David Jiranek had a passion for photography, for adventure, and for working with disadvantaged children. Improbably, he combined all three with The Rwanda Project - Through the Eyes of Children. In 1999, he traveled to Rwanda to document in photographs the horrible genocide of 1994. After arriving in the war-ravaged country, David set to the task of documenting what he saw. The aftermath of war was all around: bombed-out houses, deserted cars and children without parents. He began taking pictures, but soon he realized it would be more difficult than he imagined. The local residents were slow in opening up to him. They were suspicious of his big camera with the telephoto lens. Instead of completing his photo journey, he befriended the children of the Imbabazi Orphanage and taught the children, who had never seen a camera, how to take pictures. David's photography experiment with the orphanage yielded a trove of astonishingly beautiful images created by the children which became the basis for this photography exhibition and others shown in Rwanda's capital city in 2001 and at various galleries in the U.S, and abroad.
In David's own words: "On one hand, I want the kids to see that they have something to communicate and share with people from around the world that is meaningful. Remember, these are kids who thought nobody cared about them outside their world of the orphanage. The other side of the coin is, I want people around the world to see these kids less as victims, which they of course are, but more as a possibility. When you get a hug and smile from Frederic (a boy who lost both his arms) and think about the horror he has experienced, you know that by giving yourself to his spirit, even for a moment, the world can be just a little bit better for it."
David Jiranek, Project Founder, was a Broadway producer, a writer, a photographer, and a highly successful businessman. He died in an accident in August 2003 at age 45. David is survived by his wife, two daughters and a dedicated group of friends and family that have continued on with the Rwanda Project in his honor
Song 'I know' written by David Jiranek and performed by the children from the Imbabazi Orphanage.
"I know where _______ (name) lives
His heart is his home
His roof is the sky"
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