Portrait of Eshetu

There have been so many portraits that I have really enjoyed shooting, but this one of dear Eshetu was probably one of my favourites.

First meeting him in 2012, after I had just come back from the Cycle to Rwanda adventure.
The day I took the portrait, we sat, in his apartment, sipping Ethiopian coffee and enjoy sweet potato, while the rain lashed it down. a fabulous morning with a real gentleman.

Dr. Eshetu Wondimagegne NACA Projects Coordinator

“At 18 I studied away from home at a technical college in Ethiopia, I was hesitating at the time, whether I should work to support my family or continue to a degree.
I was advised to continue education and completed the first degree in the mid 1970’s. After working on government farms and becoming supervisors and managers I Came to Norwich in 1989, Got an offer from British Council Technical support from Ethiopia, to study for my PHD.
My Supervisor moved to Norwich and I came, followed him to the city. I was here for around 3 years, it was planned to return to Ethiopia to carry out field research, but sadly it didn’t work out that way. There were big problems in my country around that time, with a change of government. So I remained here.
New people came to power and my programme was changed, completely finished. It was very dangerous. It was not safe for me or my family.
Thankfully, I was allowed to stay in the UK by the British Council, but I had to get a job, of course to support myself. So, the three-plan changed to five years, but I did complete my studies and got a degree in Vital bacteriology.

For nine years I was the chairman of Town & Gown in Norwich, it was a voluntary organisation to bring people together in Norwich. Overseas students with locals, it was fabulous. We had international food, music, dance, it was a great organisation to bring people together in the city. People of a displaced nature appreciated that greatly. We made friends for life.
From this experience I started the Norfolk African Community Association. We had founding members from Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and one guy from Sudan. We started this organisation and it’s still going well to this day. We help people on allotments, educating and bringing people together.
Sadly, my children have never visited me in England. I tried to get them out of the country in the early days, spending a lot of money and time, but that failed, so now we only speak on the phone.”

About Julian Claxton

My passion for photography is supported by experiences gained on exciting travel adventures and through working for fantastic photographers. In 2006, I made the exciting step of realising my dream of becoming a freelance photographer. Since this pivotal moment, I have held numerous exhibitions, been featured nationally & internationally in print and won numerous awards, including being a finalist in the National Geographic Photographic competition in 2013 with one of my documentary images from the Sudan. From an early age I began to enjoy taking pictures of my daily life, basking in the thrill of sending the film to the printers and eagerly awaiting the pocket sized prints. My first foray into the world developing and printing strangely began at school when I was asked to produce a descriptive photo for the school newspaper. A front page shot later and I was destined to start the long arduous journey of becoming a photographer. In between exciting travel adventures and working for fantastic photographers, I graduated from college and at a crossroads in my journey to becoming a pro photographer, I embarked on a career working as a medical photographer. Learning new skills and dabbling in video production as well as progressing design skills, I yearned for the challenge and freedom of becoming a freelance. I have been fortunate enough to work on some amazing assignments which have included shooting a documentary assignment with an air ambulance, gaining full access to a British Pro cycling team during an international UCI tour, cycling to Rwanda and creating a photographic documentary of my journey. The experiences continue to grow, meeting wonderful people to photograph and telling the story of their journey. The list of events and striking moments that have played out through my viewfinder continue to grow and provide me with ever increasing snapshots of life to capture. One of the highlights of my career thus far has been staying in rural Uganda, teaching photography to the kids from the region, in a project I set up in late 2014, entitled ‘Give a child a camera’. The basis of the project is to supply 35mm cameras and film to the rural schools in this region of East Africa, teaching the children how to shoot photographs. After a week of taking photos of their life, an exhibition is held at the school and the children leave with their very own album, camera and film. One of the images I shot at Eden school in rural Uganda, during morning chapel won the 2015 Travel Media Tourism and Photography award. A great honour and one that I wouldn’t have picked up had it not been for the wonderful children of East Africa. For further information please visit www.julianclaxtonphotography.com
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