A few years ago, I heard about a group of terrific Maasai women in Tanzania who were transforming their traditional community enclosures, called bomas. The Maasai are pastoral people and their livelihood depends on the cattle and goats they raise. They also reside in regions where wild animals roam freely, including leopards and lions that mostly hunt at night. Livestock is herded into pens before dark, but wildlife is still a serious threat to the villagers, so Maasai people are often trapped in their homes at night, without ventilation or light.
Maasai women are working to make life safer for their communities. Through a training program, women are taught how to build chimneys for traditional huts, allowing smoke and other fumes to escape. Everyday these extraordinary women walk for miles to neighboring bomas to build chimneys.
They also learn how to build and install solar panels to light up the entire boma community, keeping dangerous wildlife away from both livestock and people.
I couldn’t help but think about the little girls in these communities who witness women solving major problems on their own. I imagine how inspirational it must be for them to dream big themselves. The most important lessons of my life have been learned in the company of such women. They are smart, hopeful and incredibly resourceful.
When I work in rural communities, I’m especially careful to tread lightly, and be as unintimidating as possible. My goal is to disappear into the lives of others and to earn the right to create intimate images of real life. The G-9 system is perfect for this type of work. It’s small and quiet, and the super sharp zoom lenses give me so many choices to vary composition without moving around too much as real life moments play out in front of my camera..
Annie is a Global Ambassador for Lumix Cameras. One of the first women photographers to work for National Geographic, Annie has worked on dozens of magazine and book projects for National Geographic, including stories on Lawrence of Arabia, Galilee, Petra, Sydney, and Jerusalem.
In addition to her magazine work, Griffiths is deeply committed to photographing for aid organizations around the world. She is the Founder of Ripple Effect Images, a collective of photographers who document aid programs that are empowering women and girls in the developing world. In just six years, Ripple’s work has helped 26 non-profits raise over ten million dollars.
Griffiths has published 4 books, is an accomplished speaker and a regular television and radio guest. She has received awards from the National Press Photographers Association, the National Organization of Women, and the White House News Photographers Association.