BY SEAN DELANEY
A volunteer photographer who caught malaria three times while capturing a frank snapshot of poverty at a school in Ghana will have her photo displayed in an exhibition in Parliament.
Katie Barraclough, 28, who lives in Dulwich, took the photo while volunteering as part of a sustainable development project hosted by the International Citizen Service (ICS).
The photo was taken at a children’s club educating young people on sexual health issues in the remote village of Nayorku.
Children were asked questions about sexual health, which Katie said brought up some interesting responses: “We would talk to girls about puberty and many don’t know anything about protection, or simply don’t have the means to afford it.
Some children even think you can catch HIV by simply sharing a razor.”
Katie studied psychology and photography in the USA before moving to Dulwich to pursue a career as a freelance photographer.
During her six months on the project Katie got the opportunity to accompany the chief executive of the ICS into remote villages which provided some eye-opening insights into one of the world’s poorest communities.
Katie said: “Photography was a way for me to document what we were doing but also to gain an insight into life in Ghana.
Just walking home the staggering poverty hits you like a punch to the gut. “One teacher would bring children outside into the sand to write as they didn’t have the resources.”
Katie caught malaria on three separate occasions. She said: “It’s fine for me because I can go to the hospital and medicine is £3. But for people living there they simply can’t afford it.”
It was in these trying circumstances that Katie says she got her best photos: “Often people change when they see a camera, but the people didn’t change who they were and this allowed me to get some really candid photos.”
Katie enjoyed her time working in schools but is aware of the Instagram fascination of tourists taking selfies with local children trying to pull silly poses.
She says the kids here react differently: “The children were loving the opportunity for all the photos. But really they just enjoy your company.
It’s not the norm for them so they want to sit and scroll through the photos with you.” Katie’s photo was shortlisted from around 300 entries and there were five overall winners.
All shortlisted and winning photos will be displayed in an exhibition in Parliament.
Before leaving for Ghana, Katie fundraised £800 which will go towards projects such as these in poor communities in developing countries.
The ICS is a UK Government-funded scheme which provides volunteer placements in sustainable development projects for young people aged between 18 and 25 and team leaders aged between 23 and 35.