When a big bus drops off 20 students and teachers at the busy town market, people notice.
Matola’s market is not on Mozambique’s tourist path, so our cameras were met with some suspicion at first. This was our second day shooting the informal economy in Maputo. We had to earn our photographs and interviews with honesty, manners and grit. We explained why we were there and asked permission person by person before proceeding with our assignment. Most vendors and shoppers, when confronted with our earnest participants’ pleas, obliged, but there were some “No’s.” It stings to hear “No,” but success and failure are a part of life, and these teenagers are learning to cope with both. The environment was rich with opportunities, and every student returned with hard earned images and stories they were proud of. We now have pictures of welders, tailors, mat makers and carpenters.
We’ve known for a long time that our workshop is much more than a photography class, and it’s moments like today’s market challenge that emphasize this. Our students showed perseverance today that might have surprised them. But not us. We knew they had it in them.