Heart of Guatemala City on Display

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 25-10-2007

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle

Publication Place



An honours student from The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle has turned a collection of poignant photographs depicting people’s lives in the slums of Guatemala City into an exhibition.

In July this year Arts and Sciences student, Sr Elsa Cornejo SJA travelled to Guatemala and handed ten young people cameras, asking them to capture the essence of growing up in their city. The photographers then choose five photos each that best represented the issues they face.

The pictures in the exhibition highlight the issues of poverty and lack of freedom and the effects they have on the city and its people.

Sr Cornejo, who is majoring in Theology and Social Justice, travelled to Guatemala with the desire to look at the experience of impoverished young people for her thesis.

“I wanted to gain an understanding of how the concept of empowerment is understood from the political, social, economic and cultural context of young people in Guatemala City. The best way I could think of doing this was to get them to tell me themselves – through photos,” said Sr Cornejo.

Sr Cornejo is a member of the religious order of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Apparition. As part of her formation she was sent to live and work in Guatemala from 2001 to 2004.

While there she was very involved in working with underprivileged young people living in the urban slums of Guatemala City.

“These people lacked opportunities for education, employment and just basic needs, but were intelligent inspiring young human beings, struggling to survive. That experience marked me deeply,” said Sr Cornejo.

She said the exhibition tells the story of this, of the struggle, hope, faith, poverty and the search for empowerment they experience everyday.

“I really believe that this exhibition carries the young people’s voice (often not heard) across frontiers and expresses to all those who see it, the need for change in our world. In many ways it is raising critical consciousness for the people who have no knowledge of Guatemala and the reality that people live on a daily basis,” said Sr Cornejo.

The exhibition can be viewed until the 9th of November at the University’s School of Arts and Sciences, 2 Croke Street Fremantle.

Media contact:

Moira Saunders
08 9433 0611, 0408 959 138