be much poorer than I had ever seen before. I expected to spend time with the children as well.

e3kids: How was your experience in Kenya?

Loraine: It was a good experience; all the people were warm and welcoming. You know that they are poor, but at the same time you didn’t know they were poor; they don’t have that sense of poverty like we do here in America. There was always a sense of happiness and you could tell the children felt very blessed to be at school and have an education. I was also amazed at how the teachers don’t complain about how many hours they work at school. It was definitely a life changing experience.

e3kids: So was your experience different from your expectations?

Loraine: It was! Job wise I went into this trip knowing I had specific goals in mind for what type of photos I would take, but when I got there it was very hot and I had to cool off in-between shooting, so I wasn’t able to get as much done as quickly as I had wanted. Experience wise I was just amazed of how hardworking the people were; how no matter what they would just keep going and never give up.

e3kids: So you did have a specific photography goal that you wanted to accomplish while you were in Kenya. From this goal, how was seeing Kenya ‘through the lens’ different than seeing it normally?

Loraine: Through taking pictures of people you can feel the warmth and welcoming that they are portraying in such a unique way. My favorite was taking photos of the children; they are the same on film as they are in real life. They all want to be silly and crazy; whether its making faces or making silly hand signs. Because I was ‘behind the lens’ I really tried to capture the true essence of the children’s spirit, to capture them as who they are; not as neglected little people who have nothing to live for. They are loving, happy, and spirited children, and I wanted to be able to capture that on film. It was also interesting to be able to see many juxtapositions while I was there. One that really stood out to me was taking a photo of their school notebooks and set on top is a cell phone. It’s like having one foot in the past and one in the present/future; you have the old, traditional notebooks on bottom, and sitting on top is the digital age of cell phones. It was definitely interesting to see that present, especially in a 3rd world country.

e3kids: From this ‘behind the lens’ perspective, if you had to pick a photo you took in Kenya that defined your experience, what would it be?

Loraine: In general, any photo of the children; just capturing their happiness and their spirit was a different experience that I have had before. One of my favorites was of two sisters who were holding hands. When I met them they were very sweet, but also very protective of each other, and told me they wanted a photo taken together as sisters. It really showed the love that they have for each other. Another one of my favorite photos is one of inside the school at Royal Kids. It’s of the desks in the classroom with the window open and there is a breeze blowing the curtain into the room. To me, it represents the simple things in life; basic needs such as air, water, sunshine, and a place to put your books. It showed me that nothing needed to be overdone, that it’s okay to be simple.

Thank you Loraine for all the wonderful photos you have taken for e3kids! Connect with Loraine and see more of her work here.

-Maggie B

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