Photojournalist Nancy McGirr plans to show Wednesday how even in a place as stifling as a Guatemala city garbage dump, impoverished youth can find a voice.

In her presentation entitled "Giving Children a Voice through Photography," McGirr will illuminate the power and the possibilities of community service as it relates to art. She will explain her program Fotokids and its efforts to help the youth from the poorest regions of Guatemala and Honduras.

McGirr founded Fotokids in 1991 in an attempt to empower young, underprivileged generations of Guatemalans to escape the poverty in which they and their families live.

According to the program's Web site, Fotokids operates by giving children of Honduras cameras and teaching them the techniques of basic black-and-white photography.

McGirr hopes that with these tools, the youth will be able to document the issues and situations that surround them. By making pictures and then exhibiting them, she continues, the children gain self-awareness, creativity, and confidence, as well as an urge to push beyond and reach for new opportunities.

In 1991, Fotokids started with only six children between the ages of five and 12 who lived in the garbage dump of Guatemala City. Today the program is comprised of over 80 youth, aged seven to 21, who inhabit six distinct communities in Guatemala and Honduras.

The artistic media used in the program has expanded as well. Although the project still centers on documentary photography, the Guatemala City youth now also artistically combat poverty through digital imaging, computer generated graphic, design, video, English study, and creative writing, according to the program's Web site.

Fotokids also stresses the importance of education among participants. All participants of the program are mandated to attend school, and Fotokids provides full and partial scholarships to all of its students.

McGirr's program focuses on the necessity of breaking the relentless cycle that has entrapped much of Guatemala and other countries. Her presentation will fit into the goal of Bowdoin's kNOw Poverty week, which is to spread poverty awareness.

Nestled in a bevy of lectures and activities that call the Bowdoin community to action, "Giving Children a Voice Through Photography" will play a central role in this mission as it unites art, activism, and awareness in an attempt to combat poverty and ignite change. McGirr will present the lecture on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in the Beam Classroom, Visual Arts Center, n conjunction with the yearlong series "Visual Culture in the 21st Century," a faculty-driven exploration of visual culture, and the Community Service Resource Center's fourth annual kNOw Poverty Week. All members of the Bowdoin and local community are welcome to attend.