Audio Interview: Nah Zone knows representation matters

Culture

“A theme that’s coming through a lot in our generation now is that the youth aren’t settling for a 9 – 5 job, going through school or going to uni.” Instead, just as Jonique Purcell has done – start her own music and culture website – youth are using the internet to commandeer their own futures and represent themselves. The bedroom producer/ dancer-choreographer and blog director begun Nah Zone as a personal passion in October 2017. It’s grown so fast that today she has a team with her and works a separate day job so she can keep building the community that’s formed around her website. She also does this with interviews of local artists, weekly top 5 playlists with local music makers and a section called ‘Keep It Real’ where people write in about personal experiences from losing a baby or dating someone who is suicidal.

Speaking of a theater show she danced in at the end of 2017 called Ave, Jonique says:

“Auckland is my home but even here you don’t have a real belonging so you’re kind of in-between and that’s what was really cool from that whole experience I got to bond with other people who also felt the same.” Directed by Tia Sagapolutele, the piece looked at six young women finding their identity as Kiwi-born Samoan living in Auckland city.

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Purcell says: I was very honored to be a part of that but it was also very emotional for me personally just discovering more things about my history because I don’t know that much about my Samoan history.

..You don’t really have a sense of belonging when you go back to Samoa because the people that live there, they’re still there and they’ll see you as a stranger, they’ll call you like Palagi.

Listen to the audio interview HERE.

Nah Zone are also going to host their first event at Neck of The Woods on May 25th check it out HERE.

Below is a video from the first event they did, You’re Welcome:

Legends: Xoe Hall paints Hinepūkohurangi with Tame Iti at Taneatua Gallery

Culture, Threads

Over cups of tea at Tame Iti’s place during Easter 2018, Artist Xoe Hall learned of the ancient Tūhoe legend Hinepūkohurangi who is said to have lured Te Maunga (the mountain) to earth from the heavens – thereby sparking the genesis of the Tūhoe people.

On New Zealand’s east coast, Tāneatua Gallery sits at the mouth of the entrance to the Uruwera’s where the Tūhoe people are from. Hall had exhibited at the gallery a few years ago with the Toi Wāhine collective, but on a different trip visiting her grandma in Ohope, she asked if she could paint a wall at the gallery and got an extra surprise when Tame ended up painting with her. Going against trends and mainstream expectation in their work is something Tame Iti and Xoe Hall have had in common for a long time. Recognised for her ode-to-iconocism style pieces or ‘Hero Art’, painting a Tūhoe legend and hero with a Tūhoe legend and hero is another out of this world achievement she can add to her ‘did’ list.

DS: How did this trip to Taneatua come about/what was the motivation behind the collab mural?
XOE: I visit my nana in Ohope a couple of times a year and always pop in to catch up with the crew at the gallery for a hang. One of those times I asked if I could paint a wall, and they said yes, so this time I took my painting gears and was over the moon when I realised Tame was going to be painting with me!

Even little nana came to hang out at @taneatuagallery55 😍 📷@trinalovespicasso

A post shared by Xoë Hall (@hallofxoe) on

DS: When was the first time you went to Taneatua Gallery?
XOE: Our all female Māori art collective from Porirua (then known as Toi Wāhine, now we are Hine Pae Kura), were asked to exhibit at the start of 2017. So we all jumped in a van with our work and camped out at the gallery for a few days. We had the best time ever.
DS: What did you know about Tame Iti before you met him?
XOE: Just the tip of the iceberg really, what most people would know, that Tame is an extremely interesting character. He is an iconic activist and artist who dresses super stylish when the occasion calls for it. I knew about the gallery and that my grandad was super stoked to have shaken Tame’s hand at a store one day.

DS: What did you love about collaborating with him?
XOE: I loved that he invited me into his home, and over a few cups of tea he told me the story of Hinepūkohurangi and the Children of the Mist. Local Tūhoe legend. I still didn’t realise at this point that he would be painting with me. When we got to the gallery, we both picked up a brush, and painted the story. I loved that while we were actually painting, not many words needed to be exchanged about how we were approaching it, and every now and then we would both step back and say damn that’s looking good.

DS: How long have you been painting and how did you get into it?
XOE: I have been painting since I was about three haha! I realised when I was 18 that I might actually be an artist, that little realisation was actually rather huge, once that clicked, I started really honing my self-taught skills.

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DS: Describe your artistic style and what and how you do your craft in your words?
XOE: Gosh that’s hard, as I have my fingers in many creative pies…. I would say I am multi-media cowboy pop surrealism artist??? It’s something I’ve never really wanted to pinpoint as I am forever evolving. Obviously I’m a little all over the show. I paint with acrylics, I use glitter for real life sparkle, I draw alot! I write stories and poems. I dabble in lead lighting. I love leather, so I paint on that too. I do embroidery, and apply many rhinestones to fabulous garments for fabulous people. Everything is self taught, but I am always learning through experiences and people I meet along the way.

DS: How have fashion and fashion icons been an influence on you?
XOE: Well, I am pretty obsessed with all things over the top and fabulous. I thought I was going to be a David Bowie when I grew up, so if I am going out, I go all out! Also, I hate anything on trend….even if I love it, I won’t wear what everyone else is, naturally that’s where my love of opshopping and making my own crazy clothes comes from. However when I am at home, it’s another story. Uggboots and hand knitted jerseys with no makeup and something horrendously comfortable on the lower half.

DS: You’re currently selling pieces at Hunters and Collectors in Wellington, what motivated you to do that and what pieces will you miss the most?
XOE: That’s all thanks to Chrissy and Charlotte. It was all their idea! Actually, I have been exhibiting works in that shop for quite some years now, so I can’t remember everything! But I am having a solo exhibition there in June, DUST BITER…so stay tuned for more.

DS: You’ve also been making custom designed jackets, how did you get into that and who has been your favourite person to design for so far?
XOE: I have been decorating special garments for many amazing people for about 10 years?? I guess I am currently buzzing out of my socks about the dress I got to decorate for Tami Neilson. Her new album SASSAFRASS, photos were taken by my bestie Ash AKA Dinosaurtoast and the shoot if featured on our fabulous website FEVER HOTEL.

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DS: What has been your favourite piece you’ve made to date?
XOE: Oh, I don’t have one! That’s like choosing a favourite colour, my mind changes too often. Anything that I don’t mind looking at still? Haha.

DS: So every artist has to work right? In the day you work at a TeacherTalk, what is that and how did you get into it?
XOE: Yes, 4 and a half years ago we started TeacherTalk, it’s just a small gang of us ladies in the office. We make up to date and awesome learning resources for kids. I work about 3-4 days a week, depending on how much work I have on with other commissions and exhibitions. I am the illustrator and creative writer. That work lead onto TeacherTalk publishing 3 of my childrens books. They are re-tellings of Māori legends.

DS: What do you love about working there?
XOE: That kids all over NZ are being taught with and growing up with my artwork. That’s very very cool. And that I do have the flexibility and time to be able to work on my own stuff in the studio when I need too.

DS: What do you love about working with and illustrating in te reo as well as Maori myths and legends?
XOE: When I was growing up, my dad would always tell us a very embellished princess story of our Ngāi Tahu ancestor Motoitoi, he was a great story teller. And knowing about this part of my history filled me with a magical feeling. I would feel the same when I would open one of Peter Gossages beautiful books. In fact my favourite all time illustrated book is still How Maui Defied the Goddess of Death. So it is really a dream come true to be able to tell stories myself, what’s not to love?!

DS:What do you love about being an artist and what advice would you give to others wanting to do it full time?
XOE: Nothing I say is going to sound better than how Patti Smith puts it…

“Build a good name. Keep your name clean. Don’t make compromises, don’t worry about making a bunch of money or being successful — be concerned with doing good work and make the right choices and protect your work. And if you build a good name, eventually, that name will be its own currency.” – Patti Smith …..I would just add on…throw away your TV!

FENTY/PUMA 2018 – Unapologetic @badgalriri is a living legend

Culture, Threads

Having been the brand ambassador for Puma since 2014, Rihanna now brings us her 2018 Fenty x Puma collection contrasting motocross and stilettos on a palette of eye popping, wallet hurting pastels. In 2017, an extension of that brand FENTY BEAUTY was named one of the 25 best inventions of the year by Time Magazine. Why? Because it’s inclusive to all women, in more shades than usual. She also had a street named after her in Barbados, featured in a science fiction film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and starred in Oceans 13 – with an all female cast it will premier in cinemas June 2018. Harvard also gave her the 2017 Humanitarian of The Year award for her charity work.

This woman and her work ethic has been cemented as a pillar in my ‘tools for inspiration’ because she is so un-apologetically herself, no matter what she’s doing she’s paving the way for young woman of colour to unpack prior notions of not being able to participate in mainstream pop-culture; since reports of her domestic violence incident with Chris Brown in 2009, she’s unapologetically swept the fashion music and beauty scene with a joint in her mouth, pulling both middle fingers in the air, subsequently becoming the mainstream. This month her 2018 Fenty/Puma collection came out and once again she’s being hailed as the pioneer fashion-rebel she is.

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Baby Mamas Club raises a fist for colored women in NZ

Culture

“Don’t you know, we’re talking about a revolution sound, like a whisper” — Tracy Chapman

Producer Mia Marama and Director Hanelle Harris are the duo behind a recent TV series called The Baby Mama’s Club. Unique in the way that it captures the lives of four young brown women from New Zealand, humorously linking them together on a quest to hunt down they’re children’s father Johnny who is missing, the series proved critics wrong when they said it was unoriginal, boring and no one would watch it. This criticism came among other concerns it wouldn’t sell and was therefore unworthy of a funding investment from NZONAIR.

Determined to execute their vision the pair self funded the pilot episode before receiving a $100,000 grant in the 2017 NZONAIR funding pool. “Our audience came in droves” offers Harris. Attention toward its potential came after the pilot episode racked up over half a million views.

“Let’s be real, we were probably one of the strongest applicants for that funding round – we had views on one pilot that amounted one projects total views in a season,” says Harris.

The pair are proud of their progress but plan to keep pushing representation of minority communities in mainstream NZ media. For Baby Mama’s Club the pair said TV executives didn’t interfere too much with their creative vision.”We were really privileged that the broadcaster was hands off but we’ve got really great executive producers at South Pacific Pictures. They’ll give their advice which comes from a raft of experience from making so many TV shows and they’re considering the budget and the feasibility of what we wanna pull off.. in the end I don’t think we cut anything really that I wanted to keep.”

“We’re so grateful for the support and people really need to understand we can’t do it without them, we don’t have the power. When people are asking us for season two or more episodes they need to really hear us when we’re saying the power’s not in our hands, its really in their hands. They need to be active and fight for it and hear us when we’re saying we have had to fight harder but it is a battle, we cant do it on our own,” says Harris.

Mia says “In order for us to be enabled to make anything as brown people it has to become a media sensation, so like Hanelle said, comment share post about it talk about it and support the kaupapa”.

“We have been able to prove to the primary broadcaster in the country that there is an audience for Maori and Pacific Island voices and they’ve come in droves, our audience has come in droves and TVNZ have been wonderful not only have they platformed us they’ve put us front and center.

Villette and Baby Mama’s Club cast at series premier, TVNZ December 2017

“Representation matters because it validates us as a people that should have an equal voice in society and when you don’t see yourself in media you are therefore an other and being an other means your voice doesn’t get heard and when it is heard….it doesn’t have as much weight…

It really is on that psychological level, you really are grooming the perceptions of people when you’re saying these are the faces that represent New Zealand that is what you are saying, when you are constantly seeing white faces on New Zealand screen you are telling the next generation, this generation, the one before it, that this is what New Zealand looks like and we know it’s not true,” says Harris.

Producer Mia Marama points out “As Polynesian peoples, story telling is a very natural and integral part of our culture, something that’s been happening for generations and generations so whether we’re channeling that in the media, music, film, television it probably hasn’t been done more because of opportunity, but I don’t think that limits us — as people we’ve already shown we’re resilient now we just need to continue to fight for those opportunities so that we can share those stories to a global audience because it’s clear now that people want to see it.

“Once Were Warriors, Whale Rider, Boy, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, these are films that have made millions and millions of dollars so the fact that we’re still trying to prove our ‘diverse’ stories can make money is tiresome.”

Hanelle says “I don’t want to be comparative to mainstream media, my goal is to be better than mainstream media in New Zealand and to be getting the money, not based on the fact that we have this cool, hip, niche audience but based on the fact that we’re fucken good and everyone likes it, and that’s the point which is that white people do love our show, they fuckin love it and I think there are actually white New Zealanders out there that agree that the New Zealand we see on TV is not the NZ they know and if you live in Auckland that’s definitely not the NZ that you’re seeing every day”.

In this interview for Ryz FM and The Plug they discuss NZ MUCIC, RACISM IN NEW ZEALAND, FEMINISM, TALL POPPY SYNDROME, HATERS, YOUNG FATHERS, and THE NEED FOR MORE genuine BROWN MEDIA & more.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW:

https://audioboom.com/posts/6559807-the-baby-mama-s-club-interview-by-aleyna-martinez

Watch Pilot episode HERE.

A GAME OF SKATE with Too’OnPoint

Culture, Interview

One brief decider using paper, scissors, rock, then twin brother Shingi Murare kicks off a ‘Game of Skate’ match versus his brother Muche, the pair known as Too’OnPoint  meet me at their local park in Flatbush, Barry Curtis Park. 

ALEYNA: So you guys grew up around here? I’m filming you.

SHINGI: Oh shit, yeah we did, we grew up like…. we’d skate 20 minutes down the road before they built this, everyday after school. Weekends I’d be here  first thing in the morning. It’s still probably one of the best skate parks in Auckland, but we didn’t have that much back then…Til we begged the council.

ALEYNA: Who’s we?

SHINGI: Like a lot of us, like the local skate shop as well

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ALEYNA: Which is?

SHINGI: Boardertown, my brother works there. So even though I got into music and shit, skating’s still …before I wanted to be a musician I wanted to be a proskateboarder. I was really passionate about it, now it’s just fun like what you do for exercise and to have fun, before, I took it too seriously.

MUCHE: And then it’s not fun.

ALEYNA: When did you come across the show Epicl’y Latered and what did you like about it?

SHINGI: It would’ve been almost 10 years ago now we would’ve still been in intermediate school just learning how to skate then the show Epicl’y Latered was something new and refreshing. You got a peek into their personal lives as well as an in depth interview on skate culture. It put a personal attachment to my favourite skateboarders which intern motivates you to scare you even harder it’s almost like a musician watching their favourite musicians biography you know.

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ALEYNA: So where are you guys from?

MUCHE: Harare, Zimbabwe

ALEYNA: And how old were you when you came here?

MUCHE: Bout 2002, I was seven.

ALEYNA: So you went to school out here?

MUCHE: Yeah, Elm Park Primary.

 

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ALEYNA: Wait where are we?

SHINGI: We’re in Flatbush but we grew up round the east like Pakuranga

ALEYNA: So first memories of skating, how did it start?

MUCHE: Just seeing my mates back in intermediate and my friends would skate and I’d just watch clips of them doing like kick flips and shit skating and be like bro how do you do that.

SHINGI: I got me a little $10 skateboard from the Warehouse and shit, it could barely ride.

ALEYNA: So you loved it that much that  just put up with that? What was the first board you bought?

SHINGI: Yeah for a little bit and then I got like a proper skate board, I think my first one was a Flip, Geoff Rowley.

MUCHE: I think the first board I bought was a Zero cause I loved Chris Cole.

SHINGI: I was real poor and shit so I couldn’t afford to buy a board and shit for over $100, so I’d always cop second hand skateboards…once in a blue moon I’d buy a board.

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ALEYNA: So is this your stomping ground?

MUCHE: Yeah

 

SHINGI: Oi legit, we were probably the reason why they built this park…

ALEYNA: What’s that story?

MUCHE: Um so if you go back maybe a kilometre that way we used to be fucking little shits always just going there  skating up, the shop owners would complain and shit , we’d skate all the local schools, they’d always complain there was like 20 of us and we’d always just go and skate together so they got pretty pissed off about that after a while.

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SHINGI: We even did a petition and they put like 700k into it or something.

MUCHE:  There was like, One News or something came out here when it was still getting built and they got us all to come through and ask, ‘Oh what do you guys think about this park?’ But bro we needed this to be honest like where else were we gonna skate? You’re [the council] not providing facilities for the youth to go kick it at type thing.

SHINGI: And the public transport system is so trash.

MUCHE: It’s hard to get to other parks.

SHINGI: To get to skatepark would take you half a day.

MUCHE: But now it’s like legit, this place is probably a home for a lot of people who have grown up around here, it’s needed.

ALEYNA: So skating, as brothers that’s something that you’ve always done together?

MUCHE: Yeah and my other brother, he’s better than us, he’s fuckin good (laughs).

SHINGI: Yeah he’s fucking good aye, so good.

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ALEYNA: What is it you love about skating, is it like something you can do as a family, as brothers like isn’t some of this shit scary?

SHINGI: It is but it’s fun like ..the risk.

MUCHE: The way I see it it’s like confidence building , if I was gonna go do that 10 right, like that I’ve never done in my life but if I was going to go do it I would probably run up like five times and then come to a point where you’re like I’m actually going to do it this time and that’s when the adrenaline kicks in before you do it and then once you do it, it’s like ‘Oh my god it wasn’t that hard’ and then you go try it again you know but like getting over that mental barrier of  it’s ‘just a 10 stair’ or  ‘it’s just an olly’ type thing gets me, I dunno. Sometime you could be out there trying a trick for a whole fucking day and you’re not going to get it, but you’re still, every time you fall down and fuck yourself up you’re going to get back up and try again you know.

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SHINGI: Cause you want it that bad…

MUCHE: And then you get it one time and then that one time made up for the whole day’s worth of work  you know so yeah it’s a good feeling,

ALEYNA: So do you guys reckon  that define loving something or just your drive and character?

SHINGI: Definitely defines loving something.

MUCHE: Loving something because fuck, you got to put up with the bad times you know what I mean just for those small moments of hope but it’s worth it in the end.

SHINGI: It’s the feeling of achievement that’s so satisfying even if you do something one day you’ll be like fuck ok, if I can do that then the possibilities are just endless

MUCHE: It just makes you like, I’m going to take it to the next level.

ALEYNA: Do you help each other train or learn?

MUCHE: Game of Skate, we should play a gam of skate now…

SHINGI: It’s like what’s that game on the basketball court…Donkey.

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Review: Cranes In The Sky Drips Good Juice For Soul

Culture

The video for Solange’s new single ‘Cranes in The Sky’ was directed by Solange and her husband Alan Ferguson, with the aid of photographer Carlota Guerrero whose style permeates the wave of film inspiration this film student needed, and found while watching.

Their shots are in the same vein of movement, style, creativity and femininity that’s been filling up my black book all year, it’s exiting to see! There are about 30 different frames used to compile the complete song; working like a sultry montage that translates as sweet with the piano keys in the track; and strong with the power of Solange’s voice — it all just pushes her power as a major contributor to contemporary pop culture further and harder.

The unapologetic presence of her work ethic is inspiring as shown in the making-of teaser below. I like that she is a solid, tall looking vessel of a woman; comfortable, confident and matter of fact in her approach – which is kind of an oxymoron because her approach feels effortless and nothing like she’s working at all. But, I’d imagine this is the craft of being a pop star; like she humbly knows it’s good, all of it. Both her release videos,Don’t Touch My Hair and Cranes In The Skyare a pleasure and inspiration to see because they both show Solange boldly owning her space, watch her embody a freedom dance with producer, Sampha HERE.

I like the sense of organic, non-constructed beauty in the project, contrasted with the gentle pastel pallet; mixed with a sense that there is strength in showing vulnerability. I like the bold femininity and the sensitive subjects addressed with no sorry or fucks given about how a hater might feel about it. A Seat At The Table features the track ‘F.U.B.U’ (for us by us), it pays tribute to the classic smoker film, How High and sweetly coos, “All my niggas in the whole wide world, play this song and sing it on your terms, for us, this shit is for us”..  I love this side of Solange, she’s real, too real.

Master P also narrates the album with no prompts or hints regarding his own public status, like he and Solange are two homies who appreciate a common understanding; like when he gets deep on a level that addresses how black people don’t get rehab, “We have to rehab ourselves”, he says.

The production features credits from Sampha, Raphael Sadiq and others. The making of video shows Solange freestyling and building her songs over a span of three years. In another interview she said she wanted to make an ode to Mary Jane with a feminine touch, something she has done as a woman, rather than a girl – it promises a budding creative future for females still slugging away in a predominantly male saturated arena.

Solange basically honed in on everything that matters to her demographic with this release and promoted her community with subtle visual elements representing friendship, camaraderie, social consciousness and a hunger for minds to be more open in the public sphere. It is an album that drips a rich, concentrated good-juice by letting itself into the minds of the socially conscious and settling into the hearts of those craving political change and a more heart-felt approach to issues being faced globally.

Solange has said the album is a “confessional autobiography and meditation on being black in America” and that “she doesn’t believe that protest is just marching in the street but that protest can be creation.”

It is an album for those who can recognise there is a bubbling for positive change happening beyond newsfeeds, worldwide; under little rocks in communities all over, there is proof in projects and work like this that artists, musicians, clothing designers, web designers and more are crying out for more inclusiveness, less racism and less bigotry in the world; this is for people looking forward to a time when the mainstream can experience real culture without it needing to be appropriated first; it is an album for those who know that if these kinds of projects keep making small waves only — the opposite to what their creators intended — then there may just be a war instead of a revolution.

Photography: Do you still dream? Nunu goes to Sudan

Culture

Sudan is home to the Nubian people and the Kingdom of Kush. It’s a deeply magical place documented as an ancient central meeting point for the world’s longest living race recorded – Africans.

Fatima Sanussi (known to friends and family as Nunu) recently returned to the capital, Khartoum with a desire to make a difference. Her family left Africa due to her father, who worked in politics, having to seek asylum in New Zealand. For her, this year long trip is about returning to her motherland, or ‘THE motherland’ as many Africans who’ve had to leave call it. Over the Christmas/ New Year period her Instagram feed expressed how the trip was about replenishing her soul.

Nunu is telling  her people’s story through photography; using her camera to capture words and emotion in a place where raw desire and cries for fairness and justice can only be expressed internally much of the time.

Below we talk about how her current project, a digital piece consisting of photography and theory called ‘ the triangle of death’; targets “factors which contribute to the problems Sudan is facing and has a photo component I named Do You Still Dream”. Nunu also invests time and energy toward NGO offices in Sudan and the UN and supports an organization raising awareness of child cancer in Khartoum.

Instead of saying ‘I am just one person, what difference can I make to a country nowhere near recovered from centuries of war, religious tension, famine and political unrest?’ Nunu has packed up her late night Big Mac drive-thrus as well as other first-world conveniences in New Zealand to go back to Khartoum and say, “I am one woman, but I will do what I can”.

Where were you born?

I was born in Ethiopia, Addis Ababa

How did you come to be in New Zealand and when did you arrive?

I came into New Zealand in 1999 due to my father’s political background in Sudan and Ethiopia. My father worked for a Sudanese political party. However due to a political movement he started he was forced to flee to Sudan he then worked in Ethiopia for the UN and continued his movement which was unsuccessful and only caused more controversy so he was again forced to leave Ethiopia. So he took my brother mother and I to New Zealand as a political asylum.

Which part of Sudan are you in and what took you back there this year?

At the moment I’m in Omdurman but I’ve been moving between Omdurman and Khartoum. I came out here for a bit of soul searching to connect with the motherland. Also to complete a piece I’ve been writing for a while. It’s called the triangle of death which targets factors which contribute to the problems Sudan is facing. With it consists a digital side which I named “Do you still dream”. The project consists of photos of people I have photographed in Sudan. I’ve always dreamed about going back home and making a difference I guess this is me pursuing my dreams.

 What are your plans and hopes to do while you’re there?

My hopes are to finish this piece I’m writing within the year I am here. Also to finish my digital project and get as much photos as I can, and speak with a lot of different people all over Sudan and get enough content. So far I got asked to photograph for a private NGO (non-governmental organization) called AWN Initiative To Support Childrens Cancer . This organization is fighting for the rights of kids battling cancer. So I’ll be photographing to help their movement on the digital side of things also I’ll be working along side them in the children homes. I’ve also recently been asked to be part of the UN Worlds Food Programme in Khartoum so I will be doing some work with them in abou 2 weeks. I’m also trying to get involved in more NGOs that focus on different causes and do as much work as I can.