Volunteer: Aimee Sanders
I am an artist and teacher, and since 2003 have been living near a small town in Central Africa called Mayumba - on the Atlantic Ocean about 100km north of the Congo border. I love watercolor painting, smudging oil pastels, making costumes, playing dress-up, sitting on the beach at sunset with my "kitty cat who thinks she's a dog" Peanut Butter, dreaming during afternoon naps, creating beautiful environments with color and cloth and natural materials, diving into the ocean when there's biophosphorescence and pretending I'm in Tron, and sipping smoothies while swinging gently in a hammock.
Contributions from Aimee Sanders
The dry season is savanna-burning time. These kids, in the village of Nkoka in southern Gabon, playing at being daredevils, take turns leaping over the flames in their flip-flops and tattered clothing. When they see me take out my camera to capture the scene, they run toward me, and one of the boys raises his hand in a salute to Peace.
Peanut Butter the cat takes her birding seriously, and spends as much time as she can studying their habitats, calls, and plumage (so she will know what she's eating!)
Papa Nzengui, a celebrated Gabonese cythar player, strikes a chord as sparks fly from a village fire- making it seem like magic is rising up with the music as he plays.
This is a photo of the fuel station in Mayumba, during working hours. And it's not an unusual sight. In Mayumba, a town of about 3000 people, there are only two taxis and less than ten private cars. Once the bush taxis leave for the day, there's not much for the pump attendants to do... People around here joke that, at midday, you could take a nap on the street and be perfectly safe. Indeed, I have seen a drunk man or two do just that.
I took this photo during an environmental education tour around the Banio Lagoon villages, south of Mayumba, Gabon. This grandmother and her granddaughter allowed me to take their portrait in front of the bamboo cooking shack. It is my favorite photo of my entire stay in Gabon because her eyes seem to communicate the endurance a woman needs to survive village life. I imagine that I see the little girl's future - hope and innocence transformed into weariness and pride - in the old woman's eyes.