2014… its been a journey

When I look back on 2014 I realise just how many opportunities I have had, amazing people I have met, the new friends I have made, and lands I have walked. Always feel super privileged to see and do all of it…. not without some challenges but these are character building and make 2015 another year to look forward to. Get out there and see the world, meet people, break down stereotypes and change peoples views!
Adventure is out there waiting!

The year that was 2014

The year that was 2014

My home in New Zealand

A beautiful evening on the beach at my hometown in New Zealand (January 2014)

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand

View from up Mount Maunganui looking down over the beach, New Zealand (January 2014)

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Children in peak out of a makeshift school tent following Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines

Roofless, Homeless but not HOPELESS, Tacloban Philippines (February 2014)

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines.

Rodolfo (73) sat with his wife Guadalupe outside their newly built home and explained to me how he survived Typhoon Yolanda. With his wife away visiting family in Manila, he stayed in their home only 30 meters from the shoreline until he saw the water level rising too high and then evacuated to the Elementary school. During the typhoon he tried to wade back through waist deep water to save some rice and supplies from his house but saw his house was flattened by coconut trees and under water. Thankful for the support to rebuild their home from external donors & a community effort led by Marie Ann Corsino they were surround by family and happy to still have one another Luan Village Leyte, Philippines. (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Small things make a huge difference. Children celebrate receiving new shoes after Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines (February 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Testing out a camera with children at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Happy faces at a school in Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Shy schoolgirl hides her smile, Arusha, Tanzania (March 2014)

Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) April 2014

Star Ferry crosses Hong Kong Harbour as the sun goes down (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (April 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Two of my favourite boys kicking back having a laugh, Rwanda (June 2014)

Back at the No.41 House (check them out www.no41.org) Rwanda (July 2014)

Back at the No.41 House, Rwanda (July 2014)

Check out No41 here www.no41.org

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school (iPHONEOGRAPHY) Rwanda (July 2014)

A sweet young girl who came walking up all curious outside a local school, Rwanda (iPHONEOGRAPHY) (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

The sun goes down over the land of 1000 hills, Rwanda (July 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

I first met Scraggles and fell in love with her, my street dog in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (August 2014)

Check out her transformation story, photos & video here… https://strengthinvulnerability.com/2014/11/17/scraggles-her-transformation/

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Four friends at a school in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Peaking out, schoolgirls in Woliso, Ethiopia (September 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

Juggling down the beach, Zanzibar Tanzania (October 2014)

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Friends help with smiles, Ethiopia (November 2014)

And as the sun goes down on 2014… I finish the year back home in New Zealand with friends and family before heading back to Ethiopia in a few weeks!

“Not all those who wander are lost”

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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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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

 

 

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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SOUL in May

“HOW YOU LIVE ON IN OTHERS MEMORIES”

Wow this women looked into me!

She was sitting in a doorway in a back alley in Udaipur (one of my favourite places in Rajasthan, India). Once you get off the main streets and start exploring you can go all day wandering around alleyways that lead through homes and small businesses. Its a maze of fun, faces and invites into homes for chai and meals.
I always try to engage people in a small conversation before taking their photo but she didn’t speak any english so after a small exchange of smiles, a few words in different languages, head and hand movements she motioned that she was happy to have her photo taken. I clicked a few shots and then sat down on the ground next to her to show her the images. As always others gathered for a look as well and she smiled and buried herself in her head scarf as others made comments. Then we just sat, no words just the odd glance and smile and watched the world go by for some time. I’m not sure what it was about her but I just loved being in her presence. I tried to explain to her that I would bring the photo back in a few days but she just looked at me with her half smile and continued to sit content with life.
Soul

SOUL – how you live on in others memories

A few days later I went back with her image (something I have done for a long time and will always continue to do). This for me is usually more exciting than taking the photo. However, this time it was very different I walked up to where I had taken her image and she was sitting in the same spot wearing the same outfit. I was so pleased I had been able to find her and sat down next to her and opened my bag to get her photo, which I promptly put in front of her. She looked at it for a short while, smiled and then handed it back to me. I tried to hand it to her again and then asked one of the men who had gathered to explain to her that I had printed it so she could have a copy. After a short conversation he told me that she wanted me to keep the photo so I could remember her as she had no did not need it being so old. She looked at me and smiled – I moved back and took another photo of her (below attached) hiding her smile – touched her hand and walked on. I may have only spent a short time in this woman’s presence but there was something about her that was just soulful and I will remember.

Even a short presence in someone’s life can have a long lasting impact!

Hiding that smile

Hiding that smile

There were so many beautiful souls on the streets and alleys here are a few sights and people I met.

Friendly children in the alleys

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Family

Smoke break

 

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

 

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