When I first joined the PWB team of photographers in July of 2014, to work with Casa Guatemala in Rio Dulce Guatemala, I was beyond excited and ecstatic (read about it here). Never ever did I think that upon my return, I would be offered a position with the organization that I had only dreamt of. Upon my return, I became the Creative Director for PWB and it has been an amazing experience ever since. It's been stressful, exciting, a learning process while meeting some incredible like-minded people.
Seven months into my director role, Danielle (Founder of PWB), approached me asking if I would be interested in going and helping on another project. At first I didn't believe her, and was fighting the urge to scream with excitement but of course, I said yes (and will always say yes to projects Danielle! ). I soon found out I was headed to Colombia and not alone this time, with another Canadian photographer.
I instantly ran home and did a tonne of research not only on the organization and the country, but to find out who this stranger was I was going to be traveling with, Michael Bednar. From what I had been told, and the creeping I did online, Michael Bednar seemed like a cool dude who had quite the impressive photography portfolio. He had also traveled everywhere I hadn't which made me feel a bit better about traveling to unknown land with him.
Michael (and now myself) had been chosen to go and work with an organization called Mision Gaia (MG) in Minca, Colombia. Mision Gaia is an organization that works with rural communities, local schools, governmental and private organizations in the Minca, Sierra Nevada area. Focused in three areas, our programs help strengthen educational and environmental practices and the responsible development of tourism.
The town of Minca, where MG works, is described as "a small town of five hundred inhabitants (660 meters above sea level), nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and lost among the lush vegetation". From that description, I thought "oh this town sounds so cute and lovely" but when I arrived in Minca, I was even more in love with the town.
After a few skype calls with both the ladies at MG and with Michael, it was time to finally leave for this journey.
Highlights from our project:
- the people - everyone in Minca is so incredibly nice, hospitable, kind and I can't wait to go back and visit some of the friends we made
- seeing the biodiversity of Colombia - not many countries can you be 3000+ metres above sea level and see the snow peaks and cloud forest and as you descend down the mountain, experience the forest, dry forest and then the ocean and all the wildlife along the way
- the view after our hike to Cerro Kennedy
- helping to rescue a stray pup, who had an injured ear with a horrible infection, and helping to clean everything and save his life
Not so highlights:
- losing my baggage for the first 3 days (then returned with a smashed up tripod)
- the hike to Cerro Kennedy (it was SO beautiful, but I was nowhere near the shape I should of been in to do this hike, it was extremely tough for us)
- getting sick - this is bound to happen when you travel anywhere so I powered through
This past Friday July 31st, Photographers Without Borders launched Issue 3, where I was fortunate enough to be the Creative Director and Editor. Michael's photos from our project in Colombia are featured along with 11 other incredible projects.
To preview or order a copy, click here