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Africa: Sinazongwe to Kanchomba

(you can see all my blogs about Africa by clicking here)

Since I’ve been back, people ask me all kinds of questions about Africa. The most obvious one is “How was it?”

It’s tough to answer. It was good. It was also hard. I missed my family something fierce. I also saw some of the most incredible things. I met the most incredible people. I saw some really hard things. An 11 year old boy carrying around his baby sister, who was covered in filth. Kids walking around barefoot everywhere. A guy at a market wanted to sell me stuff in exchange for my socks.

I honestly don’t know how to answer it yet. The question is too broad.

What I do know though is something I mentioned above. I’ve never met such extraordinary people who just want to help others. Some of the people who we traveled with around Zambia had come out of their OWN POCKET over $6,000 just to be able to go and help others. I can’t imagine! I couldn’t do that. But they can. They are made to do this. God gave them hearts to help people joyfully and without agenda. From the team of people from outside Africa to all the amazing World Vision people that we met there…wow, I was just blown away.

Today’s post encompasses one last visit to the Makonkoto school before we left to head to Twachiyanda. On the way we stopped at a clinic in Kanchomba to learn about the stuff they are dealing with. Which is bad. So awful.

Austin wanted one last chance to just hang with the kids, so we stopped by and had a blast!

This first picture is again outside my front porch at the Lakeview Lodge. I really was fond of that place. So peaceful and beautiful. Other than the spiders.

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Fred from the World Vision ADP in Sinazongwe gave us gifts before we departed.

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I got this RAD little zebra plate!

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Malaria pills. Eww.

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Before heading to the school we stopped at a health clinic that Austin and Hoops of Hope helped build. The caretakers there are amazing.

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I don’t know if I mentioned it before, but I love this kid Austin.

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Another of my favorite images from the trip.

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This kid on the right is supposedly named Sam…he’s all personality. I wish I had gotten to hang with him a bit more.

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See, there’s Sam again in the red shirt. Sooooo happy. All of them were really.

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Here’s a quick video of us entering that classroom…it was pretty amazing!

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Can’t even tell you how much I love these photos of the kids from these classroom windows as we left.

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The girl on the left sticking her butt out was SO VERY PROUD of that haha. I showed her the photo and she laughed hysterically 🙂

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On to Kanchomba.

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At a stop to grab some food for a visit we were making, I spotted this kid hanging by himself. I hesitated to snap a photo because I don’t like being someone who just exploits people for the sake of a photograph, but I eventually took it anyways. It’s one of my favorites from the trip.

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Meeting the ADP head for Kanchomba.

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This used to be the medical clinic in which this region did a lot of work. The roof is gone now, there are holes in the walls and it’s unusable.

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The building behind this is still okay, so that’s where most of the care is being done.

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The medical staff explains how bad things are. No vehicles to transport patients who need desperate help to other hospitals. No electricity. Not much help. And a bad water supply nearby.

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This is where on average 25 women give birth every month.

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This woman delivers babies and does the best she can, but she’s actually not even qualified to do most of what she does. She has no help. She also has an amazing heart.

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One of the hardest parts of the trip was a visit to this house. They lost their son a few years ago and we were bringing them food to help out and also to hear their story.

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This man and wife had a little boy who was only a few years old. Their water supply is a nearby pond which animals also use to drink and to go to the bathroom. Their son got a case of diarrhea and was dead in three days. If they would have had a proper medical clinic or even a vehicle to get him help, he probably would have lived. It was just diarrhea. Such a sad story, I can’t even imagine.

When they were done telling the story…Austin asked if he could pray for them. He went over to sit by the man and put his hand on him. It was incredibly moving. I tried to capture it best I could. Everyone was in tears.

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And in the midst of all that sadness and hurt, I spotted this little girl and was almost knocked over by her cuteness.

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Oh my.

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Africa: Sinazongwe Part 2

(you can see all my blogs about Africa by clicking here)

The first evening in Sinazongwe was amazing, but it was nothing compared to the first day at the Makonkoto school. In recent years the student attendance has gone from 500 kids to over 700. And a lot of that is due to the to work these organizations do there. Especially when they added computer lab.

We stopped by the World Vision ADP offices first thing in the morning and met Fred plus his team of amazing people. We had a brief devotion and hymn singing, which was absolutely awesome. I have to say, the singing voices of these Zambian people was mesmerizing.

The goal of the school visit was to talk to the teachers, learn what they are dealing with, their struggles, how the computer lab was doing, and also to install some solar lights that we brought along. Later in the day Austin was to meet the Chief of Sinazongwe, but he ended up being in Lusaka. We also visited a clinic that Hoops of Hope helped build plus a new machine that tests for AIDS/HIV.

I have comments below talking about the photos…and sorry, this was all one single day and there are A LOT of images. I couldn’t not show them all. And these aren’t even all of them.

Hope you enjoy. If you missed my first blog post on Africa, you can see it here.

The first few images are from the Lakeview Lodge early in the morning. I can’t believe this view was 20 feet from my cabin. It didn’t feel like we were roughing it AT ALL.

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I like this picture of Austin. I’m sure he was just waking up or zoned out cause it was the morning, but it’s also something to be a kid like him and do so much for people…inspiring them, talking to them…always being “on”…it’s gotta be hard. I love this kid.

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That is Fred giving the big hug…such a good guy. He bought us all little gifts that he gave us the next day.

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That is Austin in the right newspaper article from when he was 13 and first visited Africa. Amazing.

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Our first moments at Makonkoto school.

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Love these kids.

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They flocked once they saw me taking pictures. I got Austin to jump into the frame.

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This choir group was singing for us when we walked towards the computer lab. Blew my mind.

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This is the School Head talking to us and the teachers. We had a lot of meetings and did lots of introductions over the course of our time in Zambia.

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These are the awesome laptops that these kids get to use. In the middle of nowhere.

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I friggin’ love this photo haha!

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This boy showed us how he could type his name on the computer. Amazing.

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Austin visiting some classrooms.

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One of our travel companions, Kelly Sim, was talking to these girls…I love their reaction to whatever she’s saying. Sooooo much joy on their faces.

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This girl really wanted a photo and when I held up the camera, she put her hand on her chin cause she thought it was some model pose. I love it!

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Kids were always wanting to follow or chase us in the car.

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Here we are visiting a medical clinic where they can now test for HIV. This was donated by Hoops of Hope. Was amazing to hear the stories by the medical staff.

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This machine tests for AIDS/HIV and cost nearly $75,000. All donated by Hoops of Hope. Because they have this simple machine, the cases of HIV have gone down and the people who have it are being treated. Unbelievable.

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As I said before, Austin was supposed to meet the Chief of Sinazongwe, but he got busy at the last minute. One of this aids though was so amazingly kind to everyone and especially to Austin…at one point he just said, “I have to give you a hug.” and up he jumped to grab Austin. Was a cool moment.

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Hey that’s me! Thanks Dan for taking a photo. I love these trees!

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We pulled over at little village to wait for other people, and so Austin, Denise and I jumped out to hang with some local kids.

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Denise always packs some bubbles and the kids love ’em.

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This dude…was trouble. He made fun of my shoes and my glasses! I love him though.

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OMG.

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We had some time to spare so we went BACK to the school to hang with the kids. Dan pulled out a soccer ball and it was chaos. So much fun.

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Everybody running after the ball.

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We organized a line to hang out lollypops.

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This beautiful girl is an albino and was sponsored by Sisley, one of the team from Intel. It was awesome to see this little girl later surrounded by friends from the school…you could tell they love and protect her. Bad things can happen to albino children out in the bush by old “witch doctor” practices.

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The kids gathered for a quick talk from Austin.

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This girl kept looking back at me and I finally caught a shot of her. I think she knew what she was doing 🙂

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A giant Austin amidst all the Zambian children.

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Ummmmm…this little girl in the yellow shirt spoke perfect English and was the cutest thing I’d ever seen…except for that little beauty sitting next to her!

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Everytime I pulled out my camera I ended up with a ton of kids running up, so it was nice here at the end of the day that only a few remained. I grabbed them to do some individual portraits and wow, these are some of my favorite images. The light was beautiful, the kids even moreso.

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This last one is a shot that I didn’t even mean to take. And that’s probably why I love it so much. It’s not in focus, and I didn’t know the kid was there. I just wanted the sun against that tree. I took it from a bouncy truck.

I can’t explain why I get moved by this shot but I do. A kid waving at me, holding a homemade soccer ball with a beautiful setting African sun behind him. It was kind of the entire trip wrapped up in a single photograph.

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Africa: Sinazongwe Part 1

(you can see all my blogs about Africa by clicking here)

This past July 11th – 21st I went on a trip to Zambia, Africa, to follow along with a few charity organizations and document their work via photograph. It was incredible.

Trying to do a dump of photos, information and highlights from the trip is a daunting task, so I’ll be breaking this up into a few parts.

I was traveling mainly with the fantastic people from Hoops of Hope. Austin Gutwein started the charity when he was only nine years old and now he’s 19! His parents Daniel and Denise run the organization and were also on the trip…plus they were ones who invited me on this adventure. I took Austin’s senior pictures last year and also their family photos in December. This family is beyond amazing…there are no words to describe Austin’s heart for kids in Africa, nor what his parents have done to help their son see his vision. Being with them for 10 days humbled me.

So Hoops of Hope works together with World Vision. The people from World Vision were unbelievable. They organized everything. Transportation. They drove. They had bottled water. The booked hotels. They arranged meals. They were kind souls and beautiful individuals.

Finally there were three people from Intel doing work with computers for these schools in the middle of nowhere. They performed miracles. I will talk more about the specifics of the work done, what everyone did, the cool things I saw and all that as these blog posts go on.

Our trip started in Phoenix. We landed in Atlanta, then Johannesburg and then finally Lusaka, Zambia. We spent two days in Lusaka and left Sunday morning for Sinazongwe. That’s when the real stuff happened.

I added comments to the photos below to help tell the story. Hope you enjoy. Also for those that want to know, I edited all these using a tweaked preset from VSCO Film 3.

This first one is just me in the back of our LandCruiser after 30 hours of traveling.

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My first view of Lusaka the morning after we arrived.

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We went to buy printers for the schools at a nearby mall and I saw this.

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Selfie in the Stay Easy Hotel’s elevator. Felt like it was a dance party.

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Austin was brave enough to order a deep-fried burger. Crazy.

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Our team on Sunday morning getting ready to leave.

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The man himself…Austin.

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It’s amazing…because at this time I knew a few of these people, but had only met most of them earlier the day before. By the end of the trip it felt like we were all old friends.

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Women of Zambia selling fruits and produce on the sides of roads.

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We stopped for a little bathroom break.

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My first interaction with Zambian children…they love seeing themselves on the back of your camera.

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Someone noticed this boy carrying a bird in his hand.

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Later we stopped for lunch and these cuties were just hanging out in a truck waiting for their parents I think.

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Their smiles are just ridiculous.

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We stayed at a lodge on Lake Kariba…it was incredibly beautiful. I figured we would be roughing it but this was like a dream destination.

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A boabob or bow-bow tree…I friggin’ LOVE these things!

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I took a walk with Sisley and JP…just to see the main town area of Sinazongwe. We were spotted by some kids and soon had a tiny entourage.

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Kids always love JP…he works for Intel and has the most incredible stories.

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A market in town.

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A little pond past town that we checked out for sunset. We kept away (for the most part) from the water’s edge because of crocs, but mostly the mosquitos and chances of getting malaria. It was beautiful.

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Yup, tried to get the kids to jump in unison…didn’t work out too well.

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JP showing the kids pictures of them on his camera.

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Smiles…just amazing.

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This is one of my favorite images from my trip. Took two tries and this second attempt was amazing.

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That is Sisley and she also works for Intel. I think the kids here may have wanted some of her bracelets 🙂

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