PDN Photo of the Day

My Grandmother in Rwanda: A Life Well Spent

Jean Luc Dushime is a photographer and multimedia producer born in Rwanda. Dushime grew up between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo but now resides in the United States. The images included in this slide show are of his grandmother, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide that began 20 years ago this month. Dushime returned to Rwanda earlier this year to work on a larger project about his homeland.

“The last time I saw my grandmother, I was only a young boy. [Back then] I dreamt of playing basketball for the Chicago Bulls and I enjoyed dancing to MC Hammer. However, in 1994 my life changed. My family and I found ourselves fleeing from wars and mass killings. Since then we never stopped moving until my family settled in America in 2004. I never found the strength to return home, even though Rwanda never left my mind. I was trapped between my warm and happy memories of my early childhood growing up in Rwanda, and the horror I witnessed in my early teens in my homeland and in the DRC.”

“Then I discovered photography and the camera became my companion. I found an excuse to explore the world around me, document my family and make new memories. With time, as I grew as a photographer, I became more aware of my other identities. I was an artist, a traveler, a teacher and a creative person. Photography helped me unlock my full potential. I was not afraid  of my past anymore. Hence I went home.”

‘My most precious moments, while at home, were spent with my grandmother. She has seen and survived many crises and I really wanted to capture the impact that time has had on her body. That is why I photographed her as close as I could get by reversing my 80mm Zeiss lens on a Hasselblad.

“Every wrinkle on her face is a testimony of her life well spent.”

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