Book Review: MVP: The MiIlennium Villages Project
The stretched-out lands reveal more than just a space filled with clothes, for the women of Rwanda, it is the only place they can afford to shop. The clothes are second-hand, worn, and just don’t fit right. But they’re here, thanks to The Millennium Village Projects. Photographed by Ed Kashi, Gary Knight, Danny Wilcox Frazier, and Ron Haviv, the lives of these people are put on display. The book MVP captures the realities of the lives of the men, women, and children in the struggling areas of the African continent.
The Millennium Villages Project is aimed at proving a sustainable approach to the rural and developing parts of Africa to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, which are eight globally endorsed targets that address poverty, health, gender equality, and disease. By improving access to clean water, primary education, basic health care, sanitation, and other science-based interventions, the Millennium Villages Projects aims to ensure that communities living in extreme poverty have a real, sustainable opportunity to lift themselves out of the poverty trap.
The book opens with the hardships of Ghana, captured by Kashi. Standing in the center of the image, a shoeless man holds a shovel, his arms are stretched above his head, ready to plunge it into the ground. Around him are what looks like small men, forcing their shovels into the side of the large gravel hill. The massive mound contrasts with the lush greenery in the background. Kashi photographs the men in tattered clothes, as they search for gold. This illegal practice employs local workers, causing the authorities to turn a blind eye to the poor working conditions.
Mayange, the “land of a thousand hills” in Rwanda, is home to many women who now have a steady source of income. The Millennium Village Projects established the Mayange Basket- Weaving Cooperation which has developed sustainable commercial activity and helped many women support a better life. Four women sit close to each other on the dry ground. Smiling, their hands work quickly, wrapping the bright yellow and red strings together to create the woven baskets. Focusing on Rwanda, Knight intrudes on this personal moment, showing the softer side of how the Millennium Village Project is able to help so many people.
Women are crucial elements of MVP, and Frazier captures the intricacies of their lives in Senegal. Sitting on the side of a bed, a woman with a yellow headscarf is given information on her upcoming prenatal exam. A young pregnant woman holds her hands to her heart while looking over the booklet in front of her. Two women, associated with the Millennium Village Project, decked in bright blue and orange dresses explain the aspects of the lifesaving exam. Tthe Millennium Village Project in Senegal provides 100 percent of women with antenatal care.
In Koraro, droughts that plague the Ethiopia make it near impossible for crops to grow, yet Haviv captures crates overflowing with vegetables. A yellow bag hangs in the hand of a man choosing between small potatoes or swollen tomatoes. The photograph spans two pages and captures the plethora of food in the marketplace. The wide variety of fruits and vegetables springing from crop diversity interventions made by the Millennium Village Project.
The Millennium Village Project provides lifesaving care and services to people who need it most. The child who looks up hungrily at it’s mother will not have to go to bed without a full stomach, now that the mother has not only access to food, but also the income to pay for it. This project not only helps the helpless survive but teaches them how to thrive.