Posts Tagged ‘ la carpio ’

Still Waiting: Tips for Sensible Volunteer Travel Photography

Still Waiting by jdespres15
Still Waiting, a photo by jdespres15 on Flickr.

I am slowly editing all of my photos from La Carpio while trying to ease back in to my routine. When the Travel4Souls crew first walked through the unpaved streets of the “Village of Hope” we were warned not to take out any expensive looking cameras. Prepared for this, I had brought a couple of disposables. I only shot about half way through one of the cardboard cheapies before I stopped and realized that I had been had!

I have always been weary of the sensationalization caused by the general media and was and am still very protective of my notorious hometown, New Bedford, MA. Why was I afraid of walking around La Carpio with a Canon?

My advice when traveling with expensive photographic equipment that you are aching to use in such situations?

1. Use the same sense in any slum that you would in New York, Lima, or Paris. Try to stay in a group. Don’t walk around alone at night, and keep your belongings close.

2. Don’t get in people’s faces with your $2000 worth of B&H goods. Don’t get in to people’s faces with your $3.99 disposable camera from the pharmacy. Either way, it’s rude. Feel out the situation. Not knowing the language well, I gestured kindly at folks, while pointing at the camera and awaiting either smiles and poses (99% of the time) or dirty looks. The latter situation? Smile and put the camera away. If you speak the language and people seem approachable, chat them up. Whether or not this interaction ends up captured in a frame, you are certainly being respectful of their wishes and having a more meaningful engagement. This falls in the same category as street photography in Seattle, Atlanta or Any Town, USA, etc…

3. Don’t be a walking billboard. I bought a map case from the Army/Navy store for a mere $14. I had already removed my Canon strap for a more comfy and (of course) fashionable subtle camera strap that I had found in the Photojojo! store last year. Keep the strap tight around your wrists and the satchel swung to the front of your body.

4. Keep it simple. One lens will do. If you are a great street photographer, you should know that the best shots are unexpected, somewhat unfocused, and very candid. There is no need for a telephoto lens unless you want to peer in to people’s homes, and if you plan on doing so please re-read #2. The best photos in my particular scenario were results of engagement with the subjects. Read some great tips from Chris Osburn, fellow blogger.

5. Do not EVER exploit your subjects. In La Carpio it was inevitable to take shots of the filthy roads and some sad faces, but my energy went towards taking photos of people who wanted their photos taken. I didn’t sneak around corners to grab shots of young children crying in sewage so I could use it later in some sad PowerPoint campaign with a certain easy-listening sad ballad blaring in the background. Yeison, our amazing tour guide, taught me how to ask “Is it okay if I take your photo?”. The majority excitedly obliged and the result has been a stunningly happy photographic narrative. (One school teacher, much younger than me, even happily corrected my Spanish while posing for a photo in one of the classrooms.)

While the truths of La Carpio peek out in many of the shots, they are just that — truths! And the fact that I could capture such beautiful smiles, saturated and lively art murals, and true heart in these photos is simply a testament to the unparalleled spirits of the people of La Carpio.

Here a family waves, smiling from their porch. This is one of the few that I could salvage from the disposable camera, inherently dreary and grainy. I find it beautiful, nonetheless. It’s just simply not an accurate depiction of La Carpio.

Via Flickr:

La Carpio. Taken with a $3 disposable, Family sits on porch and waves.

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Winners Winners Coffee Dinner!

The Doka Coffee Estate: Costa Rica

Doka coffee is known to many as the best coffee in Costa Rica. I'd agree.

The winner of the blog subscription contests are: Kate Ouellette, Kimberly Ferencz, Chuck Robertson, Alison Despres, Daryl Poeira, Joseph Ho, Susannah Williamson, and Remy Haynes! You all will be receiving a thank you card, printed photo with a special back story from the trip (different for each winner), and some random little goodies from Costa Rica. All for just subscribing to this blog. What a deal. Please, if you have not yet, email or message me your mailing addresses. It will take a little while for me to gather everything, but I guarantee you it will be worth the wait. And the grand prize winner, who will be receiving all of the above and a bag of amazing coffee straight from the Doka Estate is Joseph Ho. This is some good stuff. The estate is located on the fertile slopes of the active Alajuela Poas Volcano, which we hiked to the top of after a day of distributing shoes.

All other donors and sponsors will receive a thank you card and photo. Please email me your mailing address or DM me on Twitter, as soon as possible. Lots more news to follow, including news of a return visit to the land that stole my heart in May of 2012. Check back soon.

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To donate to the Costa Rica Humanitarian Foundation, please click here. A permanent link is now at the top of the blog.

Rare Footage: “Village of Hope: La Carpio” by Dana Freedman

Beta tester. First in line. Tick-tick-tick-technology…

SEO. SSO. Tagging. Sharing. Liking. Bragging.

Pre-ordering the pre-order. Flaunting exclusive invitations. App updates. Touch screen. Voice activate.

Faster. Smaller. Slimmer. Gotta have it first. Better than last month’s version.

Well you have come to the right place, because here is some footage you will not see any where else. Rare, raw, emotional, and real, the story of how La Carpio. Please take the time to watch and hear these stories, and share if you please.

Village of Hope: La Carpio from Dana Freedman on Vimeo.

It Just Changes You: La Pequeña Princesa de las Mariposas y los Zapatos Mágicos

**La Pequeña Princesa de la Mariposas y los Zapatos Mágicos = Tiny Butterfly Princess and her Magic Shoes

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As I walked swiftly through customs I screeched to a halt when I saw the sign: Exit to Miami. I clutched my carry-on as if it was a security blanket. Maybe if I chose to not walk out that door, I could stay in Costa Rica for as long as I pleased? Maybe??

I wasn’t ready. I never expected to feel this way. I fell in love with La Carpio.

The experiences I had in Costa Rica are simply way beyond spewing words and posting photos, but I promise to give it my best shot. Right now please enjoy a few of my favorites from a vast collection of photos. This little girl was very special and I was so happy to be able to fit her with (let’s face it), the coolest pair of Chuck Taylors that an eight-year-old of any background would covet. I called her Princesa Mariposa. She is humble and a kind soul. She is a solid representation of the kindness, hope, and beauty radiating from La Carpio’s upcoming generation.

Much more to follow. Much more.

Make two wishes every night; one for you and one for someone else. Tonight I wish for a peaceful sleep, and for Katie Lentile to take just ten tiny minutes to reflect on what she has done for the volunteers.

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7 Days Left, 10,000+ Stickers, 8 Barbies, and Countless Crayolas

Hello Kitty Sticker Nail Art!

Lots of tiny supplies for mini manicures.

Well the day has almost come and I never expected I would be gluing chunky plastic espadrilles to the bottoms of a Barbie doll’s feet in a frenzy. Thanks to all of the donations, support, and material contributions, I will be toting lots of goodies to La Carpio. Now one of my only worries is actually being able to fit everything. I’d love to give a few very special shouts of gratitude to those who went above and beyond, or gave in a special way (not like you all didn’t).

First and foremost, there are simply no words to express how indebted I feel to all who helped keep me on my feet and stay motivated over the past couple of months. The Lyme has taken a huge toll on my body and being. Without such an amazing supportive network of friends and family, new and old, I probably would have given up the hope to even travel to Costa Rica a long time ago. Thank you to my doctors for putting up with my demands for blood tests and a diagnosis, and for writing letters to the embassy in order to ensure my vitamins would cross the borders with me (fingers still crossed on that one). Thank you to all of my friends for understanding that during this debilitating period of my life, I have not been able to readily commit to plans. Each has been so accommodating by setting aside time for me knowing that I may either be late for lunch or not be able to make it to the movie after all. The little things you have all done, from sending texts to bringing tea, have been sunny reminders of the ridiculously selfless, caring friends I am lucky enough to have in my life.

One of the most difficult parts of this disease had been the day-to-day of not knowing how I will feel when (and if) I wake up. The very busy stylist Alexis Robinson of Vain Salon knew something was up when I was a no-show for an appointment the other evening and promptly had a receptionist call to check on me and squeeze me in the next day. The staff of Vain have been wonderful. Many have made personal donations and have certainly been cheerleaders for this trip in many ways.

I cannot express how grateful I am to my co-workers at League Lab and Underdog Sports Leagues who have quickly become family. Not only have they made generous donations and allowed me to shift my schedule in order to accommodate this trip, but they have allowed me the flexibility to work as my illness will allow as opposed to forcing my body to push itself, in essence making myself much sicker. They have been supportive, concerned, and easy to communicate with about how I am feeling. Without the support they have shown for me in the past few months, I honestly don’t know where I would be with all of this now. It’s a rare and wonderful position to have in a work environment and there is not a day that goes by that I take their trust and moral support for granted.

So what is that photo all about? After raising all of the money for the trip, Trenton and I started putting together toys and little gifts for the children to take away from the experience. We will be hauling down a bag of Barbies, lots of nail polish and glitter for mini-manis, about 25 boxes of Crayolas with quite a few coloring books, a bag of Hot Wheels, and about 400+ packages of laboriously assembled sticker packets. Each packet will contain a small bag full of hand-selected stickers attached to mini handmade matchbook-style sticker notepads. Laborious but worth it, for sure! They are looking great.

Special hugs to:

Dan and Maria Carpenter for their thoughtful donation towards materials.

Elizabeth V. and Ms. SJ Munsson who donated nail polishes and Barbies from a beloved personal collection.

Alexis Robinson for her kind donation towards materials.

Kimberly Ferencz, the human sewing machine, who has assembled the matchbook sticker pads, iPad covers, and big hat for my irregularly enormous head to protect me from the sun.

And of course, Trenton Silva, for trading Honolulu sun for Seattle weather to take care of me this past month and become a sticker cutting pro. ❤

Love you all! Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter (at right) to keep tabs of the trip and see your gifts in action. The first 75 to subscribe will receive personalized packages via snail mail upon my return, and one lucky reader will receive a gift pack full of Costa Rican goodies.

To make a donation via PayPal to help defray my personal costs and/or to buy additional goodies for the children, please click this button:

Human Nature will Never Fail to Surprise

PEACE: Sign in Fremont, Seattle, WA

And That's What It's All About

And That’s What It’s All About

Most obvious statement of the decade? The economy sucks.

We have all been affected by it in some way — whether we’ve lost job(s), taken pay cuts, or dealt with the stress of a pink slip hanging over your head as you watched your co-workers clean out their desks one-by-one.

But in the midst of all of our hard financial woes, something still burns inside of each of us. We have witnessed it many times. Easiest and most obvious example to relate to? 9/11. If only for a few hours, we all stood together. And I don’t mean in the patriotic sense. Sure we all heard the anthems, saw the flag until it no longer held meaning, and were saddened every time we lost a friend, brother, or community member who volunteered to ‘fight for freedom’, but the entire world screeched to a halt for a second. Any human with an ounce of a conscience stopped and reflected. Strangers smiled at each other and struck up conversations. Estranged parents and children picked up phones. Some people sat solitary, quietly mourning the atrocity of pure evil that was simply too difficult to even begin to comprehend. But one thing unified us all that day, if even for a brief subconscious moment. We all felt vulnerable, helpless, and inconsolable. We all wanted to do something to help.

9/11 is an extreme example that affected the entire world and changed the course of history, but we all experience things in our lives that have similar effects. We get a phone call. A father has cancer and suddenly we feel guilty for getting angry that we [insert trivial daily life episode here].

During Hurricane Katrina most of us had those same feelings. How could so many lives be lost on American soil? Where was FEMA? Why didn’t the government offer more protection? Our safe American cocoons that took so long to spin again in a post 9/11 society suddenly started to unravel.We slowed down again. Maybe this time we were a bit more numb and used to such large-scale heartbreak. Some gave blood, emptied closets to fill bag after bag of clothes for the victims, while others gave money. Some simply sat and had quiet moments of reflection in honor of the victims, while others swapped vacations in Europe to go to New Orleans and help rebuild. But one thing rang true once again — the majority of us wanted to do something to help.

Wayne Elsey, founder of Soles4Souls, Inc. had these same feelings, first after the tsunami struck Southeast Asia and next when he sat and watched the tragedy of Katrina unfold before his eyes. Although he had helped coordinate about a quarter of a million shoes be delivered to the victims of the tsunami, he felt compelled to keep helping those who faced such sudden tragedy. Through the help of some colleagues and the support of many, Wayne has helped send over a million pairs of shoes to the victims of Katrina. Seeing the impact of the efforts, Wayne started Soles4Souls, Inc. a year later. It has been growing stronger ever since.

When I decided to sign up to travel to Costa Rica with Soles4Souls, I did what I usually do when it comes to matters of the heart. I didn’t think twice. As I actually started to try to raise funds, while juggling my complicated work-fueled life, I became worried. How the hell I would get enough people to hand me money in a time of widespread financial crisis? There were factors working both for and against me. As an Art Director, I worked with teams of brilliant problem solvers at places like Microsoft and Razorfish. I had soaked up enough information about social strategy and using digital media for good. I knew I could apply those skills to help raise awareness and drive donations. I had (and still have) to put in a great deal of my money for things like the initial trip deposit, domestic RT air fare to Miami, as well as lodging, etc. I opened a second savings account early on and made sure I put aside enough weekly to at least cover payment milestones should donations not cut it. I figured I could buy some time at very least.

Then my life rapidly began to change. I went through two layoffs and began dealing with a series of unexplained illnesses. Over the span of three months, I went to 30 medical appointments. My symptoms ranged from debilitating fatigue and intense all-over pain to daily migraines and flu-like symptoms. After being tossed from specialist to specialist and eradicating scary diagnoses one-by-one (MS, lupus, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer again…), my docs finally settled on Fibromyalgia. Although skeptical, I swallowed the diagnosis and began treating the symptoms of this mysterious illness with vitamins, supplements, and a complete overhaul of lifestyle and diet. No more late nights. No more having “a couple of beers” to watch the game. No more dairy. No more gluten. And the worse part? All of my money and energy went to treating this disease so I could continue to live as normal of a life as possible. These changes were a hard pill to swallow for a woman whom, just six months earlier, was at the top of her game in digi-mobile-touch-dev-design media space. Hop a red-eye to Atlanta for a brainstorming session? Right. I was too tired to get up and drive down the street for gas.

This happened over the course of six months or so. I was doing okay, until recently I started feeling unbearably ill. Told it was the flu and I was going through a Fibro flare, I decided to finally listen to my gut and demand a Lyme test. I had acute Lyme once, while living in Massachusetts at the age of 25. My body has never been the same since. I went through shorter episodes of similar symptoms that I am having now. They are all the telltale symptoms of Chronic Lyme Disease, a much more serious disease that most of the medical community refuses to acknowledge as real. More on all this in what is sure to evolve as a new blog, Why did you become a doctor if you don’t want to help people?

My tests have come back positive. I am waiting for next steps, which are almost impossible to get as most doctors will not treat chronic Lyme due to its controversial nature.

So why bring this all up? We all suffer in some way or another. However, through it all, you came through. You not only came through for me, but for a small population of children in Costa Rica who suffer daily in ways unimaginable to any of us. Every time you made a donation, it warmed my heart and gave me the incentives I needed to push on. Amongst the generous donations of my close friends, there were donations from people I have never met, some that I haven’t seen since fourth grade, and some that I haven’t even heard from since high school.

Despite all the hardships we have experienced, you came through. And I cannot begin to explain to you what that means to me. Every time I place a new pair of shoes on the foot of a child, you will all be there in spirit. Know you made a difference. Know that you may have saved a life.

I am humbled and wish peace and good karma to you all.

More to follow soon…

Jamie Lynn Despres

To make a donation via PayPal to help defray my personal costs and/or to purchase additional goodies for the children, please click this button:

The Final Countdown: A few more Dollars and a Double Dollop of Shampoo!

iSafety First

I worked with Kimberly Ferencz, who constructed this conspicuously adorable iPad cover for the trip.

** Update: As of 6:00 on June 24th, the travel fundraising goal of $1750 has been achieved (and even topped; impressive) by the League Lab Crew! Holla at your leagues. More info to follow. Still seeking other donations listed below and will be collecting and purchasing small toys to give to the children as well. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post! THANK YOU RADICAL PEOPLE! ***

          ______________woo________hoo________________________________

Hola!

To all who have made donations, provided words of encouragement, or who have been a positive force in my life at one time or another, I would like to extend a huge THANK YOU. I have less than 2 days to reach my goal of $1750, which leaves only $173! And now for the please part…

If you have not donated yet, please consider doing so today! Your gift is tax-deductible, and no gift is too small. $1 puts one pair of shoes on a child from La Carpio, a sewage ridden slum on the outskirts of San José. Without proper shoes, children can easily catch debilitating diseases. No shoes means no school. No school means no education. Unfortunately, for the children of La Carpio, these factors inevitably lead to dead ends. If he/she lives through adulthood, there is a high chance of becoming a drug dealer, prostitute, and/or victim of violence.

This is TRULY a case of $1 making a difference. You may help me hit my goal of $1750 by viewing my profile where you will find more info about why I am making this journey. I will be updating this blog as regularly as wi-fi allows on the trip, and will be loading it with all sorts of wonderful stories and photos upon my return. All current donors and sponsors appear in the right column. PLEASE if you would like your name to link to a site (FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blog, etc.), let me know! All businesses who make a donation of $30 or more may send along their logo and I will include a direct link to your site. Soles4Souls will be Tweeting my blog posts from their account. That’s a large reach. Be sure to subscribe (sign-up is in right column) to this blog to follow the journey and see the difference YOU helped make.

Can’t make a monetary donation at this time? Please spread the word over the world-wide web’s fancy sharing services.

Want to help in other ways? Because of my recent medical misfortune of the diagnosis of an auto-immune disease, I will be traveling to Costa Rica with a ton of meds/vitamins. To keep things light, I am looking for donations of small trial size samples (foil packets, wipes, small bottles or tubes) of hair, face, body, and other health products. Sephora, Duque Salon of Ballard, and many friends have kindly donated. These samples are easy to transport and throw away but impossible to buy from the shelves. If you have any hanging around, I would appreciate ANY item or brand that you could send my way. Please email me jamielynndespres[at]gmail[dot]com to arrange a drop off/pick up or please mail them directly to my apartment by July 21st. Just shoot me a message if you need my mailing address.

I happily plan on staying involved with Soles4Souls after the trip. In the Ballard hood of Seattle, an event to feature a shoe drive is already on the table.

Thanks so much for your incredible show of support. I am scared, nervous, but very excited. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates! I promise these photos and smiles will warm your heart, as your kindness and generosity have warmed mine.

Once the goal of $1750 is reached, if interested in making a donation to help defray my personal costs for the trip, please either use PayPal (below) or send a check via old-skool mail. This would be of great help, as all domestic travel, immunizations, domestic lodging, and the bevy of special travel items that a Fibro/Lyme patient must have on hand, have started draining the piggy quickly. I am registered as a Sole Proprietor in the state of WA and will gladly send you any documentation you require. You will certainly still be included on my blog, and the inclusion of links and logos is highly encouraged.

To make a donation via PayPal to help defray my personal costs, please click this button:

Muchas gracias!
Jamie Lynn Despres

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