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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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.

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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!

Smiles that make you smile

Well these two just make me look good… I shot these yesterday here in Rwanda of a couple of wee boys who have a great time together.

One of the boys Mum’s studies and works at No.41 (more about them soon) so he gets to spend the day hanging out with his buddy Mo and his Mum who made the shoot a lot easier with her behind me antics (she worked up a sweat!)… aren’t they gorgeous happy boys?!

Because I'm happy!

Because I’m happy!

 

Oh hey!

Oh hey!

 

It comes naturally

It just comes naturally

 

Bubbles = happiness

Bubbles = happiness

 

As I look forward I glance back…

So its about to happen… I am moving!

Well to be honest I haven’t really been settled anywhere for the past 2 years and have essentially lived out a of a backpack with no fixed abode – its been an adventure! Moving somewhere new isn’t a huge drama – except those loved ones you leave behind each time. I am incredibly excited to be moving to Ethiopia and building a new place to call home. For now just a weeks stopover to meet some amazing colleagues, a new school, position & start setting big goals for the year. Then back to Rwanda for the remainder of summer before settling into life in Ethiopia in late July!

I thought I would dig up a couple of old images from the time I spent traveling to see a small part of Ethiopia in 2010 which blew me away! As you can imagine I am looking forward to get back to the rich culture, amazing food and people and throw myself into everything the country has to offer and learn so much more. I hope over the coming months and years I can break down some of the misconceptions you may have about Ethiopia and the images that come to mind when you think of this part of Africa.

I will start here…

Cool shades

Creativity & entrepreneurial – handmade & for sale – cool shades!

Tucked away after a climb up a huge cliff to a church in a cave...

Tucked away in a hidden cave… in the hands of an 80 year old who climbed like spiderman up the cliff

Stepping into the light

Stepping into the light from a church in Lalibela

Beautiful children

Beautiful children in the golden end of day light

Taking a break

Taking a break

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On a journey

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Can’t wait to step away from the ‘tourist’ type shots and show you some everyday Ethiopia!

Looking for PERSPECTIVE in April

PERSPECTIVE… the way you choose to view the world!

CHOOSE being the key word in this definition… it’s a CHOICE.

You can go out and see beauty and opportunity in some part of everything or you can choose another perspective. I guess this is one of the reasons I love photography as it helps me look for the good and beauty in everything I pass – it helps me truly ‘see’.

Photography has made me approach people with not only more open eyes but a heart that is more open to seeing things from another angle or perspective and to inspire others to see the same, make the shift or at least try!

Perspective

Perspective

The image from April on the Calendar is of a beautiful young Muslim girl from Malad East Slum in Mumbai India. An incredibly poor slum area but you wouldn’t know this from viewing the image I don’t want to highlight the fact that she is from an incredibly poor slum area but the fact that from this image and looking at her you wouldn’t know any of this.

The picture was taken on an old bus (see attached shots) on the edge of the slum area that has been converted into a classroom in order to enable these children to attend school. Around 40-50 children from the area are able to attend a school on the bus which for many may be the only education opportunity they have in their lives.  Supported by a local NGO Called ‘Un Toit A Bombay‘ translates to a ‘A roof in Bombay’ and this is what they do, give opportunity and a roof (in another building) for children to come and do their homework, wash, eat and play together in a safe environment.

When I stepped onto the bus for the visit it was buzzing with excitement, wide eyes and smiling faces. Children genuinely happy to be in a school of any sort, no complaints just getting on with it.

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School on a Bus

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Friends & classmates

One of the girls at school

One of the girls at school