And then it was DECEMBER

Another year has flown by and we are into December already!

The last picture on the calendar was taken in Kenya at a school supported by Hope Global a team from Australia who do mission work around different countries in Asia and Africa. Just a photoblog here with some photos from time spent in the classrooms at the school with some kids who love learning!

 Humanity… embracing that we all have the same basic needs

At the end of the day we are all human and I believe we all want/ need the same basic things in life… To be happy, safe, healthy and have an opportunity to be all we can be!

I haven’t created a Calendar for 2015 but Hope Global has with a few of my images tucked in there too… sales support a great cause so have a look here!

Humanity...

Humanity… embracing that we all have the same basic needs

Friends

Friends

Learning is fun

Learning is fun

And more fun

And more fun

Engaged

Engaged

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Finding PURPOSE in November

One of my favourite images of FAMILY love…. this beautiful Grandmother and her sweet wee granddaughter!

PURPOSE... finding a reason bigger than yourself to exist.

PURPOSE… finding a reason bigger than yourself to exist.

We meet this sweet Grandma and baby in the North of Laos when I was visiting my cousin who was finishing up years of amazing work in the country. The mother and father turned up with the baby having noticed there was something different about the babies left foot.

Happy Yao baby getting checked

A super smiley and happy baby getting checked

Everyone was impressed that the family had noticed the club foot and acted so quickly to come and get advice on what could be done. In developed countries we don’t see many kids with club feet as they are fixed shortly after a baby is born but in so many developing countries the club foot is not recognised early enough or access to medical care is not available so the child goes without treatment and the chance of being able to walk normally, as any other person born without club feet.

Babies club foot

Babies club foot

Sweet mum and baby

Sweet mum and baby

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The baby’s parents traveled down to Luang Prabang and surgery was performed that same week as the diagnosis. The future is bright for this wee one with the treatment and follow up she will walk normally and lead a happy healthy life. The procedure to repair the foot was a simple surgery cutting the achilles tendon to release the tight pressure on the back of the heal.

About to have the small surgery

About to have the small surgery

The foot is then cast several times for a varying amount of time depending on the patient and then the child wears boots with a metal bar to keep their feet shoulder width apart for several months. The boots may need to be worn during nap times for several years depending again on the severity.

Finishing up in surgery

The cast going on after the short surgery

In surgery the cast going on

In surgery the cast going on

I’m not sure on how this baby is doing… I would love to know but with the love and commitment the family showed I have no doubt she is up walking and still smiling. Having the access to education on medicine and access to healthcare is something I won’t take for granted again after seeing so many children be denied this across the developing world for things that could change their lives.

Creating an IMPACT in October

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

IMPACT… your choice to have a positive effect on someone/thing

Last year I was in Kenya doing some work at a school in Nairobi. I met this wee guy he followed me round every time he had a break. He just wanted to hold hands, be hugged and loved on – nothing more. I got to spend a few days with him… he was very keen on the camera and seeing his pictures and would go grab anyones hand who was dangling free. He has a mum and a dad who undoubtedly love on him as much as we all did.  My time with him was short but his impact on me was positive and big – Unconditional, smiling & open!

I love this video and amazing commencement address by David Foster Williams made in 2005 This is water.  His impact on that day would have been huge I am sure for those students who heard him speak but it wasn’t until years later after his death that the video went viral and has impacted so many more people… maybe you too if you take the time to watch it!

People come in and out of our lives and we have the ability to impact them – it can be for a short time or a longer duration. I don’t think we ever really know our impact on others or influence we have…. it should always be positive!

So I leave you with this SMILE!

Impact

Impact

That smile

That smile

Framed!

Framed!

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Peace

Peace

We had a play around on the phone with my photobooth app.

Photobooth fun

Photobooth fun

 

 

Showing Strength in SEPTEMBER

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

STRENGTH… Your ability to rise against all odds and remain strong

Your ability to rise against all odds & remain strong

Your ability to rise against all odds & remain strong

I captured this beautiful strong woman in Rwanda when I decided to team up with a local art gallery and shoot the women who were working making crafts in a workshop attached to the gallery. Over a few afternoons I meet with the ladies set up a sheet and different kitenges as backdrops and shot images of the ladies which we used in a small exhibition on International Women’s Day  to show the strength and resilience women have.

This woman came out and didn’t seem all that keen to have her photo taken.  She had a pouty face and look genuinely pissed off. Through my friend I managed to translate and ask if she didn’t want to participate and that she didn’t have to… I really don’t like people feeling they are forced into something… but she agreed and said she wanted to be part of it!

When I looked through the lens at her I knew she was photogenic… some people just naturally click with the camera and she sure did – super powerful and strong. When she saw the first few photos she relaxed – and as I got to know her over the course of the week printing coming back to hang the photos she eased and I really got to see her strength and power not to mention beauty.

These images are some of the results…

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Happiness in AUGUST

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

Happiness… making the decision to be happy!

I met this young boy in Kigali when I was shooting photos of his mother and some other women at a cooperative at a Art Center. The portraits of the women were exhibited as a small display in the art center on International Women’s Day… they will come next month. Below are some photos of him and his friends who were hanging out for the few days I was with the women.

Children find happiness in simple things including posing for the camera and getting their photos back!

Making the decision to be HAPPY

Making the decision to be HAPPY

Friends

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Where does RESPECT come in? : July

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

RESPECT … the deep admiration you feel for someone & all that they are

This is one of my favourite images… there is so much more to this photo and the family in it that it makes me miss India and the streets deeply. It also brings back a huge amount of memories and flood of emotion.

This is a story with a lot more images telling you about the family and some of the time I was so fortunate to spend with them. The deep respect from the time I spent with them, watching them go through tough times, the birth of twins on the street and the reality of life for so many and the internal battle I had to fight with every time I walked away.

RESPECT

RESPECT

One of the beautiful young girls from the family and her grandmother on one of my first meetings with the girls which was just on the street along from Dadar Flower market in Bombay. The street is incredibly busy and many families live on the side of the road and under tarps and in makeshift ‘homes’. Not an easy life but every time I met the girls, their friends and family they were incredibly friendly, never asked for anything other than to have their photos taken – so the least I could do was to return their photos each time.

Taking the shot : my friend Nema was with me this day & I am so happy he caught this shot of me.

Taking the shot : my friend Nema was with me this day & I am so happy he caught this shot of me.

I first met the girls at the end of Dadar Market in Mumbai. They were sitting down with a small selection of vegetables they were selling. Their eyes and smiles caught my attention and I asked them if I could take their photos which they immediately responded with a smile and giggles from friends.

Fist day I met the girls

Fist day I met the girls

First meeting in the market

First meeting in the market

A week or so later I went back to deliver the photos to the girls  (as I often do) and found them a little further along with a group of friends and loads of other families. They were so happy to get the photos and of course this then turned into a photo shoot with them, friends and others who joined the fun.

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Beautiful friends

Beautiful friends

I returned to the visit the girls many more times over the following months, delivering photos, taking more photos and hanging out trying as best I could to communicate with the girls with no common language other than smiles and hand gestures. I enjoyed their energy and while I wasn’t doing anything for them they seemed excited with my visits.

Grandma & some of the kids

Grandma & some of the kids

I came back one day and the girls were desperately trying to explain something to me. They signalled for me to follow them across the road and up some stairs onto a flyover where I was met by a whole load more families who were living in this new spot. There amongst a group of people they pulled back a sheet to reveal two tiny babies sleeping in a wee cot and managed to explain to me that this was their new brother and sister – twins! The girls were beaming!

The twins

The twins

I was blown away and wondered where their mother had given birth, how old the twins were and if they doing ok. They seemed small and their mother looked exhausted as well. I told a friend about the twins and she put me in touch with a midwife who does a lot of work with families on the street and she said she would come back and check them with me another day. I was nervous about how the family might respond to me bringing someone in and I am no expert on babies so hoped I wasn’t over stepping the mark.

Luckily for me the family received the visit with their usual openness and smiling faces. We found out the babies had been born there on the street – addition 8 and 9 to the family. While they were small for their age, I was assured they were in good health and like their family incredibly resilient.

Family

An amazing family

I don’t want this to be a sad story – I guess I wanted this to be a story of seeing more than what is in front of your eyes… looking past circumstance and seeing beauty in tough situations. Getting to know what is under what we SEE at a first glance… and giving everyone dignity and respect!

A persons situation does not define who they are!

Finding courage in JUNE

QUICK BACKSTORY:: We created a 2014 Calendar with 100% of funds going to help rebuild one of the many villages in the Philippines destroyed by Typhoon Yolanda in November 2013. With the profits from the Calendars and many other amazing peoples generosity we (a big we) have been able to rebuild over a 100 homes and support so many more families… we are now into helping to rebuild a second village where many still need support. These blogs are images (month by month that were used in the Calendar from around the world) to give you some background story and some more food for thought.

Finding COURAGE in June – Being scared but doing it anyway !

Courage

Courage – being scared but doing it anyway

Courage… I guess that’s part of why this blog site is called “Strength in Vulnerability”. Opening yourself up and putting things out into the world, allowing yourself to be judged and given feedback that isn’t always constructive from people who hide behind anonymous titles. How courageous are they? I decided they were anonymous for a reason and that by me opening up and sharing is more positive and constructive than any anonymous feedback I get hit with. I hope by doing so this it crosses boarders and breaks down people’s assumptions about places they have just seen in the media and can make the world a smaller place by reaching out to allow others to glimpse into the world I see !

This months image is from Rwanda… a mother I met walking home down a dusty dry orange dirt road in the heat of summer, carrying not only a heavy load on her head but also precious cargo tucked so tightly on her back just peaking out a little to see me. She was loaded up but still paused for a moment intrigued to see who I was, what I was up to and have her image taken.

You can see the wider shot of her and the load below…

All loaded up

All loaded up

With work to be done and no daycare system in rural areas mothers are always on the move and working with babies on their backs. So here are some images from the country that has stolen a huge piece of my heart, a photo tribute to babies on backs, the Mamas and siblings who carry them.

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