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Project esperanza

Even in the most difficult of circumstances and living in what would be considered harsh conditions by western standards, this woman's request to have her photo taken revealed to me a softness about her. It is easy to judge others based on appearance, education, or living conditions, but where we landed in this world was pretty much like a geographic lottery. It's up to us to make the best of the hand we are dealt or where we arrived. The softness, the bravery, the kindness and how we respond to the world around us...it's a choice. Poverty Photojournalism Mexico Worldwaterday Innocence Connected Happiness Child Portrait Children Beyond The Border Project Esperanza Border Stories Woman Portrait Women And Children Nikon D7200 Nikon Blackandwhite Blackandwhite Photography The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Human Condition
"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." I am often asked why we spend every vacation south of the border or why we spend so much time helping people we don't even know. My answer is this. These faces, these people. They work their way in to your heart and we cannot not return. We enjoy visits back and to see how the kids in the border communities have changed and grown, but it's even better to see their faces when we return. We come to be with them and offer them hope. We let them know that they matter, and we want them to feel that we are not a "drive by" group of Americans wanting to take selfies with poor kids. We hope they recognize that we return because we care, and we've committed to reaching out in an effort to close the distance between our cultures. Mexico Children Photojournalism Poverty Beyond The Border Project Esperanza Border Stories Blackandwhite Blackandwhite Photography Black And White Portrait The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Natural Light Portrait
I've held off posting the last few weeks as I have needed to reflect on my intention in sharing these images publicly. I honestly don't feel qualified in many ways to be sharing the lives of others who live so differently than I do. I don't have professional training as a journalist or as a photographer, and so I've spent years telling myself that most people don't care about poverty or human suffering that is beyond their control. Because of this I have held thousands of photos captive on my hard drive, and in my head the narrative that goes with them. I recognize that my original personal goal of giving away portraits and connecting with others was met, but it has always felt unfinished. What I have uncovered in my reflection is that I want to share is actually very simple. I'd like others to know and hopefully understand why so many people risk everything to come to the United States illegally. I know that regardless of class or circumstance that every one of us is of equal value, and I believe we are more dependent on one another's happiness than we realize. I've also concluded that the only qualifications I need are my personal experiences. I am hopeful that I can communicate this message in these images and stories and encourage others to think more compassionately about all those we come into contact with who might share a different life than we do. Telling Stories Differently Up Close Street Photography Mexico Poverty Nikon Child Poverty Border Stories Documentary Photography Project Esperanza Innocence Photojournalism The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Photojournalist - 20I6 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - The 2016 EyeEm Awards Feel The Journey
The Unicef and the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval), reveals that of the 40 million Mexican children under 17, 53.8 percent live in poverty, and of these, 4.7 million (12.1 percent) live in abject poverty. Border Stories Project Esperanza Women Children Photojournalism Women And Children Beyond The Border The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - The 2016 EyeEm Awards
He lives in a former landfill. He plays in the dirt road where raw sewage runs through the street, but he is happy. Beyond The Border Mexico Poverty Children Project Esperanza Border Stories Blackandwhite Black And White Black And White Photography Black And White Portrait The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Following Natural Light Portrait
The Cycle Continues // Although the Mexican government provides educational opportunities for all children to attend school, there are still the costs of required uniforms and transportation that prevent children from attending. Many parents struggling to provide food for their children simply cannot afford to send their children to school. This, in turn, contributes to the cycle of poverty that forces many children to work instead of pursuing an education Innocence . Beyond The Border Photojournalism Women And Children Project Esperanza Border Stories Woman Portrait Mexico The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Human Condition The Portraitist - The 2016 EyeEm Awards The Photojournalist - 20I6 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Natural Light Portrait
Clean Water = Better Health // In many communities around the world, bathing is done with water from buckets outdoors. Some families build a small room next to the house for added privacy, and they might upgrade from buckets to a large water trough intended for livestock or other animals. They usually heat the bath water over a fire, and it is such a process that water is often shared by the entire family. For kids like Cecile, (pictured here) a real bath with indoor plumbing is a luxury. World Health Day Worldhealthorganization Documentary Photography Mexico Poverty Showcase April Portrait Of A Girl Portrait Bajacalifornia Child Poverty Beauty Redefined Border Stories Project Esperanza Beyond The Border Nikon The Photojournalist - 20I6 EyeEm Awards The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards
Every visit south of the border seems to carry its own anxieties for me. They are likely different from most travelers, who worry about safety and the crime stories that are overplayed in the news media. Each time I visit, I'm less concerned with those things, and more nervous about whether or not the friends I have made will still be there. This little girl captured my heart during a stay a few years ago. She followed me around and I followed her. We made bracelets and played games. She had a constant smile on her face and it was only when I got home and went through my photos that I really noticed her scar. She had been living at the orphanage we often visit and when we left I told her I hoped to see her again in a few months, but a few months later when we returned she was gone. After inquiring about her I was told that her father had come for her and whatever circumstances had brought her there had changed. It's hard to describe how that made me feel, because really she was a stranger. We don't even speak the same language, but we had formed a connection of the heart, and each time I see this photo of her I am reminded of that. I have hope that her future is bright, that she is safe, and that she feels loved. We don't know the lasting effect of our interactions with others, but this experience helps me to realize the importance of making the time we have with those around us matter. We don't always remember things that are said, but we often remember how people make us feel. So if you need some love in your life, go give some away first! The Photojournalist – 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Telling Stories Differently Nikon D7200 Documentary Poverty Documentary Photography Photojournalism Child Poverty Nikon Border Stories Project Esperanza Child Portrait Happiness The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Natural Light Portrait
The Dishes // No water for washing, these pots and pans sit outside a makeshift home that does not have indoor plumbing. Nikon Border Stories Project Esperanza Beyond The Border Worldwaterday Mexico Photojournalism Poverty Blackandwhite Blackandwhite Photography The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Street Photographer - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards
Well Loved // Carefully placed on the wall in front of a simple home, the fact that these worn balls were still inflated was miraculous. The boys who live here and the neighborhood children play games of pick up soccer on the dirt roads over looking the ocean. If hit too hard a ball could head over a cliff and be gone forever, but because they have so few things and the balls are so valued by the boys who own them, they have survived. If only children who lived in the developed consumer crazy world a short distance away could value their things this way. How to contribute more to the world and consume less are qualities I would like my own kids to posses. These balls are a symbol of that for me. Child Poverty Children Happiness Beautiful Poverty Photojournalism Project Esperanza Mexico Beyond The Border Border Stories Nikon Beauty Redefined Soccer Futbol Basketball Sport Ball Gratitude Documentary Documentary Photography The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Photojournalist – 2016 EyeEm Awards The Street Photographer - 2016 EyeEm Awards Feel The Journey Fine Art Photography
Cielo // The smile she wears on this day is because she does not have to go to work with her parents in the fields of Baja California. She was dropped off at the local orphanage for daycare where there are volunteers who will play with her and provide activities that allow her to just be a kid. Cielo suffered from health issues related to the pesticides that are used on the crops. Fortunately her parents have found a safe place for her to go while they work. Many children are not so lucky and the exposure at such a young age can lead to many health problems down the road. There is a high cost to inexpensive imported fruit and vegetables and the health of the migrant workers children is one of them. Nikon Innocence Border Stories Beyond The Border Project Esperanza Mexico Photojournalism Poverty Beautiful Girl Beautiful Child Portrait Children Happiness Child Poverty The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Capture The Moment The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Telling Stories Differently Documentary Photography
Dulce // Her name means sweet but her life is not. Dulce lives with dozens of other families who are squatting on private land that over looks the Pacific Ocean. The mix of people who live there include small families and drug dealers. Police make rounds through the neighborhood as if patrolling, but a variety of illegal activity continues on a daily basis. On my last 3 visits to the neighborhood, I found only Dulce's mother and brothers at home. Each time a different explanation was given as to her whereabouts. Hopefully she is safe, but my gut tells me differently. Beautiful People Beauty Beautiful Girl Beauty Redefined Black And White Photography Black And White Portrait Poverty Photojournalism Mexico Project Esperanza Beyond The Border Border Stories Nikon Innocence Portrait Portrait Of A Girl The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards The Portraitist - 2016 EyeEm Awards Natural Light Portrait
Recently there was a comment made about a photo of mine, suggesting that I shouldn't forget the poverty that exists everywhere and that in the U.S. we have poverty too. I want this commenter to know that I understand what was being said and I am very aware that poverty is a global issue. My husband and I have an organization that has raised significant amounts of money for our local food bank over the last 10 years. We have also supported organizations like a Heifer International, but I have chosen to highlight these people because in the U.S. and particularly in California, we only hear two stories from the mainstream news media about Mexico. Illegal Immigration, drugs and violence are the stories that Americans are fed every day. This has created a lot of ignorance and fear and anger toward our southern neighbors. I want people to know that the above mentioned issues are not political issues, but human problems. That the poverty in Mexico or anywhere is not separate from us who are more fortunate. In the U.S. we have social services that provides resources so that no one should truly go hungry. Here we have clean water available at any drinking fountain in any public park. These are things us Americans take for granted. I'm hoping to tell a different story to foster understanding and encourage others to have more compassion and either take action or just have more gratitude in their own lives. I tell these stories because I was a witness to them, and feel I have a responsibility to share them. As a photographer, I become a witness to things like this and can honestly only share from what I've seen and experienced. Fortunately there are others in every corner of the world photographing and witnessing what exists in front of them. Photojournalism Landscape Bajacalifornia Mexico Beyond The Border Documentary Beautiful Border Stories Project Esperanza Child Poverty Beauty Redefined Documentary Photography Showcase April The Photojournalist - 2016 EyeEm Awards