Participatory Photo Documentation at Kagtong Community Primary School

For another week I am working at the Kagtong Community Primary School in remote Lower Kheng. I feel privilegued and blessed that I can be here in such a wonderful place.

Mountains all covered with forest full of richest wildlife, a community with plenty of children eager to learn whatever they are taught; I teach them photography and we continue to explore and learn about the rich treasure of traditional local knowledge. I brought back the photos that the students have taken last year. Now they are printed in A4 size and protected with a transparent lamination and can be used in all the classes.

The students teach me about their way of life and culture by explaining each and every detail in the photographs that were taken in their village and its surrounding; they know all the plants by their Khengpa names, they know what they are used for, they know all the Khengpa names of the dozen or so different types of handmade baskets, they know each and every person and place here… I am thankful that they are very patient and indulgent to me repeating again and again till I am able to pronounce the words in their native language.

The people in the remote areas of Lower Kheng are having a huge knowledge about living from and with nature. Their houses and most of the things that they use in daily life are all produced by their own hands from natural materials found in their environment. In special workshops parents share their skills how to produce handcrafted items made of bamboo with the students and the teachers at Kagtong Community Primary School. Another man is teaching traditional songs and dances.

I am happy to be among all these interesting people and their lively children. So far they have no role models from TV or film and for this they are still really unique personalities, each of them beautiful and adorable in her or his own way.

On Nov. 11th, the fourth King’s birthday, we will have an exhibition on local culture on the school ground, showcasing and celebrating the rich and vast knowledge of the people in Lower Kheng about their natural environment…bringing together the experts from the villages (the villagers), the students, the teachers and interested guests..

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