As I continue to process my recent trip to Ndola, Zambia, I thought I’d share a bit with you. My previous experience within the context of extreme poverty has been in Guatemala–in a Latin American culture (vs. African) and in an urban environment (vs. a bit more rural). However, I continue to be amazed at what connects us as human beings, regardless of culture or where on this globe we spend our lives. The beauty that I have witnessed in the slums of Guatemala City is just as present in the small homes and church communities on the outskirts of Ndola. The little things matter. And the slightest amount of hope is grasped onto and held dearly. But the needs, too, are just as great. In Ndola–up to 91% unemployment; malnutrition; lack of education; malaria; HIV/AIDS; widows; orphans; child-led households. The list goes on and on.
Quite often on trips like this, in the moment, I am emotionally shielded a bit by being behind my camera. It is not intentional, though at times I do have to literally bite my lip to hold back my tears and continue doing the work for which I am there. But it is important for me to reconnect with those emotions when my work is done, which is usually after I return home. It is natural to feel tremendously blessed by all that I have, from a protective home to good schools for my children to an abundance of food. And that list, too, goes on and on. But each of these experiences is also an opportunity for healthy change and I have to let myself be impacted by the experience–by the names, the faces, the stories, the homes of these wonderful people who are more like me than I typically understand on a daily basis. With knowledge comes responsibility and I keep learning more and more each time I have the opportunity to experience a new land, a new culture, a new group of people. How do I continue traveling what I believe to be the right path in life while adding this knowledge and responsibility? That is what I will continue to process. If you’d like to dialogue over coffee sometime or simply see some cool photos and compelling video, let me know. I’d love to pass some knowledge on.
Shifting gears in a huge way, last week was another first for Cotton Field Communications. I had the opportunity to shoot orthopaedic surgical procedures being performed on cadavers. It was amazing to watch achilles tendon repair surgery done on part of a leg. Our bodies are so complex! I couldn’t help thinking, though, that there was so much more story kept from us–who was this person who donated their body (in parts) to science? What kind of life had they lived?
I love the varied opportunities for visual storytelling!