Monday, February 18, 2008

Camden to Colombia....

Heading into day four in Colombia, it still seems slightly surreal to be here with 11 Americans, visiting foundations and seeing projects that I have spoken about so many times, but so rarely been able to share the experience with anyone first hand. So often over the years, I've separated my American life from my Colombian life and my social life from my volunteer work, but being able to spend time with some of my best friends, while teaching them about the country and social projects that mean so much to me is indescribable. We arrived late on Friday night, and first thing Saturday morning met with 10 foundations from all over Colombia to give a workshop on the use of digital photography to raise awareness about social causes and provide kids with an artistic outlet. Eliza Massey acted out the photographic process with her normal enthusiasm and charisma, lying on the floor, crouching down, and lurching behind her subjects in order to show the kids how to get just the right picture.
We listened to the goals and proposed projects of all the foundations, all of which are grassroots initiatives in severely marginalized, impoverished, and often violent parts of Colombia. One project, called Shooting Cameras for Peace, attended our workshop and offered their experiences working with kids, cameras, and violent conflict. We will be working to support the continuance of their project and they will be offering us guidance and follow up support to the foundations in Colombia that have been awarded cameras.
There's a lot more I could write.... we've been visiting neighborhoods, learning sign language with deafblind kids, and today, we visited Fundacion Formemos, the first place I worked when I arrived to Colombia.... I'll add more in the next couple days, but right now, having stopped to rest for the first time all day, I'm realizing how exhausted I am want to try and get at least one full night of rest. My friend Kevin Hanson, has also started a blog. He came to Colombia for the first time several months ago after a trip I helped him organize through Partners of the Americas and, having fallen in love with Colombia, he's back for a couple months to help me with the photography project and intern with various other organizations. Some of you might find his comments interesting as well.