This morning I get to go and take some photos of a client who has done very well with her smoked fish business, Mama Atiya. It’s looking like she’ll be featured in a HOPE publication soon. A couple of years ago her husband died and his family took the home they owned, leaving her and her family homeless. It’s an unfortunately common story here where poverty sometimes poisons the family well in times of tragedy (just like wealth often can). She’d worked for someone else selling fish and with a loan from HOPE she went into business herself. With her hard work and good management she now owns an apartment and is doing well (her current loan is $750, which is a significant amount of money here). I’m excited to go meet her and take some pictures of her with the smoked fish.
This fish is popular stuff here, people love it. You’re probably imagining something like the smoked salmon you put on a cabaret cracker with some Philly cream cheese and a caper or two. No, this stuff is more like fish jerky. And there are so many funky different kinds of fish here, something like 500 varieties in the rivers – some mean enough looking to send chills down your spine. They make a piranha look tame. But these fish are beautiful because they’ve helped provide a livelihood and a roof for Atiya, a single mother who also happens to be a highly successful fishmonger.
I had a great time at the market. The woman I photographed, Mama Atiya, seemed to really love the attention and she had the most fantastic smile, especially considering the lack of dental care available here. As we were finishing up in the market, another HOPE client wanted her photo taken (pictures below). She has a great energy. I could have had fun taking portraits of people for awhile there, but it wouldn’t have taken long for some opportunistic policeman or official to come and make trouble, so along we went. And as we moved through the market I saw our clients left and right and each one lifted my spirits. I have a great job.