Exploring Lalibela with Mika

In May we decided it was time to take on our first real adventure as a team – Mika and I. We headed to Lalibela, Mika in the backpack, for a long weekend with a friend visiting Ethiopia, Jenn, who I had taught with in India and Chris a friend and colleague from school in Addis.

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Standing in front of St George Church

It was certainly a different experience for me and I was grateful to help friends to help us out along the way as I developed my new skills of how to travel rough with a baby. Lucky for me Mika is such a social wee girl, loves being in the backpack and is up for as much as an adventure as I am.

 

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Mika sitting in the entrance to one of the churches

It was a great weekend exploring the city and churches and I was glad for the company and support to help carry Mika around in the heat. She loved the priests and their crosses.

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Making friends everywhere

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The markets are always one of my favourite places when I travel. I love seeing what is for sale, how people go about their sales and trades, the movement and conversations. This market did not disappoint it was bustling with so much activity and friendly faces welcoming us.

On Sunday morning Jenn and I got up early to head down to one of the cluster of churches to see how busy it would be when service was happening. We weren’t disappointed, around every corner there were floods of people praying, priests blessing people and movement in and out of the churches.

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Young girl we met outside one of the churches

 

We had a great weekend exploring the town, churches and markets — this girl is always smiling, always waving, always happy… thank you Lalibela for your warmth and beautiful people just like my little Habesha.

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When your friends have kids…

I love having friends/ family to shoot spontaneous pictures of their children for them. I have no ability to direct a photoshoot so pretty much gave up on that idea after one attempt of that. I do love it when friends are just playing and enjoying their kids – thats when the magic appears!

P.S. I love B&W

Growing up on  a farm in New Zealand is the life

Growing up on a farm in New Zealand is the life

Family fun

Family fun

Bubbles & Mum - bliss!

Bubbles & Mum – bliss!

Water play in the Philippines... its hot outside

Water play in the Philippines… its hot outside

The best smile in the world... this guy

The best smile in the world… this guy, Rwanda

This boy has some serious style

This boy has some serious style, Mr Rwanda

Heroes come in all sizes

Heroes come in all sizes

At the beach in Hong Kong

At the beach in Hong Kong

Windy Hong Kong day

Windy Hong Kong day

Musicians in India

Musicians in India

Fun on the farm, New Zealand

Fun on the farm, New Zealand

A kiwi summer

A kiwi summer

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!

FAMILY focus for March!

For those who don’t know I made a Calendar for 2014. The Calendar was raising funds for a rebuild in the Philippines… each month I provide a little it of information about the image for that month on the Calendar… Don’t want to read my babble? That’s cool skip straight to the video… here  or scroll down on this page to the image.

FAMILY… you can’t choose them!  Or can you?

My blood family live in New Zealand – I love them dearly, I miss them daily and when I am home it feels like home. We have fun, we laugh, we fight but we love each other. However, I have lived and spent time in a lot of places and connected not just on a surface level with many people. I travel in a different way to many which I feel allows me to understand a country and its people on a different level. I have been welcomed into so many homes and shared so many memorable moments, days, weeks, months with people from so many different backgrounds and cultures. Yet they have still become become family whose homes I could easily walk back into and be welcomed with open arms… why is this?I truly believe family is about connection.This Calendar was created for a cause… to raise money to help rebuild families homes in the Philippines.  so they could restore their lives and get on with living. Sometimes people just need a small hand up to get back up and going. Little did I know that when I went to the Philippines I would find a family in another country who I would feel completely at home with and deeply connected to. I miss them dearly. As soon as we arrived we were welcomed and embraced by Marie Ann Corsino her mother and extended family and leaving was hard.

Family isn’t always blood – who you choose to connect with and who you choose love.

BEHIND THIS MONTHS IMAGE…. this video shows you what was going on… and  really speaks for itself.I was up in the North of Rwanda shooting a video to tell the No41 story (you should check them out!). Alison and I had taken mottos to shoot some footage of the countryside to potentially use in the video to show ‘Africa’ is not the image of starvation, poverty and mud huts that people envision. I was trying to unsuccessfully shoot footage from the back of the moto around Lake Kivu when Alison suggested we go check out the hot springs. The video & image below are who we came across there!
I spent a lot of time with the No41 ‘family’ in Rwanda and they certainly became one of my families. The family spreads from Rwanda to the USA and even further. They are amazing… they make cool bags, the girls are super fun, cheeky, opinionated and feisty but in a good way, and to top it all off they give back to their community through a school feeding program! Seriously check them out – #shopwithpurpose and give back this MARCH!
FAMILY

FAMILY