Thursday, September 11, 2008

If you saw a hit and run, would you tell anybody?

Visiting the ghettos in a third world country can feel like a punch in the stomach. Like witnessing a terrible car wreck... an accident in which no one want to take responsibility for the victims who are left writhing in pain.

How can I witness such a need for the basic necessities of life (like healthy water) and not tell someone about it. I just got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic taking photos for two fantastic non-profits that are doing something to help: Compassion International & Healing Waters. It feels good to have done something to contribute to their efforts.

My parents have sponsored children through Compassion International for over 25 years. We always had pictures on our refrigerator to remind us of them. This was the second international trip I've made taking marketing pictures for Compassion Int. (You can see my Africa trip blog here).

Compassion's focus is helping the poorest of the poor children of the world. Thru community churches, they mobilize thousands of volunteers and staff to help over 1 million children around the world get food, medical attention, education, and encouragement. In America, sponsors help make this possible with $35/month and letters to their sponsored children.

Compassion realizes they can not help the poorest of the poor children of the world if the children are sick all the time because they don't have access to clean water. Healing Waters is a non-profit NGO (non-government-organization) that has a passion for installing clean drinking water systems in some of the poorest areas of the world. I don't want to bore you... check out their site here if you are interested in what they do.

I hope my pictures will help spur someone into action. Volunteer, here or abroad. Donate. Go on a trip. Sponsor a child. Do something.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

USA Sponsors visit their sponsored kids.

Some sponsors take their job as a sponsor very seriously. I had the honor of documenting some of these sponsors traveling to their children's homes. This means so much to the children that I can't explain in here in my last few ounces of post midnight blogging brain power. But put yourself in the position of one of these kids. It's like Santa coming town... to visit you. These sponsors have huge hearts.

25,000 sponsor letters have to be translated in the Dominican Republic alone! Wow!

The Children

I've been blessed to do a lot of traveling in my life. I have seen one universal truth in every country: children are beautiful.

Villa Duerte Slums

The DR has some amazing tourist destinations, but this was ours.
200 kids are sponsored by Compassion in this area.

This is a third world electrical breaker-box... in plain reach of children.
This boy is filling plastic water containers with unsanitary water for drinking. Healing waters installs water systems in churches that sell the purified water for 1/3 the cost of other sources, making clean water affordable to the poor.

Hurricane Gustav

This was the condition of may roads as Gustav pummeled Haiti, just 150 miles from Santo Domingo.
This was a 10 second night exposure of what is normally crystal-clear blue water... now turned to a brown surf under sheets of rain.

We learned the next day of a mother and six children who's home fell into a rising river. All seven perished while the father was at work.

The is the location of the tragedy. We didn't go down to the river, but we could clearly see how the overcrowded slums had pushed some houses out dangerously close to the river.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Santo Domingo

OK, this isn't fair to Santo Domingo. We spent only a few rare moments in the touristy or historic areas of the Dominican Republic. These images don't serve justice to the extensive cultural and historical depth of the city.
This is the Columbus family palace. It was built by Christopher Columbus's son, Diego, and overlooks the River Ozama and large Plaza Espana.  It is crazy old... 500 years?
This salesman in the market is showing me his specialty - tequila in a bottle with sticks of cinnamon stuffed inside.  Sounded yummy, but my hands were full.


"Delivery bike."
"Street corner veggies."

"Dryer".  Note the tangle of electrical wires above.