Georgia on my Mind

This relatively tiny slice of the Caucasus is one of my favorite corners of the world, and I relish any opportunity to come here. From the ancient castles, churches, rich culture and heritage to the stunning architecture and wonderfully unique wine and food (all at affordable prices) there’s really nothing not to love about Georgia, aside from the fact that its greedy northern neighbor keeps carving out slices of the country’s sovereign territory. I thought about not making this post so I could keep more of this place to myself. BTW I brought my drone. Below is an aerial view of the Ujarma fortress, circa 1100, followed by the Jvari church, circa 600. Other shots are from Tbilisi, Gori, and the Davit Gareja Monastery on the border with Azerbaijan.

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Open Sesame

  It’s one thing to increase the crop yields of vulnerable, smallholder farmers in a climate-challenged corner of the world. Lots of organizations are working – and bearing fruit – in this capacity. It’s another thing entirely to transform these smallholder farmers into major agricultural producers, connect them with buyers, and strengthen the value chain of a commodity for an entire region. In my most recent assignment with Lutheran World Relief, I was commissioned to take a brief look at the SESAME project, a US Department of Agriculture-funded initiative that works not only to increase the quality and volume of sesame farmers in Burkina Faso, but also to strengthen the cooperative system in sesame growing regions of the county. By working in cooperatives, everyday farmers can negotiate higher prices, streamline quality, access inputs and enhance overall market conditions, all of which create a sustainable, private-sector led framework for the sale[…]

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Saving Grace

  At the age of thirteen, Grace’s parents fell on hard times. The bride price paid by an older man in the village was incentive for them to withdraw her from school and marry her off. This video is part of a series I recently shot and produced for ChildFund documenting the organization’s work to prevent early marriage in Zambia.

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Habbanaye: Goat Whispering in the Sahel

    Every day the Sahara Desert gets a little bit bigger. Millimeter by millimeter, the desert encroaches on the people of the Sahel, the biogeographic zone in west and central Africa that transitions between the vast desert to the north and the fertile savannah to the south. For most people who find their homes here, living off the land becomes all the more difficult year after year. In an earlier post I talked about ways that farmers are rejuvenating their land through Lutheran World Relief’s CORE II project (Community-Led Food Crisis Recovery in the Sahel). This is a necessary undertaking to boost agricultural productivity, but is also one that takes time. In addition to maintaining fertile fields, survival in this climate-volatile region also depends on one’s ability to diversify income. Cue the goats! Livestock production can be a lucrative and sustainable income for poor farmers. Goats in particular are[…]

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Escaping Child Marriage in Kenya

I’m always astonished at the enthusiasm that exists for education among students in the developing world, especially when compared to my native USA.  I was reminded of this during a recent assignment in Kenya, where I spent a day at the Sapashe girls’ dormitory at a remote primary school in Samburu County. The dorm, one of many constructed by ChildFund in sub-Sahran Africa, provides a safe place for school-age girls to live on campus while they focus on their education.   Girls face a number of challenges in rural Kenya including FGM, child marriage, and, more often, the hurdle that when at home they’re expected to perform domestic chores like fetching water and herding livestock, rather than to concentrate on academics. The ability to live on campus helps bypass many of these obstacles. In the above video piece I present the story of Rehema, a resident of the Sapashe dorm, who[…]

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Reclaiming the Land

Many people in the developing world have no choice but to make a living as subsistence farmers in extremely adverse conditions. In the West African Sahel, desertification threatens the food security and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers. Lutheran World Relief’s agricultural projects help these farmers to rejuvenate their land and mitigate drought through the use of water harvesting and organic farming techniques. Vast swaths of barren land have been brought back to life through these interventions. This is a bold claim, but my drone helps to prove it!

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Door to Door Vets in Niger

  Healthy livestock can mean make-or-break for those who rely on them for their livelihoods in the developing world. In addition to distributing livestock to vulnerable women in Niger, LWR ensures that these income-boosting assets remain healthy and productive for years to come. They do this by training para-veterinarians who make house calls throughout the communities where the project is implemented. In the video story above, Boubacar is one such vet who allows us to accompany him on his rounds for the day.

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We Have Rights

Children don’t usually get the chance to tell their elected leaders what’s on their mind, especially in the developing world. These bright young ones from Kampala, Uganda, however, were selected by a child rights consortium to appear before their parliament to discuss how violence in their community affects them. Following their appearance, I was able to sit down with them personally so they could share their message with the rest of the world.

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Independent Refugees

Lutheran World Relief’s breakthrough agriculture project in Uganda’s Palabek Refugee Settlement allows refugees to reduce, if not eliminate, their reliance on food aid. Improved seeds coupled with agricultural trainings lead to a diversified diet and income generation opportunities brought on by the sale of surplus crops.

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Impact of Violence on Children in Honduras

Many of Honduras’ children miss out on childhood as a result of the spiraling violence that has become a way of life in the Central American nation. I shot this video as an advocacy tool for ChildFund in its efforts to inform decision makers in Washington and across the world of the sometimes unfathomable dangers children face each day.

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