OCTOBER 22, 1986


"Faces of Development" was the title of a display of over 100 colour photographs of Aga Khan Foundation projects and beneficiaries. It was held from October 21 to 24th, 1986 at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi to coincide with the Enabling Environment Conference. The display sought to remind visitors that development is of, for and by the people.

Soon after the Inauguration of the Conference, His Excellency President Daniel Arap Moi, Mowlana Hazar Imam, His Excellency the Vice-President, Hon. Mwai Kibaki, His Highness Prince Amyn Mohamed, the Minister for Planning and National Development, Hon. Dr. Robert Ouko and other dignitaries were escorted around the display by members of the Kenya National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation.

The photographs were all taken by Jean-Luc Ray, a Swiss professional photographer and audio-visual producer who has been working as a consultant to the Foundation since 1985.

Director of an audio-visual communications centre near Geneva, Mr. Ray has traveled extensively as a photo-journalist, employed by such organisations as the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Council of Churches.

Particularly striking are Ray's portraits. Full of dignity and optimism, they illustrated the Aga Khan Foundation's concern with the human side of development.

Asked why he was particularly drawn to smiling children and confident adults, he answered: "Newspapers are so full of horrors that readers think there is no hope, that nothing can be done. I believe that people can work together to overcome poverty, hunger and despair. I do not steal people's smiles. I wait until they are given to me. Those smiles - like the children themselves - are witness to the face that there is hope. Fatalism can be overcome. The renewed expectation is there in the faces of the people I photograph. Watching development in action, my camera doesn't see the glass as half empty but as half full."

The display also included a demonstration on the use of computers as a teaching aid in schools, and on the preparation and provision of oral rehydration therapy solution for the management of diarrhoea in children, using locally available cereals such as maize, millet and sorghum.

Put together with the help of Ismaili volunteers co-ordinated by Ms. Zula Mohamed, and by Mr. Victor Hasslauer, a professional exhibition designer well known in Nairobi, the display was a tribute to the Aga Khan Foundation's most important partners in development - the people themselves.

It was also an occasion for the Foundation to publicly acknowledge implementing agencies and the generosity of many other national and international donors to its health, education and rural development projects in Africa and Asia, among them: the Government of Kenya, Alberta Aid, Apple Inc., the Canadian International Development Agency, the Dutch Government, Ford Foundation, the Overseas Development Administration of the UK, UNICEF, USAID and the World Food Programme.

The display was subsequently opened to members of the Jamat who turned up in large numbers to view it. The photographs served to inform the Jamat of the diversity of Mowlana Hazar Imam's concerns and the magnitude of his efforts through the Foundation to alleviate the problems of Third World countries within the overall purpose of fostering integrated development in Asia and Africa.

Source: Africa Ismaili (December 1986)

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