Spark Micro Grants is an NGO operating in Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The common denominator for these countries is that they are all suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of wars and genocide. Spark’s mission is to help villagers in these regions improve their lives so they can believe in the future again. In some cases, if the villagers need money for things like goats, fences, or building materials, Spark has the ability to facilitate that support. An organization called the Global Good Fund asked me to help Spark capture their operations in photographs, and so “Evidence of Resilience” was born.
I decided beforehand that I was going to pursue a personal project that focused on portraits of the members of different villages. I was particularly interested in taking portraits that connected the individual with their environment. Although I had to travel light—I didn’t have any assistants with me—I decided to be ambitious in my approach.
I wanted to create an atypical portrait and didn’t want the images to feel intrusive or too controlled. I knew from experience that when you are on location, you don’t have much time to decide where to shoot, set up and execute. You have to trust your first instinct and go with that—you don’t have time to second-guess yourself.
Editors’ note: Kristofer Dan-Bergman is a member of the LensCulture Network, a recent initiative we launched with the idea of offering talented, accomplished photographers a place to showcase their work on a global stage while also giving them a place to share, learn and engage with one another. The LensCulture Network began with a small number of hand-picked members, and we are very excited to watch it grow and evolve.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also like one of these previous features: Proud Women of Africa, a recent video interview with photographer Julia Gunther, who traversed the African continent in pursuit of inspiring stories about women; Unequal Scenes, stunning landscape shots from a drone’s-eye-view that illuminate the extant divisions in post-apartheid South Africa; and The Price of Gold, compelling portraits of gold mineworkers that show the human cost of this industry.