Posts by trips

How Africa Changed Me

November 29th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Trips 0 comments on “How Africa Changed Me”

It’s cliché to say, “My time in Africa changed my life,” but it did. Lest I lose sight of the combined effect, I’ll identify some of my more minor transformations:

My fingernails grew long in Africa! I attribute this to several factors that in America cause me to nibble them in nervousness. I saw a clock just once during my entire stay in Zambia. With my planner back at home and no schedule, deadlines or appointments, there was no reason to fret.

I looked fabulous in Africa! Actually, the only mirror I saw in Zambia larger than a credit card was in the airport on the way home. Without reminders of what was visibly wrong with me, I considered how I felt more than how I looked. Not worrying about my appearance made me less shy in getting to know people. I was home for six days before I looked for my lipstick.

Olivia & I set up, photo by Heidi Dornbusch
Olivia & I set up, photo by Heidi Dornbusch

My social standing soared in Africa! Just Kidding. As a business owner who relies on sales via the Internet, social media is a part of life. Introverted, I relish the superficial, “hands off” connections I make online. The reprieve from technology in Zambia made me remember who I was before social media. I had more time for reflection and devotion, and instead of clicking “like,” I was able to “plug in” to actual conversations with real people. Relationships matter more-yes, even Facebook friends matter more after my time in Zambia.

 Giraffe class w/ Highland Creative Arts Students- photo by Gill Zulu
Giraffe class w/ Highland Creative Arts Students- photo by Gill Zulu

I gave up control in Africa! As a painting instructor, I’m particular about set-up and clean up, washing and carefully reshaping over 100 paintbrushes after classes. But teaching acrylics outdoors in 105-degree Zambia taught me to loosen up my rigid expectations. We made do without tables or paper towels, and out of necessity, our group members devised water cups from soda bottles, smartly affixing them to easels with yarn. I let go of needing to clean sun-baked paint off the handles of brushes, as appearances didn’t matter. Teaching was about connecting and expressing ourselves through paint more than it was about our materials, set-up or clean up.

I lightened my load of “stuff” in Africa! Actually, I was burdened with a huge bag every time we left the base- it stretched to my knees with everything I might need and many things I never would. I was always misplacing items because they were lost in the giant bag. I HAD A DREAM that I emptied my backpack at the airport and it was filled with identical water bottles, most only partially filled. The Point: I was weighed down with stuff that: 1.) I couldn’t take with me; 2.) I didn’t need more than one of; 3.) would be furnished when the need arose. Africa makes me rethink the relevance of all the “stuff” in my life.

You must be thinking that life is simpler in Africa. NOT SO. The people of Zambia endure much, and I’m not talking about load shedding or lack of hot water, or even running water. More often than not, peoples’ stories leave you heartsick. Because of AIDS, almost half of the population in Zambia is younger than age 14 and many are orphans. And yet these Zambians have a faith and fortitude, a desire for change and a commitment for others that inspires me and shames my petty concerns…paintbrushes?

Photo by Emily Eggebratten
Photo by Emily Eggebratten

Life in Zambia is not simpler, but it’s prioritized more towards faith and relationships than to schedules, appearances, and things. Our friends at Elijah Mission International Zambia (EMIZ) & Poetice International empower people in their communities to learn a skill, earn a living, support their families, and inspire others to do the same. They confront injustice. Here, in the “Land of the Free,” I’m advised against writing about my faith as it could turn off art collectors, but in Zambia, the government welcomes churches into schools to teach kids about faith-based abstinence in the face of the AIDS pandemic. This is life and death, and Life.

I left a piece of my heart, and brought back some of that beautiful Zambian spirit. I appreciate my blessings more and will more readily identify and respond to need. My goal is to remember all the little ways that Africa changed me, and to remain changed in a world so different.

Shebo, Edward, Alina, Bill, Steady & me at the conclusion of the mural project in the new arts academy's music room.
Shebo, Edward, Alina, Bill, Steady & me at the conclusion of the mural project in the new arts academy’s music room.
SonjaCaywood_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sonja Caywood is an artist living in Dayton, Wyoming.

This story has been re-posted from an outside website. See Sonja’s original post here.

Zambia – Africa

April 9th, 2015 Posted by Immersion Trips 0 comments on “Zambia – Africa”

I would like to start off this entry with a little bit about what this unforgettable trip was about, and why on earth it took me 4 months too long to share it.

In short, our goal as a team was simply this: to establish relationships with those in the community and open up the doors for Poetice International, the organization we partnered with, to help make a difference in the lives of those people. To explain more than that would probably take a novel and I would definitely do so terribly so I won’t even try. Instead, I strongly encourage you to take 9 minutes out of your day and watch this video made by Ryan Humm about what is going on in Livingstone, Zambia.

One of the reasons it took me so long to blog this experience was simply because I always put my clients needs ahead of my own and put my personal work last… oh, and I suppose I would be lying if I said I didn’t procrastinate personal projects like nobodies business. Cough cough. 🙂 But to be perfectly honest, until just recently I had a lot of mixed feelings about the images I had taken and I wasn’t sure I wanted to share many of these images publicly. There was a large part of me that feared that by taking and sharing these images I would become another person attempting to exploit the Zambian people, even if that truly wasn’t my personal motive. However, after much contemplation, I finally came to the decision that I would share these images. I realized that keeping these images hidden on my hard drive and doing nothing with them would never serve any purpose or help any of the people that we set out to serve to begin with. Even if there was a small chance that 1 person’s attention was grabbed because of these images and inversely 1 child could be helped because of it, then it would make all the difference.

So with that said, I hope that you enjoy these images and would consider partnering with Poetice International just as my wife and I did. Whether that means making a one-time donation or taking two short weeks out of your life to go to Zambia for yourself.

Thanks, for listening.

(One last thing. About halfway through you’ll see some photos of an amazing looking hotel. To answer your question… no, we did not stay at this luxury hotel as nice as it would have been. We only stopped to watch the sunset along the river one night and it just so happened to have zebras and giraffes walking around. No big deal. 😉 In fact, many of us were lucky if we even got a shower each day. Most of the time we took buckets – a.k.a. we used our hands to scoop water onto our heads. #getbuckets Just a small part that makes for an unforgettable experience that I intend on doing all over again as soon as I’m able.)


MichaelLiedtke_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michael Liedtke is a portrait & wedding photographer from Sioux Falls, SD.

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This story has been re-posted from an outside website. See Michael’s original post here.

Road from Choma, Lusaka Camp

September 3rd, 2013 Posted by Immersion Trips 0 comments on “Road from Choma, Lusaka Camp”

The last few days were more challenging. We had a long trip from Choma back to Lusaka, where we joined a team from NY and participated in another camp. I was very ready to go home at this point, and since it wasn’t really “our” camp, we felt that we didn’t have much to do. However, it was on the last day that I had one of the more significant experiences from the trip. After lunch, during a time where all I really wanted was to be along, I decided to sit next to a girl who was sitting by herself. After only talking for a few minutes, she told me that her father had left her family and they had no money. She went off to find work and was raped in the process. Her mother blames her for the rape. It’s a common story in that part of the world, but I was suddenly looking into the face of it. I didn’t really know what to tell her at first, except over and over again that it wasn’t her fault, and no, she wasn’t ruined. My attitude suddenly took a turn at that point. Was it worth it to travel across the world to tell this young girl that it wasn’t her fault she was raped? Yes, even if for no other reason than for that.

RachelDurik_author-150x150 ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Durik is a photographer located in Naples, FL.

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