One of the hardest parts of being a photojournalist, is the feeling that I hide behind my camera, and dont interact. Sometimes this is true. For a week in Nicaragua, it wasnt. In the past I have taken tons of photos and been primarily focused on telling the story of Daniel Bain and his wife Jessenia, and the kids that they are working with inside their children’s home.
This year, was different. I barely picked up a camera, I barely took any photos, and while I wish that I had more to show, the experience of leading a team of six people, with my wife Kelly, was worth all the missed photos. The memories of working together, and guiding people through personal growth, and physical labor, was totally worth it.
We started out the week celebrating mothers day with the children from the home. Pizza, games, a pinata. It was chaos. And as the kids ran around, and spent time with their families, seeing the joy that was over flowing, was a pretty awesome experience.
Monday we took the team to La Chureca. La Chureca is the Managua city dump, and until two years ago, nearly 850 people lived there. Today the families live in houses inside a small community built by the Spanish and Nicaraguan governments. Many people now work in the recycling plant that has been built at the dump, but some families still go out to the dump and forage for anything that may have value. Rubber, plastic, metal, copper. Men and women spend hours digging through garbage to find items of value, and then spend even more time back at home, working to salvage the metal out of tires, the copper out of cables, only to go back out and do it again. It was eye opening to say the least, and the team began to understand more clearly, how our hardest days trying to find work, pale in comparison to what many people around the world do.
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we spent time at the childrens home. Tuesday we helped with homework, and Wednesday and Thursday we painted some of the bedrooms.
Friday we traveled around the countryside, and ended the day having lunch and swimming with the kids in a beautiful crater lake, before saying goodbye and leaving Saturday morning.
For me, this trip was about seeing and being a part of the group. No hanging back behind a camera in my own safe world. I played, laughed, chased, splattered pain all over me, led discussions, and spent time making friends, and talking with Kelly in ways we often seem to not have time for.
Till next year Nicaragua, enjoy the photos.