For those of you who have followed this journey with us from the beginning, you know that exactly one year ago we made the big announcement that would change our hearts forever … if you need to catch up, you can start HERE. and then click on categories at the top and choose “Africa”.
It’s amazing to me that one year ago, I was preparing for my first trip to Africa and preparing my heart to see true suffering. Sure I had seen the images on TV of the little kids with swollen bellies and flys swarming around their face, but I had never stood in the middle of a country devastated my war and mass murder, leaving countless victims to fend for themselves. I had never traveled to an “amputee camp” to see men and women outcast from society for brutality they did not ask for nor deserve, or walked the dusty roads of a tiny country filled with huts we would never have our pets stay, little children running around with tattered and dirty clothing and swollen bellies because they had never known the feeling of being satisfied after a meal. No, exactly one year ago, as my plane landed in the country of Sierra Leone, and I stepped out onto the tar runway, alone, I knew that while I didn’t have a clue of what I would experience, I knew from that moment on, my heart would be forever changed.
… what a difference a year has made!
More than what has changed in my heart, there has been remarkable change at the Wellington Orphanage where I fell head over heels in love with 84 spectacular children! For one, now there are 10 more children that have been taken in to be cared for, making it 94 children I will soon see again! In the past year alone, the Wellington Orphanage has seen great change because of the generosity of those who are called to travel and those who have generously given to the cause. For starters, nearly all the children in the orphanage have a sponsor, and many of them have two! Not only does this money provide basics necessities, such as clean water and food (two bowls of rice per day), it also provides uniforms and education. Also in the past year, Revive Africa has replaced ALL the bunk beds in the orphanage (a 10K project). While we were there last march, a top bunk holding a sleeping child fell on top of another bunk also holding a child. Thank God neither were injured, but it was a enough for the women on the trip to raise the money needed to replace the beds! Also this year, the kids experienced their first ever Christmas! Can you imagine life without Christmas?? They, of course, celebrate the meaning of Christmas each year, but had never experienced the joy of receiving even the smallest of gifts. This year that all changed!
Even more than what Revive Africa has been doing this year, specifically out of my trip last March, we were able to sell fine art prints of the images you see below, at the Golf Tournament last summer. Those images alone raised over $600 or more! We were also able to create and sell the first annual The World Should Know Calendar. This year, we have already sold 1000 calendars (totaling 13,500!!!) and we project that we will sell double that next year. One of the pressing issues on my heart is the lack of nutrition provided to these kids. Revive Africa is currently working on raising funds for the Poultry Project, which would provide the kids with some protein in their diets. Because of rising costs of food in Sierra Leone, the orphans only eat two bowls of rice per day and occasionally receive some fruit. It is my determination to see this project carried out …
So I must say thank you! Thank you to all of you who gave to our mission last year, and those of you who purchased a calendar this year! It is because of you that real change can and will happen in the lives of 94 precious children I wish you all could meet.
I will be traveling, yet again, back to Sierra Leone, this time with a small team of 5 amazing souls. I will have the privileged of traveling again with my great friends, Rachel, Joanna, and Paul, co-founder of Revive Africa, as well as my dear photographer friend, Lauren! The five of us have very specific roles to play on this trip, but I’d say we are all most excited about loving on some super special kids! I will be shooting the 2011 The World Should Know Calendar, as well as collecting more fine art images to be sold in order to raise funds. Lauren and I are teaming together to take necessary equipment to photograph people in the village who have no documentation of their families existence. We hope to capture something that they will forever treasure! Also, a special group of women in my bible study are coming together to provide care packages for the women on staff at the orphanage! I can’t wait to deliver them and see the joy on their faces …
You, too, can join forces with us again to help create real change. Because of your generosity last year, 100% of the calendar and fine art print sales went directly toward projects that give these kids a hope and a future!! This year, we hope for the same! Love, Me Photography will provide for the cost for all traveling expenses so that I can go and photograph the 2011 calendar. Any amount that we raise will go directly toward the 2011 Calendar project that we hope will raise $27,500 next year!!! Every penny goes to providing a better life for these precious children who have stolen my heart and hopefully yours!
No amount is too small or not worthy of this amazing cause! And it is appreciated … by me, but more importantly, by the children whose lives you have changed … every penny makes a difference. Lauren and I are teaming together to raise 5K. You can read her story HERE.