The Kingdom of Children

We are very proud to finally present the result of several months of hard work. Thanks to the amazing team of director Sven Arild Storberget and film maker Kristoffer Kumar, we are now able to present to you through an amazing journey of visual pictures; the story of a young girl in the beautiful mountain Kingdom Lesotho, and what a PictureAid picture can do to help her achieve hear dreams. Please, have a look and feel free to pass it on to your friends and family:)

Moments from the mountain kingdom

Two weeks ago, we set out on a journey. The four of us trying to visualize the story of a PictureAid picture through video. The finished product will hopefully show you the process of where a PictureAid picture is captured, and with the people behind. Where its hung and what the power of a single image is capable of doing and creating. A wonderful team consisting of Kristian Harby (founder of PictureAid), Kristoffer Kumar (film photographer) and Sven Arild Storberget (researcher and director). We spend some insanely hectic , yet beautiful days in Lesotho. Here’s a small taste of a few of the many amazing moments we had together, and what eventually will lay the grounds of a small documentary that we will bring to you as soon as possible. Enjoy! :)

-Kathrine (Journalist, and PictureAid part-time employee)

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Finally we were on the road, and Kristian is stoked for driving his beloved land cruiser. Our journey could begin.

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Already on our way from Johannesburg to Lesotho, Sven Arild and Kristoffer started filming during the beautiful sunset.

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We met Mpho. A gorgeous girl you soon will get to know a lot better.

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This is Mphos younger siblings, looking at Kristians photos. Lineo, with the best laugh I have ever heard, and Karabo. Her eyes are truly hypnotizing.

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And these guys. Shorty and Sir Rocks A Lot. They light up the day. No doubt.

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They suddenly became our photographers, or paparazzis even. Natural talent.

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A few pit stops is much needed after hours on the road. Soccer it is.

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We met the coolest hipster in town.

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This is Malealea, a couple of hours outside Maseru. Where the atmosphere is unbelievable, and the electricity is non existing.

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Everybody looks sharp in helmets. They should be worn at all times. Not only when horseback riding.

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Kristoffer had never been on a horse before, which was significantly reflected in his facial expression. One of my most entertaining moments just observing him preparing to climb up. After we came back from the hike, we were told to write some words about our experience in this book. He wrote one word; “Epic”. I agree.

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OK, now let me introduce you to The Man. Or Lithapelo as he’s called. (Obviously not the person on the picture above but hold on) After driving over 3000 kilometres, we found out the spare wheel on the roof of our Land Cruiser wasn’t attached to the car at all. We freaked out a little, but he took matters in his own hands. Drove to this hardware store, and when he came back, he did not only had the equipment he needed for the car…

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…He also bought a sheep’s head. In the hardware store(!).  Apparently it was really good. I didn’t taste it.

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Lets not forget his fascination of Vikings. The hours in the trunk of the car probably flew by, as he read about Roald Amundsen.

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Then there’s Small who were patient enough to hang out with us every day. Look at his big smile. Contagious. A huge thanks to all your help during these days!

The Happy Campers. Kathrine, Kristian, Kristoffer and Sven.

The Happy Campers. Kathrine, Kristian, Kristoffer and Sven.

I would, first of all, just like to say thank you to Kristian for giving me the chance to be a part of this journey. This experience. Because it truly has been one. So many new memories have been created, and I will carry them with me forever.

Before this trip, I had never been to the continent of Africa. It was all so new to me, and to be honest, a bit frightening. Before I landed that is. From the minute all four of us got into the car, and headed to Lesotho, I embraced it all.

As to explaining our days, I guess there is no better way to show you than through pictures, as I have tried above. That’s the beauty of bringing the camera. I can share all of these captured moments. I hope you'll enjoy them.

Through several of my posts here on the blog, I have mentioned how wonderful the people is. I don’t think I can repeat myself to often. They are. As are the country itself. I can’t believe I haven’t been here before. I guess my expectations were high in beforehand, but after experiencing it, my impressions have blown out of proportions. Really.

Some of the moments that really stand out for me are when we got to meet the children at their schools. The kids I have seen so many times on the PictureAid pictures. I finally got to meet them, talk, and listen to them. Listen to their thoughts, dreams and goals, which was truly inspiring. The big smiles. The positivity. It’s so enjoyable, that these PictureAid pictures is able to give these children the opportunities they so clearly deserve. I can’t believe I get to be a part of this movement. One picture. That’s all it takes, to enhance a child’s future.

I should wrap this up by saying that I have truly fallen in love with the wonderful kingdom of Lesotho. It’s so beautiful. Every step forward in this country is a picture worthy.

Kathrine

Join us for a car ride

Let me try to describe a day on the road for you. The roads have pretty high standard, but with some holes here and there. Big ones. Some of them can probably destroy the car, which obviously concerns Small (I will introduce you to him later). “Hey Kristian! There are a lot of holes in the tarmac, you know. So please don’t forget about the luggage in the trunk. Food, beverages, human being, camera equipment. A lot of expensive stuff back here”. Fair enough.

Then, while adding a few more miles on the odometer, there is so much to observe.

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Our hotel is in the middle of Mareru, the capital. Its not that big, but the traffic can still get chaotic at times. But don’t worry, Kristain manages it just fine. Great driver.

Lesotho is a country with few cities, and a lot of farmland. We pass small villages at times, but mostly it feels like you are in the middle of nowhere. But still, if we haven’t passed a house in miles, you still see people everywhere. Whether if its herds walking their cattle, or an old woman just sitting there. All you can see is fields and mountains, and they just sit there. I wish I had the patience to do that. It’s beautiful just to watch them.

After a while, with nothing but great fields, you enter a town. The main streets are mostly supermarkets, stands, fast food restaurants and a whole lot of people. There are people everywhere. Shopping, working, or just hanging out.

Lesotho has git a good atmosphere.

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And every once in a while, the guys have to go point the other direction.

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Kathrine

Joy and happiness

After spending some days here, I always find my self comparing every little thing with Norway, and our everyday life. And the more I see, the more impressed I get.  Impressed with all the joy and happiness. 

The other day we went to a high school, and followed the kids to a football match when their day ended. And on our way to the football field, I suddenly I feel like I’m in a musical. One of the kids starts singing, another one joins him, and after a couple of seconds, there’s a big group of kids singing and dancing around. Regardless if you’re 7 or 17, boy or girl. If you’re having a good time, show it by song and dance. I just sit there and observe. The rhythm is indescribable.

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Ps. just to make you guys a bit more jealous, as we speak, I’m laying outside by the pool writing. Some day at the office.

Kathrine

Making Friends

Hola amigos!

Were back from yet another long day in Mafeteng. Not that I’m complaining. Far from it!

The guys spent most of the day filming, so what did I get to do? Play with the children. All day long. It was so much fun. We don’t speak the same language and they are not used to being around others than the neighbours. But with these children, that is the smallest problem. As I mentioned earlier, they are so welcoming, nice and playful. The energy these guys have is crazy, and it never ends.

Let me introduce you to some of my new friends. This is Shorty and Sir Rocks A Lot. Shorty is this amazing kid. Calm, yet all over the place. He’s gonna be a professional football player one day, I’m sure. And Sir Rocks A Lot. Well, the name says it all. This guy knows how to dance. He put on quite the show today. Here they are:

From the left: Shorty and Sir Rocks A Lot

From the left: Shorty and Sir Rocks A Lot

Now I’m late for dinner and some local wine with the boys. Really looking forward to it.

You’ll hear more from me in the morning!

Have a great one

Kathrine

Day two - Red Cross and meeting the children

Hello again!

We just came back to the hotel after a 12 hour long day out and about in Lesotho, filming for the movie we are making. My head is full of new impressions. I have seen more great places of this beautiful country, and I have met some amazing people. All of the sudden I find my self in a situation on the car ride home. Just picture this; you are surrounded by three pale Norwegians. In the passenger seat there is one relatively loud African man screaming in his telephone, and the same in the trunk of our Land Cruiser. (Which is completely normal here. Why only carry five people, when you have room for more?) On the stereo there’s Alf Prøysen singing his tunes, and outside you can still glimpse some of the unbelievable African sunset. This is what I call contrasts.

But we have not spent all of our day in the car, of course. This morning we went to the Red Cross offices here in Maseru, where we met the president of Red Cross in Lesotho. A vigorous man who told us a lot about the society, and what they do.

Kristian with the President of the Red Cross Society in Lesotho.

Kristian with the President of the Red Cross Society in Lesotho.

Later we drove out of town to meet the Programmes Director in Red Cross, Mrs Matsepo Moltesane. An inspiring woman, who works hard to help children with focus on education.

Kristian, Sven Arild and Kristoffer filming Matsepo.

Kristian, Sven Arild and Kristoffer filming Matsepo.

The last visit we had today was with a girl named Mpho and her family up in the mountains just outside Mafeteng. She is one of the children PictureAid have been able to give education. I am so glad I got to meet them. They were extremely welcoming and open. The kids and I immediately started throwing ball outside the house. And with ball I mean a round item they had made out of plastic bags. Worked like a charm. 

More pictures coming up soon.

Have a great day!

Kathrine :)

Kathrine in Africa - Presentation and travelling

Hi!

My name is Kathrine Western, and I have over the last few months become a part of the PictureAid family. I have studied journalism in Australia and Norway, and as a part time job, I feel lucky to call myself Head of big and small talk at PictureAid. I will help PictureAid in different forms of communication with friends, customers and everyone else that might be interested in reading what we are doing and trying to create at the super tiny PictureAid office at Hasleveien in Oslo.

During a period of time we will not be at the office in Oslo. Kristian has invited me to Africa. Africa! Huge! We are going to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho - pretty tiny, but as I have heard – pretty beautiful. Even though it is beautiful it`s a struggling country. HIV and AIDS have left this country without a parental generation, and left the children to manage on their own. In 2013, together with our fantastic partners, friends and customers, we support fifty orphans with their education. And now I am finally going to meet these amazing children. I can’t wait!

I am going to tell you, as a kind of ordinary but adventures girl from Norway, how my encounter with this country and these children really are. It`s my first time in Africa, in Lesotho and on a trip with PictureAid. I will try my very best to describe to you how this feels, and maybe bring some of the impressions all the way back to the other side of this planet. 

It will be me together with three boys on this trip. Kristian Harby - the founder of PictureAid, film photographer Kristoffer Kumar and Director/ researcher Sven Arild Storberget. Our final mission for this trip is to make a movie that will show you the full story of a PictureAid picture - from getting to know its origins. You will get to know the people and stories behind the pictures, and follow its journey until its hung on a office wall back home.

Looking forward to sharing this with you - hang tight and you will soon be updated!

- Kathrine Western. Maseru, capital of Lesotho, 1st of may 2013 ( just checked in)

The amazing mountain kingdom of Lesotho - where and why?

Where to start..?

Well, its a good idea to start in Johannesburg.. After about 5-6 hours of driving, and one of the most amazing sunsets ever seen, the boarder of Lesotho will greet you with its lowest point in the whole country; 1400 metres. This also happens to be the highest - lowest point of any country in the world. It is safe to say this is a proper mountain Kingdom. With a official population of somewhere around 2,2 million and a unofficial one of about 3,5 million, its not a particularly big country but not a small one either.

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I first met with Lesotho, its amazing landscape and even more amazing people in 2012. On my trip to Soweto in Johannesburg, me and a friend had brought some soccer gear from the national coach of Norway. We had agreed to deliver this to the LSRC (the Lesotho Red Cross Society), in the country which he had visited and fallen so much in love with the year before.  

When you come there, you will immediately understand why - this amazingly beautiful place was like nothing I had even seen before. Its culture and its people, living in the same harmony I can only imagine Norway and other western countries were like in the early 20th century. There are a few small cities, with the capital of Maseru as the biggest with its aprx. 250 - 400 000 in population. But the vast majority of people are living in rural areas where the cars and loud horns are still non existent. There are only donkeys, horses, fields of cabbages, beautiful landscapes and smiles from sunrise to sunset.

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But, then you go deeper and you get to learn to know the country even more. Because of its natural beauty and expression of peace and calm, the big contrasts to its actual past and present will become even stronger, and it will hit you hard. 

Lesotho has somewhere in the range of 120 000 children living without their parents. "The lost generation" - the non existent parental generation. All of sudden it hits you, where are they? Lesotho is a kingdom of children. Beautiful children. But too many of them are managing on their own. The generation which gave birth to them is totally vanished because of AIDS, leaving so many of the children behind, infected and alone. On my trips inside of rural Lesotho, it became quite common to get to know fifteen, sixteen year old girls, supporting themselves and their family of maybe five or six younger siblings.

Still, 30% of the entire country is infected with HIV/ AIDS, and in urban areas as much as 50% of all woman under the age of 40. With a life expectancy of 42 years for men and woman, a glance at the future might not be so bright after all. 

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But, things are slowly changing. After meeting with the Lesotho Red Cross Society and observing the very important work they are doing, with very limited budgets, in their OVC (orphans and vulnerable children) programme, I got impressed. Medication is now available for most children, and they are working hard to raise money for nutrition and education so that the children once again are able to dream and realize their potential. 

It is quite ironic that in some of the poorest countries in the world, education is an expensive luxury. The future lies in the hands of the children, and without the proper tools to make the most out of it, they are bound to continue the legacy of the generation before them. Primary schools in Lesotho are now free for all children to enter, but they still need money for books and uniforms. After they finish primary school at the age of twelve, the real problems begin. Not only do they need their uniforms, materials and books - but school fees are now a fight most children cant afford to win. 

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In 2012, we decided to partner up with the Lesotho Red Cross society to help them in their fantastic work in supporting the children of Lesotho with the potential of a new future through education. In 2013, PictureAid are supporting fifty children in five different schools and areas, with the necessary tools for them to make the most out of their childhood. This include materials, uniforms, school fees, and in the cases where it is needed; nutrition. The LRCS also has local volunteers and representativs in the communities they work, and a important task is also to offer the children, most of them orphans, mental support in terms of school and in other matters.  

We are proud to work with such an amazing organization, and to give them a small hand in creating a huge difference in the future lives of Lesotho`s next generation. We are also proud on behalf of all our friends which has made this happend by transforming their naked, white walls in to symbols of change.

Thank you,

Kristian

A new year. A new language. A new site. The same mission

new year and new possibilities. I am writing in English, which symbolizes the start of what will become the standard on this new site from now on. This is basically because I think that most of our friends and customers understand this language, but not all of you understand Norwegian. Unfortunately, at this point I dont have the capacity to translate everything into two languages, but in time I hope that we can do this. The most important thing is that the PictureAid concept and its stories are available for everyone that is interested, and especially the people we meet and document around the world

Welcome! This is a brand new start for PictureAid. So many things has happend within the last year, that I felt a strong urge to develop the "look and feel" of PictureAid as well. I hope this new web site will be a symbol of how far we have come, and the long way travelled since we first started out in may 2010. I am forever grateful with so many friends and contributors that has helped us out during the last 2,5 years. Without you, PictureAid would never have been more than a crazy and passionate idea. Since this is the launch of our new web site, I would like to use the opportunity to especially thank the wonderful Silje Feiring which created the look of our first web site and the great people at Spire that programmed it. The second one was created with the help and energy from the fantastic people at HEI! and my good friend Jørund Eek. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

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This new site will be all about the pictures and their stories. I hope to create a minimalistic site that does not distract your focus and the ability to read the pictures in a way that hopefully can make you feel like you were there in that setting. I have tried to explain the concept with as few words as possible so its easy to navigate around, and I will save all of my "smalltalk" to this blog section of the site. 

hope you will enjoy this new site. I hope you will keep following us in our mission to make photography world wide a source and a tool to create new futures through education. I pledge a promise that I will be a better "blogger", and be better at keeping you updated on what is happening in the PictureAid world. I will write more and less at the same time - more often, with less letters. So much has happend but the most exiting part is still ahead of us. Soon you will be able to read about both. I had a dream that I put into life almost three years ago. The idea has developed and matured into something which can actually be implemented and conducted, but the ambition and the passion are still the same as when I first started: Video uploaded June 4, 2010

With every picture sold - education is given back to a child in need. The idea has developed. But, it all started with the video above. Education is extremely important to children in developing countries. They are the ones needing it the most, and the ones that has the hardest time getting it. Not only are they often born into a future of total uncertainty, but if the live to grow up their options as an adult will only contain limitations. Why should a child be limited only by the demographic settings they are born in to? Imagine the potential if everyone in this world could free their true dreams and make them possible.. I say no more, only hoping to see the that day. 50 children are today attending school because so many people in addition to my self believed in this crazy idea. When we meet our budget in 2013, 160 children will receive support for their education in 2014. Hopefully people will continue believing. The PictureAid movement is just getting started and I am sincerely grateful to you for being a part of it. Stay in touch!  

- Kristian Harby

Through meaningful and beautiful photography, PictureAid is creating a new arena for companies and individuals to decorate their naked walls, whilst allowing them to create a social improvement in the world
— The PictureAid idea