My personal journey was fraught with perils and buoyed by compassion and luck. If it weren't for the kindness of family, friends, and complete strangers, I would not be here today. By using my talents to enlighten others about people's worlds we may not otherwise know about, I serve and give back.
These photos are part of my personal passion projects. While traveling, my wife Sue Fan and I have incorporated volunteer work into our plans. We hope to spread the word about programs we have witnessed for ourselves. There can sometimes be a cloud of mystery or skepticism when it comes to direct donations to NGOs and Non-Profits with astronomical overhead. A lack of transparency makes us feel vulnerable when trying to help the world's truly vulnerable.
The programs we have found to be most successful are extremely empowering. Micro-lending programs teach communities to responsibly borrow money for family needs and small businesses while creating accountability. By recognizing women as the driving force for family well-being, these programs not only help the family and community thrive, but change attitudes about women in predominantly male-centric societies.
Habitat for Humanity is my favorite program as it takes physical action and turns it into results. From 2003 to 2008, we saw entire townships outside of Cape Town, South Africa transform from tin sheds to brick and mortar homes.
We also sought out refugee populations. While my first attempts to visit a Rwandan refugee camp in Tanzania were thwarted by the program I was working for, we did seek out Tibetan refugees in Nepal. What we found was a peaceful community comprised of Stateless Nationals that had no voting or legal rights in Nepal.
I hope these quick glimpses of the faces and places that make up the rarely seen populations bring about a sense of humanity. I use the camera as my voice to express compassion and hope to inspire some level of action in my audience. While I may not appear as a subject in these photos, I love nothing more than slinging a hammer to build shelter for families and sharing smiles with people who know that love is all you need...