Tag Archives: non-profit

Bolivia: Perspective Shift

When people ask me how my trip to Bolivia was, I often say, “It was intensely amazing.” But, how can a sentence really describe the experience in a brief passing while shuffling kids to and from activities or in the grocery store?

The road to Toro Toro, a 6.5hr bus ride along a dirt and cobble stone road. Thankfully, we stopped to take lots of photos!
The road to Toro Toro, a 6.5hr bus ride along a dirt and cobble stone road. Thankfully, we stopped to take lots of photos!

The truth is that the whole trip was a huge perspective shift for me – from my heart to my mind. I found it was easier to digest the whole experience as a mother than a photographer. I’m not really sure why, except that is who I am at my core: a mother first, photographer second. That is why I shared about the trip on my Mommy blog first, “What Bolivia Showed Me.

And, I still think the most powerful lesson was that:

“I discovered that photography is a powerful tool to connect us across language and social status, almost as if it’s a form of communication all it’s own. It starts with a smile. And that moment in photography where you can feel the connection in a person’s eyes exists no matter the conditions.”

The trip really nailed the truth for me – that I love photography. And, I love using it in a way that connects us, that helps us have compassion for others.

Working with our interpreter, Abi, instructors: Andrew Nicodem and Benjamin Edwards.
Working with our interpreter, Abi, instructors: Andrew Nicodem and Benjamin Edwards.

Workshops With Purpose gave us an incredible opportunity to learn in real world conditions. Partnered with Food For The Hungry, we worked from a shot list as if we were on an assignment for their Little Ones Project. We worked with interpreters and saw the work being done to eradicate the high infant mortality rate and fight childhood malnutrition.

The local school, Rodeo Escalon, hosted a community garden where students and their families learned about diversifying crops, and sponsored children could learn up through 8th grade.
The local school, Rodeo Escalon, hosted a community garden where students and their families learned about diversifying crops, and sponsored children could learn up through 8th grade.

It was a beautiful thing to see mothers and fathers becoming empowered and educated about irrigation, nutrition and growing more diverse foods to feed their children. And, it was really powerful to work with the Food For The Hungry staff to see how passionate they are to do the work. These jobs are not what we have come to expect from traditional American jobs – they go above and beyond a job title.

Rodeo Escalon - a hand washing station with water purified by the sunshine.
Rodeo Escalon – a hand washing station with water purified by the sunshine.

What impressed me the most about Food For The Hungry is that they have an exit plan – a frame work to empower the people and enable them to support their community. They aren’t a big organization that expects to hand out bags of food or medicine. They connect the community to do the work within the country.

When I asked him to pick out his favorite vegetables from the family garden, he picked carrots!
When I asked him to pick out his favorite vegetables from the family garden, he picked carrots!

 

This little one's family is being helped by Food For the Hungry to diversify their crops and learn more about nutrition.
This little one’s family is being helped by Food For the Hungry to diversify their crops and learn more about nutrition.

I am grateful beyond words for having the opportunity to attend Workshops With Purpose and follow my heart. Yes, I do love non-profit photography and will look for ways to integrate this kind of work into my business before my retirement years!

©Susan Goldman Photography A photo of me walking along a Papaya farm devastated by a hail storm.
©Susan Goldman Photography A photo of me walking along a Papaya farm devastated by a hail storm.

Some smaller side lessons the workshop taught me:

1. I can take a cold shower and not freeze to death.

2. I like Llama meat.

3. Thunder and hail storms are breath-taking and livelihood crushing.

Whenever we get the chance to talk in person, feel free to ask me more about those side lessons!

xo,

Holli

Looking Back To Move Forward

Almost 16 years ago to this day, I accompanied my Grandma to Bolivia as she was taking a sort of reunion trip. Her family had lived there during her teen years as missionaries. I don’t remember what church they were serving under, but do remember that her time there left a lasting impression. She had the heart of an adventurer, and after 50 years spent working and raising 5 children of her own she wanted to go back to explore and remember.
1471807_10152354794602198_30684773138052441_n
As I looked through the old disposable camera photos of that trip, I smile inside and out.  I learned a lot more about her, about poverty and about how missionaries from various church groups try to help even when they can’t agree on how to work together back home.

I remember the redhead on our flight to Bolivia who was going to meet a guy she clicked with during his weeklong holiday in the states. How they were going to meet up in Argentina, and wondering at 16-years-old myself if that was such a good idea. So, I just listened to her as she excitedly told me about how amazing he was and excited she was to finally have found a guy like him.

I remember there was the restaurant in La Paz where we ate lunch. She couldn’t read the menu except for a few words here and there. I ordered what amounted to a pile of rice with veggies and a meat sauce. She ordered something that smelled like dirty socks. I kid you not. It was a yogurt like cold soup. Being the stubborn, frugal woman that she was, she finished it, holding her breath to as not to taste it as much.

I remember how after trying in vain to find her family’s old apartment in Cochabamba, my Grandma found us a Taxi that took us to a main Plaza. From there, she found her way home on foot or “shanks pony” as she called it. I was impressed at the memory her body held that her head could not as the walk took us straight there when street names were too fuzzy to recall.

I promised myself then that I would return some day and help out. I didn’t know how or when, but I knew I would somehow. Well, I have finally found the how and now is the when. You see, I’m rather intuitive when it comes to my relationships in life, but I am also very practical and rely on logic for my business. I’ve decided to start following my heart instead of my head and I’m excited to see where that takes me. First up is Bolivia!

Will you help me get there? I am raising funds through Indiegogo, and offer two deals on portraits through the campaign. You get a jump start on Christmas card photos and I get to fulfill a promise I made to myself.

UPDATE:

Not the kind of update I had hoped to give!

The workshop may be postponed until spring 2015. So, I have decided to put my fundraising efforts on hold until a decision is made (they chose Sept. 1st to make the final call). I am dedicated to attending no matter when it happens.

Thank you so much for your support this far!