I started a nonprofit, Star Shooter: phototherapy for kids, in 2008; and my focus to help children continues to increase with a target on those that have been or are at risk of human trafficking. I have visions of bringing therapeutic photography workshops to children that have been trafficked or sexually abused, as a form of therapy and an expressive tool for healing. In my research, I came across an incredible cause and organization of women, for women and children, to bring awareness to those oppressed. This organization, Freedom Climb, is composed of a group of women who climbed Mt. Kilmanjaro to bring awareness and raise funds for women and children around the world that have been or are at risk of human trafficking, as well as those that have suffered some kind of oppression. In March 2012, I traveled with a small group of women, including the founder and visionary of the Freedom Climb, to visit the projects in Bangladesh of which are being funded by the support raised from their climb in Africa. Projects such as children’s sports programs in schools, elementary schools and literacy classes in villages and sewing/tailoring and computer classes to provide women with a trade. In one week, I visited over ten different amazing projects that are empowering women and children that have been or at risk of slavery in some way. Not only did I document the progress of these projects with my camera to create awareness for this cause, but this trip serves as research and preparation for what Star Shooter can do with children in such programs, that are all over the world.
The first image below of children in Bangladesh running represented a “Motivation Touchstone” for a doctoral project of mine. I’m currently in my doctoral studies for psychology. It is an ever growing passion of mine to help the hurting children all over the world using photography. This image is my product to help me keep sight of the shore when the fog rolls in. The subject matter of happy impoverished children has dual meanings to me: 1) That all children are innocent, pliable and have a unique and valuable individuality that is waiting to be expressed and encouraged. 2) This image reminds me of the reason for my passion: to equip and empower children all around the world to be the best they can be. And that I captured this image on my first international trip while in my doctorate studies, as well as my first international trip with a focus to merge my passion and skills together, is bliss.
The five images at the end were from my visit at the Hand and Cloth in Bangladesh. Women who were homeless, exploited and trafficked have the opportunity to build life skills through sewing. They take several vintage sarongs and hand-quilted them to create beautiful blankets. It is amazing to see the wonderful work being done throughout the world, and I was honored to witness the impact being made in women’s lives at Hand and Cloth. You can purchase these blankets on their website at http://handandcloth.org.
I am simply overjoyed and honored to be apart of making an impact in the lives of our next generation internationally. I simply love to get my feet dirty, drip sweat, almost die in crazy maniac traffic, eat rice with my hands and have a constant curiosity of my camera being stolen from me as I walk through villages where “white people” have never walked… ; )
If you would like to find out how you can support me in this ongoing project for children, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.