Why Rwanda: exploring humanitarian photography!

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Grab a seat and cup of tea, because I have a lot to share...

When I was 16 years old, I had the opportunity to accompany my Grandma on a trip to Bolivia. She had spent her teen years there while her parents were missionaries in South America. And, after retiring form Boeing, she wanted to do a little reunion trip of her own. But, she was very shy, and I was willing to talk to strangers; so, I got to be her travel companion. It was my first trip to a 3rd world country, and an intensely eye-opening experience. I cried tears of joy when she asked me to go!

The next year, she asked me to be her traveling companion while helping to build houses in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. Again, I was eager to see the world, and was deeply changed by seeing refugees from a natural disaster in another impoverished country. I will never forget our visit to the refugee camp. At 17, my view of the world grew even deeper, and found myself wanting to help in the future, not just by swinging hammers and building 7 new homes alongside 40 other volunteers.

Food For The Hungry Garden: the boy's favorite veggie is the carrot!

©Holli Margell - Food For The Hungry Garden: the boy's favorite veggie is the carrot!

Fast forward 15 years, a marriage and two kids, and I found myself back in Bolivia learning humanitarian photography in an immersion style workshop setting. It really put that heart passion to the test, and I learned that I do indeed enjoy this type of work! I also grew my photography skills in a very short amount of time, and LOVED every minute of it.

This August, I'm traveling to Rwanda to do another immersion style workshop to help an orphanage run by a wonderful local woman. And, I'm putting this passion to the test to see if I can do humanitarian work that is truly heart deep. In Bolivia, we worked with communities learning to fight childhood malnutrition. That mostly meant visiting family homes and communities with gardens, fully intact family and community relationships that mirrored our own here in Seattle...minus the consistent electricity and clean water out of the tap. I really enjoyed it, but I still have a lot to learn about the breadth of humanitarian work and what my heart can handle. I joke with my husband about coming home and wanting to find room in our two bedroom house for 5 more kids! It's not a joke, I'm really not sure how I am going to experience seeing so many kids without a family of their own.

My dream is to be able to go out and do a humanitarian job once per year internationally, and more work locally. I think that my background from Wedding photography and now a focus on business helps me focus on how to deliver those images that connect with the mission of an organization or business and their supporters.

Here are two examples that show my volunteer photography at my kids' school before the Bolivia workshop and after: Mind you, I've done a lot of volunteer photography in the community, but this shows the difference a year makes.

BEFORE the Bolivia workshop...

Angry Birds game 2015

Angry Birds game 2015: pretty good, but a bit busy.

AFTER the Bolivia workshop:

Angry Birds game at field day 2016: a better story image.

Angry Birds game at field day 2016: a better story image that engages you right away.

I'm delighted to learn more and am extra thrilled, because a fellow Seattle Photographer, Lena Eivy of Lena Eivy Photography is joining me!!! And, I'll be meeting a fellow workshop alumni there in Rwanda too. I've got women with a heart's desire like mine that I get to call my friends!

As we prepare for this experience, Lena and I have decided to offer to teach to help us fundraise for such a big journey...

We've taught a classes separately, and did a combined class as a fundraiser for our kids school together, so it only seemed natural to offer that as a way to help us grow and spread the love.

We're offering 2 photography classes in August before the trip! To learn more, please visit our sign up here: Photography Classes for A Cause.

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