Stolen cameras jeopardize youth project

HOUSTON Ben DeSoto is teaching kids life's lessons through photography. But for two weeks he's run FotoFest's Literacy through Photography classes without the necessary equipment. Thirty-six point-and-shoot cameras were stolen when someone broke into his car.

"They took my cameras, professional cameras and three bags of the kids' cameras," DeSoto said.

The kids at Project Row Houses' summer workshops haven't slowed down -- taking photos, writing essays, learning about the world and themselves.

"I like about the class we can take pictures of anything we like," said student Amaya Cooper. "Some pictures are just calm and still pictures, some are action."

However, sharing five cameras among 40 active youngsters is not easy.

"It was pretty bad, because now we have to share," said student Elijah Cohen. "It's pretty hard to do that."

Student Ashia Byers said, "I thought it was really stupid, because why would you steal the cameras from the kids?"

The kids are working toward an end of the summer photo exhibit. They know the lack of cameras only makes their teacher's job more difficult.

"Well, he needs those cameras," said student Ismael Bryan. "Those cameras are how he helps other people, helps his community by taking pictures of everything."

DeSoto says even with just five cameras, they are still learning and still taking photos, and an exhibit will be ready in time.

"You always want to leave it a better place than when you found it, and to invest in these children," he said.

The folks at FotoFest plan to buy as many new cameras as they can with donations that have come in from generous Houstonians.

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