A Firsthand Account and Video of Life at SEGA

SEGA’s Growth and Success As Seen Through the Eye and Words of A Photographer: Sarah Bones

Being a photographer and filmmaker has given me the opportunity to tell many stories across the world and one of my favorites success stories is about the SEGA School. My friend and cousin Polly Dolan asked me to come to Tanzania in 2003 to photograph for the organization CARE and I spent over 4 weeks traveling throughout the country documenting their many projects. It was not until 2008 that I returned to Tanzania when I was asked by Polly to come back because she was starting a school and would need photographs for fundraising back in the US. I was thrilled to return to Tanzania and to work with Polly again.

I arrived in Morogoro in time to photograph and record the selection interviews that were being conducted for choosing the first class of Sega. We went into the homes of many girls in remote villages to see if they would be eligible for SEGA. All of these girls had to drop out of school due to poverty related issues, many were orphaned, a few had children of their own and most were living in very poor areas. I found the girls to be withdrawn, scared and in great despair about their futures and what they wanted most of all was to return to school. It was difficult to get these vulnerable girls to open up to me and little did I know that we were at the beginning of forming a relationship that would continue for the next eight years. 

After the selections were finalized, The SEGA School opened their doors in a small, rented room in a government school. The 30 girls were picked up in a run down rented van. The first education coordinator of the school, Astrida, and I were in the van that early morning in July of 2008 and I could not believe that these were the same girls I had interviewed the week before. They were so full of life and bursting with excitement, the spirited chatter in the van soon broke out into singing and so the story began.

I have since returned to SEGA three more times to create videos to update the progress of the school and I was just there this past March of 2015. There has been so much growth in both the girls and the school since that July morning in 2008. I marvel each time I arrive and see how the beautiful campus has blossomed with more new buildings, classrooms, expanded curriculum, clubs, entrepreneurship programs, campus businesses, gardens, the amazing staff, a school nurse on campus, a counselor, solar panels, a water tower and it goes on & on.

The campus growth is one thing but the most amazing changes I have seen are in the girls themselves. The empowerment and confidence that these girls possess is stronger then I could ever have imagined. They are gutsy, proud and determined. It begins the moment they arrive at SEGA and seems to keep on expanding.  The School is clearly transforming lives and many of the girls whose homes I visited back in 2008 when they could barely make eye contact with me are now enrolled in colleges and have proven the SEGA School to be the success that it is.

Telling the story of SEGA and the students has inspired me to continue growing in my own life and work and I am grateful to have been entrusted with that honor. — Sarah Bones

 Sarah S. Bones saved for her first 35mm camera at age 13, in 1969. She immediately hitchhiked into Philadelphia so that she could photograph the lives and circumstances of people living on the street. As a professional photographer, her passion and courage in documenting people in need continued and has carried her to Africa, across Asia, Guatemala, Cuba and locally, into prisons, homeless shelters and the intensity of political campaigns. She uses her camera and vision to tell the stories of men, women, and children around the world who are voiceless and too often ignored by the popular media. Sarah is a self-taught, award winning photographer based outside of Philadelphia who works in both digital and film. Her photographs have been exhibited both nationally and internationally. When not on an assignment she has a successful freelance business in the Philadelphia area. www.sarahbones.com