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The School Sessions

April 8th, 2015

Over 500 photographers from around the globe have volunteered to be a part of The School Sessions, a project imagined by Vancouver, BC photographer Jamie Delaine and her husband Randy Watson aiming to raise $200,000 to build a school in a still earthquake devastated town in Haiti.

Randy Watson had traveled to Haiti extensively for disaster relief building projects both before and after the 2010 earthquake. On one of his last trips to the region, he met the principals of E.C.C.A. School in Mellier, a small town less than two hours west of the capital city of Port au Prince. Duckenson and Francoise Laguerre, a husband and wife, started the school in 2007 with only twenty children. Within eight years, the school has grown to 220 students ages 3-18. E.C.C.A’s small staff of teachers teach long hours in the tight plywood classrooms educating the students who are so eager to learn.

Watson saw first-hand the need for a new building, “The three classroom ‘walls’ were simply pieces of three-foot tall plywood, more of a visual barrier between the rooms than anything else. The environment was loud and distracting.” 

In November 2014, The School Sessions was born as Jamie and Randy travelled to Haiti together to capture photography and videography of the E.C.C.A. students and teachers.

On January 12, 2015 Delaine put out a call to her professional counterparts, asking them to sign up to donate 100 per cent of their profits from a portrait session on April 12, 2015 to the fundraiser. And they did. Fast forward to present day and now, over 500 photographers from 17 different countries around the world host a profile on The School Sessions website including five photographers from Edmonton.

Barbara Rahal, one of those Edmonton photographers, knew she wanted to be a part of the project as soon as she heard about it.

“It touched my heart that despite not having the facilities, the kids kept coming to school to learn,” said Rahal, “It will bring so much joy to have at least one school built after such a horrible disaster.”

Dylan Wowchuk, a fellow Edmonton photographer agrees, “The ability to use art and our business to provide opportunity on such a large scale is the type of thinking that will change the world.”

Photographers are still registering to participate and the number is growing daily. Now the call is to the public, to book sessions with these photographers and know that their purchase is going towards making a better life for the children of Mellier.

Participation in the program is easy. Individuals can sign up to have their photo session with any of the participating photographers on The School Session website. The site allows individuals to connect directly with the photographers in their area. Currently, there are over 100 photographers from 9 provinces across Canada registered on the site.

 “When we started the initiative earlier this year, we could only hope that it would take off like it did,” said Delaine, “We are so touched to have had such an amazing response from photographers willing to support this program! We are super excited for what this means for the children at the E.C.C.A. School. We are halfway to our goal. We have photographers, now we people need to book their sessions.”

Delaine and Watson have envisioned a better future for the children in Mellier. They have always had desire to use their professional talents for more than just making a living, and have come up with a way to raise money using Delaine’s profession as a photographer and Watson’s expertise in carpentry to do just that with The School Sessions.

“If I can make my business about other people and not just about myself - that would be a game-changer.” said Delaine, ““Let us never grow weary of doing good.” That’s the heart of the E.C.C.A. School and the heart of The School Sessions.”

To learn more about The School Sessions and see the participating photographers from Edmonton click here.


Tags: edmonton, yeg

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