Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Faces of Africa

The many faces of Africa will forever be embedded in my mind. Of the fifteen hundred photos I took, these are several of my favorites. I looked for the unusual opportunities to shoot these beautiful people. Their eyes speak volumes of hardship, sadness, joy, love, and life itself. When looking at these photos I can smell the smells of Africa, hear the foreign language along with the broken English, the laughter of children, and feel the love they had for us.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Team February 2009

Team February 2009
L-R Back row ~~ Lynn-Dentist, Mary-AILC In Country Director Kenya, Norma-Dental assistant/housewife, Deb-Hematec and Sales Rep, Ashley-CNA, Leslie-Veterinarian, Mike CEO of Pier 49 Pizza, George-Plumbing contractor, Shosho -Founder of AILC, Marilyn-Midwife, Jill- ICU Nurse, Sana-Co-Founder of AILC, Lauri-ER Nurse, Emily-Insurance Agent/Student, Christine-Physical Therapist, Jody-Clinic Nurse, Kay-Middle School Student.
What an awesome team we were and will forever be.....
Last night Team February 2009, had a "Picture Party--Dip Party." It is a tradition when each team returns home, a few weeks later each member brings the photos they took along with a copy of a CD of them to share. Also each member brings a dip of their choice for everyone to enjoy. It was funny in Africa is sort of started as a challenge to see who had the best dip recipe. Knowing that everyone would be thinking of chips and dips, I chose to make a fruit dip, and took huge fresh strawberries for dipping. After all who doesn't like fresh sweet strawberries, especially if you can dip them for added calories....

Everyone was also amazed at my photos. The AILC Organization wants to redo their brochures, their video, and their visual aids for public speaking, using my photos. WOW! I am a little shocked, somewhat honored, yet a bit protective about my photos. The founders, Shosho and Sana, just keep saying, "Oh my what an eye you have for photography!" Sana, also laughed and commented, I remember you lugging all that camera equipment everyday, but now I am so glad you did.

It was nice to see everyone last night. Shosho hugged me and commented, "You clean up pretty nice." I took that as a compliment, and thought to myself, boy I must have looked a sight in Africa! I guess we were all pretty "plain" in Africa and seeing each other all day and most of the night just "plain" it is quite a shock to see each other when we get back to America all dressed up, hair neatly done, make-up on and smelling so nice!

One team member from our expedition said to me at our Picture Party; "I hardly could tell that is you Lauri, without your ball cap and your camera fanny pack!" That's pretty bad that we feel we have to do so much with our hair and faces here at home. Yet, while in Africa we had so much love and appreciation for one another and yet, we were just plain ole plain.

It's kind of sad that we judge others worth and status in society by their outward appearance, their make-up, expensive clothes and a stylish hair do. When what we should judge is the genuine person on the inside, along with the passion, and compassion they exhibit each and everyday!
Before our mission I know each member of Team 2009 had different expectations and visions of Africa. However, I truly feel after our two weeks in the poverty of the country this poem sums the feelings of the entire team. I, myself, hope that the touch of my hand, the compassion in my voice, and the hugs from my heart will always bring a ray of hope and happiness in the lives of those women and children ten-thousand miles away.

Human Touch
Ti's the human touch in this world that counts
The touch of your hand and mine.
That means far more to the fainting heart
Than shelter, bread, or wine.
For shelter is over when the night is gone
And bread only lasts a couple of days.
But, the touch of a hand and the sound of a voice
Sing deep in the soul always.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wisdom Beyond Years!

A few days ago I had the pleasure of spending the day with My Little Buddy Brykn. It was so much fun as I have really only got to see him once since I got back from Africa and that was at the airport. From the minute I picked him up from daycare, we both had big smiles on our faces. However, there's is just one problem, Brykn still wants to know where his elephant is.... We played all day, inside and outside with all his toys. I explained to Brykn the kids in Africa don't have toys. His reply was "No toys, me will give em some of mine." Wouldn't it be so nice if we all had wisdom beyond our years, and we were all so willing to give to others without hesitation like a two and half year old. Brykn again made me smile when I was showing him a few of the 1251 photos I had taken in Africa. As he sat looking at one particular photo of two African children, he replied, "Oh my gosh that kid is black, him is so cute, me want to play with him!"
I am convinced the world would be a better place if we lived and loved like children do. As children see no barriers, have no prejudices, and consider another child, a child just like themselves.