Home Africa One. More. Week. (insert sad face)

One. More. Week. (insert sad face)

February 16, 2013

I arrived in Tanzania four weeks ago, after a day and a half of travel. Today begins my last week in Africa before I head to London, then Chicago, and eventually find myself back in Nashville. Time here has definitely flown by, but I feel like I’ve been out of the States much, much longer. It’s bizarre to think about. I face a fair amount of uncertainty with no guaranteed income, no real schedule to follow, and no routine to return to. There will need to be some balance of making a living and continuing on with this project as it will be far from finished just because there are no more photos to take.

Thus far, there hasn’t been that moment when it all clicked (or that moment where I came totally undone, which is probably more surprising!) and I could see it all coming together.  Sure, I have a crap-ton of photos from my time with the NGO’s and out on my own. I have humbling, hilarious, and heart-breaking stories to share as well. And gifts and souvenirs? Yeah, way too many of those this time around!

But the question of what I’ll do with the photos still remains. Originally, I had some ideas in mind and still plan to implement those as I can. I knew that I didn’t want to be too strict and let things happen more organically. I wanted to allow the stories and pictures to develop rather than be forced. So much of it really is just about volunteering my time (and talents) to these NGO’s. There are the selfish reasons as well, like the opportunity to take a 6-week “vacation” to a beautiful country! 🙂

I’m still hanging on to most of the images from my time with the NGO’s. As I sort through and edit them, ideas are taking shape. In most cases, I wish I had taken about twice as many, but I think I can make what I have work!

Honestly, so very much of this trip was internal. Having done photo work with non-profits back home, I’ve reaped the benefits of volunteering and experienced the results of my work being used. I know that heart-tugging moments come when you find yourself humbled by the world around you and connected to a life so different than what you know to be the norm. And nothing feels more right then when you’re able to experience that and use your gifts in the process.

This trip hasn’t been some incredibly life-changing experience (I would argue the first trip to Africa was that), hasn’t birthed anything I would call a Pulitzer, and definitely hasn’t revealed much more of my future than was already known. And I don’t think any of my photographs have saved a life! However, the people I’ve met and been able to share with (mostly Americans, but a few English-speaking Tanzanians), the village children whose days are made by a quick wave and a smile (and some poorly attempted Swahili), and the simple encouragement offered to the individuals who work tirelessly to keep these NGO’s afloat have hopefully made a difference. If I can continue that through images then I’ll call it all a success!

Thanks for coming along with me, friends. This thing ain’t over yet!

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Here’s a view of Mwanza — likely not what you think of when you think of Africa, eh?


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