Almost everyone talks about the tragedy and disaster of other people’s lives, but very few actually do something to help. Garrett Hubbard, a 24-year-old UCSB alumni and current Brooks Institute of Photography student, is one of those few people actually doing something to instill a bit of hope into the lives and communities in South Africa affected by poverty, alcoholism, violence and the AIDS pandemic.
Along with the help of the non-profit organization Bridges of Hope International, founded by Dennis and Susan Wadley of the Goleta Community Covenant Church, Garrett Hubbard visited and volunteered in South Africa. The Bridges of Hope organization is dedicated to a wide array of volunteerism within the 300,000-person community of Philippi, South Africa. The organization works within townships five days a week, helping locals create sustainable communities and micro-businesses, as well as setting up after-school programs and support for HIV/AIDS victims. The organization focuses on economic development but makes sure to reach out to the elderly, orphans, homeless, street children and those involved in the sex trade.
Artsweek sat down and chatted with Hubbard about his experiences in South Africa, the goals of Bridges of Hope and his current photography exhibit, which documents the struggle, help and hope he has seen in visits to South Africa. Hubbard’s exhibit, “South Africa: Hope Where There Could Be None,” is a professional and compassionate collection of sixteen images that powerfully illustrate the current conditions in Philippi, where Hubbard stayed. His photos document the struggle and anguish among the community, along with the development and improvements made by the Bridges of Hope organization.
Hubbard explained to Artsweek that since Bridges of Hope first started its work in South Africa, it has created a domino effect on surrounding communities. Those who have seen the remarkable success in one town want the same for theirs – so much so, that in only one year, micro-businesses are booming and the former 80 percent unemployment rate has dropped drastically. Hubbard’s main goal with the exhibit is to tell this story and inspire others to help in any way, no matter how small.
It is rare to come across individuals so motivated and inspired in their dedication to being involved in rectifying much of the world’s ugliness. Garrett Hubbard manages to be one of those individuals that remain humble in their work, eager to raising awareness through a visually striking medium. His hope is that those who see his photos will aid in raising awareness of the struggles in places like Philippi, so that everyday needs like healthcare, education and safety are no longer distant, unattainable desires.
If you would like to get involved or learn more about the Bridges of Hope organization, visit their website at www.bridges-of-hope.org or attend Garrett Hubbard’s closing ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 25 downtown at Caf