Capturing hope and resilience through the lens in Eastern DR Congo 

Africa Science News

In the city of Goma, in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lens on Life Project in collaboration with Canon Young People Programme (CYPP) recently held a photography exhibition that highlighted the transformative potential of photography as a catalyst for positive change in a region scarred by conflict.

Titled ‘Through the Lens of Tomorrow’ the exhibition showcased the work of young Congolese photographers trained and mentored by Lens on Life, a non-profit organisation, in partnership with Canon Young People Programme (CYPP). This exhibition brought to the forefront the narratives of hope, resilience, and progress in an area plagued with adversity.

In 2021 and 2022, Lens on Life and Canon partnered on a life-changing project to educate, uplift, empower, and upskill marginalised youth in Goma in the DRC by providing photography and computer literacy education under the Canon Young People Programme (CYPP).

Through creative storytelling workshops Canon inspires and educates the next generation through creative education and teaching young people how to express themselves by using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework.

Somesh Adukia, Managing Director, Canon Central and North Africa said, “Canon is honoured to join forces with Lens on Life, recognising the profound impact of their work in Goma.

Together, we are leveraging the transformative power of photography to empower local communities and bring about meaningful change. Canon chose Goma in the DRC because part of the YPP’s mission is to support and empower and upskill youth in at-risk communities.

“Understanding that the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, our vision is to give young people the knowledge, skills, and confidence to tackle the sustainability issues that matter to them, using creativity and critical thinking.”


After completing one year of intensive practical training with Lens on Life under the Canon Young People Programme, students are offered paid internships with the Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI). The ECI is a non-profit organisation formed in 2010, with a focus on supporting sustainable development initiatives in the DRC.

This experience not only provides students with valuable professional exposure but also allows them to pursue sustainable development initiatives in the field.

By leveraging their newly acquired knowledge of the SDGs, interns are empowered to tell stories through their lenses that reflect the ongoing efforts to bring positive change to the DRC. They also earn an income and develop their photography portfolios, furthering their growth as photographers and advocates for change in the region.

Compelling and outstanding visual narratives 

Images on display ranged from gender equality and climate action to promoting good health and well-being, decent work, and poverty alleviation. Students were encouraged to not just capture an image but focus on a story related to one of the many projects that ECI supports.

One of the most compelling narratives is Daniel Tsongo’s documentation of the visionary work undertaken by entrepreneurs Yannick Kabeya, Luc Mali, Yves Musubao, and Lucien Mbombo. Aware of the problems in eastern DRC, including the lack of food, the use of child soldiers, and the exploitation of workers, they championed agriculture as a catalyst for progress, exemplified by Tomorrow SALR, an initiative employing youth while bolstering local food markets.

Another poignant narrative is Aristote Basizi’s exploration of local initiatives aimed at supporting women seeking justice for rape and gender-based violence. Through his lens, Aristote captures the inner workings of the Munigi legal clinic operated by Dynamique des Femmes Juristes.

In one image, lawyer and clinic manager Guy Mutungi utilises an electronic record system to provide remote support to a client. In another, a security guard stands vigilant, protecting the clinic from potential attack.

The exhibition featured the works of 15 students, selected by Lens on Life’s local partners. Attendees included community members, local officials, family members, representatives from the French Institute, as well as the next cohort of Canon Young People Programme (CYPP) students.

Sam and Jack Powers, Founders of Lens on Life said, “‘Through the Lens of Tomorrow’ was inspired by the resilience of the people of eastern DRC. This exhibition in partnership with local NGO Camme RDC, was designed to showcase the talent of students and offer a unique perspective on positive change and progress in the region.

“From intimate portraits of human connections to grandiose landscapes, these young photographers have elevated the captivating stories of their communities and offer an authentic and rare look at daily life in eastern DRC. ‘Through the Lens of Tomorrow’ seeks to inspire positive change and instil a sense of pride within the community, while encouraging continued support for photography and sustainable development in the region.”

Looking ahead, Lens on Life is planning similar exhibitions globally, with events in Iraq and the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, aiming to amplify voices often overlooked in mainstream narratives.

The Canon Young People Programme inspires, educates, and empowers young people across EMEA through visual storytelling, reaching over 6750 young people in 27 countries. Click here to know more about the programme:

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