Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS Day

Every fourteen seconds, a child is orphaned by AIDS somewhere in the world.

Every fourteen seconds.

On this World AIDS Day, I’d like to add a face to this statistic.

I’ve traveled all around the world, documenting the AIDS crisis. I have shot stories about how AIDS has torn the fabric of communities, shattered families, and left millions of children without parents. Every interview is difficult. Every story is heartbreaking.

But this week in Cambodia, I listened to a story that reached straight into my heart, and pulled with all its might. Maybe it was the sadness in Tot Pok’s his eyes as he remembered time spent with his mother, or maybe it was the determination in his voice when he talked about how he’s getting back on his feet, with the help of World Vision donors. I’m not sure. But I do know that the next time I hear this statistic - every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS, I will see the face of Tot.

Before posting on Cambodia, I thought I would put up this video from Ecuador that never made it to the blog...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Photos from Ecuador

This is Coto Paxi, the world's highest active volcano

The children

The Andes - 11,000 feet up

We visited a small community high in the Andes. They were given Alapaca's through World Vision's Gift Catalog. The Alpacas help to protect the environment and water tables. It's making a tremendous difference in their crop production.

We stopped briefly at a small school in the village

The mountains are simply gorgeous

And so are the people...

I loved this image of a girl standing on the mountaintop with her dog. The picture isn't as amazing as the one that's imprinted in my mind.

This is Virgen de Quito, sitting high upon a hill overlooking Ecuador.

I took this picture at the Fiesta de Quito celebration

Just had to end with one of the cutest kids I met. He loved the camera! I think I have about 30 pictures of him.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ecuador has always held a special place in my heart. My infatuation with this amazing country goes back many years, to a Sunday evening church service. I don’t recall how old I was, my grade in school, or what I thought to be important at the time, but there is one thing I do remember - the faces. Two missionaries were giving a slideshow presentation about their work in Ecuador. Most Sunday evenings, I would have rather been watching the Wonderful World of Disney on television. I loved that show! And I begged my parents every Sunday night to please let me stay home and watch it. This night, however, they appeased me by saying, “We promise, you will really love the service tonight! It will be much better than the Wonderful World of Disney.” They were right. Torrey and Rose Wickman’s presentation on Ecuador planted a seed that would slowly and patiently ignite my soul, and guide my career path.

I’m sure Torrey and Rose talked about the ways they had been helping communities in Ecuador, the plans they had for the future, and money that still needed to be raised. But what I remember most, are the faces of children. They are etched in my mind. As a young girl, who had never been out of the United States, I couldn’t understand how children in some parts of the world didn’t have access to clean water, or food, or hospitals. They couldn’t watch the Wonderful World of Disney, or ride their bikes down the street to buy a candy bar. Many of the children didn’t even have families. It just didn’t seem fair. So my simple, little girl brain decided right then and there that someday, I would travel to Ecuador, and help these children.

I didn’t know exactly what that meant, of course, but a seed had been planted. And now, 35 years later, I am standing on a mountaintop in Ecuador, shooting a story about how World Vision is helping children and families in a small village in the Andes. And I’m trying to encourage others, during this busy holiday season, to step outside their world too. And step into the eyes of these children. It’s amazing how God can take a church service, a slideshow, or even a moment, and slowly mold it into His greatest masterpiece, which is our lives.

That’s what I think about when I look at these pictures. These are for you, Torrey and Rose! Thank you.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I miss you all so much! For a special Thanksgiving dinner tonight, the World Vision staff took us to Mama Clinda's, where we dined on Cui (Guinea Pig), and the most amazing cheesy mashed potatoes I've ever had. It was delicious!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

We had a great day today up in the mountains doing a story on alpacas! Although it was a bit, shall we say, messy. Check it out:

Monday, November 23, 2009

Last night, we watched a gorgeous sunset during our flight to Ecuador.


Today we visited Mitad del Mundo - The middle of the world.

Also known as the belly button of the world.  I like that name better.

I balanced on the Equator

Photos of Quito...

There was this amazing church that seemed to rise up out of the city...

While taking these pictures, a pack of 3 dogs came running over the hill toward me.  They were barking, and giving me a really good look at their teeth.  It's so ironic that often when I travel, dogs seem to really dislike me.  Don't they know that I love their species??  Anyways, this is the one that I thought was going to bite me...

And then this lady ran up behind them, and started yelling at me in Spanish. 

I later realized that she was trying to tell me that the dogs wouldn't hurt me.  Could have fooled me...they looked pretty vicious, and their teeth came frighteningly close to my leg.

This wonderful man is Patricio Ricardo Izquierdo Salvador.  We call him Pato.  He is the Internal Communications Officer at World Vision, Ecuador.

Pato has this amazing goutee!  I just had to take a picture of it.

These are a couple of murals that were near the Mitad del Mundo. 


We have a really early rise tomorrow, and it's currently 12:46 am.  Nite. Nite!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Away We Go!

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Away We Go!

This morning I awoke to synthetic harp sounds from my iPhone alarm clock.  2:20 a.m.?  How could it already be time to wake up?  The adventure is finally beginning, I thought to myself.  I gave my Golden Retriever, Sugar, one last belly rub before heading to the shower. 

Today I am traveling to Ecuador.  It’s the first leg on a 4 week around the world trip with World Vision.  I will be shooting and producing videos, taking still pictures, and blogging about how World Vision’s Gift Catalog is helping children and families around the world.  And this time, I have decided to write a blog.

To be honest, I’m writing this blog for my family.  For all the years I’ve been traveling internationally, it’s amazing how terrible I’ve been at communicating my experiences. 

Usually when I come home from a trip, they ask me, “How was your trip?” 
I answer, “It was really great.” 
They say, “Wonderful, we’re glad you had a good time.” 
I reply, “Yes, it was difficult, but very rewarding.”  
They add, “Well, it’s nice to have you home.” 
I conclude, “I’m really glad to be home too.” 
And then we continue to drive down the gray pavement of my re-entry.  I’m sure my silence stems from childhood experiences of sitting through three-hour slideshow presentations given by my great Aunt Francis.  We would gather in her living room, lime punch and Swedish Krumkake cookies in hand, and listen to a live narrated slideshow of her latest greatest adventures.  Although these events created some wonderful childhood memories for me, I realize now that I never cared as much about her trips as she did.  And I fear my family will feel the same if I start soliloquizing about long plane flights, dusty jeep rides, and children’s stories of survival and loss.

If you’ve traveled for any length of time, I’m sure you understand what I’m talking about.  No matter how well you tell the story, or explain where you were when you took the picture, your explanation will never be as powerful as the moment of experience. 

I am constantly amazed that the World Wide Web hosts millions of blogs from people all over the world - millions of people who have something meaningful to say - every single day.  I’m not a great writer, and I’m not sure I have anything intelligent to say, but if you’re having trouble sleeping over the next month, keep this blog in your bookmarks.  I’ll do my best to entertain you with my world pieces.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

I took the dogs for a long walk at Dash Point State Park this afternoon.  They were in heaven.


This is my new toy - a Nikon D90! I haven't had the chance to wear it in, but am hoping to experiment before my around the world trip in November. The dogs and cat are very patient as I "click click click" around the house.