as a photographer whether you're a "wedding" photographer or a "news
paper" photographer it's a fine line between personal work & work. i
love my work both personal & professional, so i'm pretty lucky. i love
that my job allows me the freedom to take such trips as c u b a &
honduras which i'm about to tell you about :)
four years ago this past feb. (whoa has it really been that long?)
i spent a month in an orphanage in honduras, volunteering, playing with
the kids, painting a few murals, documenting their lives & having an awesome
adventure. my good friend, dave, whom i've known since high school lived
there for a year. i'd send him random emails saying "i'd love to come visit you,
you're doing such an amazing thing" etc. he emailed back one day saying i had
to because he'd volunteered me for painting some murals & they loved the idea.
so within 3 weeks i raised $2500 & bought my plane ticket. i took two big pieces
of luggage & i had maybe 5 or 6 outfits & some snacks & the rest were art
supplies for the 600+ kids i'd be meeting.
on my first day in honduras, dave picked me up at the airport in tegucigalpa
& we headed downtown for some lunch. dave wanted to get his haircut so i
decided to sit down under a tree & watch people. some old-ish guy comes
over & starts talking to me in spanish, understanding no english & i know
maybe 5 words in spanish: cerveza, el bano, no intendo... i know enough to
have a 4 sentence conversation. so this guy & i are trying to understand
each other, when a bird shits on my forehead. the dude doesn't skip a beat.
he just keeps flirting & looking longingly into my eyes. i was like seriously?
there's doodie on my head. i wipe it off & we keep talking. i took it as a good
sign... i mean i kinda had to at that point, it's my first day of being in a third
world country, not knowing the language & ready for whatever lies ahead.
there is so much beauty in putting yourself in those kinds of situations. it may
not always be safe but you are guaranteed to learn something & hopefully it's
so, honduras is a very poor country. as we walked around that first day there
were homeless people cracked out on shoe polish (their inexpensive drug of choice)
children running around the very dirty streets barefoot while their mothers
worked a junk table. i even saw one lady with maybe 7 kids & a little baby
sleeping on a piece of card board under her table. it was all very overwhelming...
we get to the orphanage the next day & dave gives me a tour. this orphanage is
amazing. they have their own garden & chickens & are pretty self sufficient
when it comes to food. the houses are broken up into age groups & boys & girls
are housed separately after a certain age. i spent most of my time split between
the babies to 4 year olds & the pre-teen boys. each volunteer has a house that
they spend their evenings with helping them with homework, eating dinner &
putting them to bed. dave's boys were awesome. they'd laugh at my spanish while
i'd help them do their homework &. on more than one occasion we danced to
michael jackson. we made friendship bracelets. the children were so kind & generous.
they'd save a little of their plate & ask if i wanted it. they
share like i've never seen a child share. that sense of mine doesn't exist there.
i'll definitely be taking my children to visit this orphanage... if more people
had this opportunity we would be a much more sincere & grateful world.
so, during the day i'd paint. the children would help after their classes. i'd visit
different hugars (homes) & give the children their craft box & i loved watching
them draw & enjoy the simple pleasures in life that i never even
thought to appreciate as a kid. they don't normally have these supplies so it
was a special treat.
i expected to call my parents & bryan & tell everyone
that i was staying for a year. this was my kind of thing & i knew i'd fall
in love with it. but, it was so hard & stressful. not knowing the language
was huge, but the stories of their lives pre-orphanage were horrendous. most of
them were homeless because parents disappeared or died. aids is a major problem
there. i wanted to keep so many of them, bring them home & show them a better life.
but, they had found a great life in this organization. NPH. one where they were safe,
getting an education, enough food & most importantly love.
so, here are a few pictures from my experience.
my friend dave.
some of dave's boys from hugar & me.
i painted a scene from where the wild things are. it turned out really cute!
here's the kids helping out.
it was a wonderful experience that i'm so grateful for. i've pledged to have the show
displayed at least once a year in hopes of raising awareness, selling a few prints with
half the proceeds going back to the orphanage & possibly getting a few new sponsors
out of it. if you're interested in any details please let me know!