As I mentioned in a previous post, I was given the amazing opportunity to join Photographers Without Borders (PWB) last month on a photodocumentary workshop in Nicaragua, acting as both a customer service rep for the organization and an assistant to the workshop instructor. Before I was given this opportunity, I had honestly never even heard of Nicaragua and I had no idea as to what region of the world it was in.
Nicaragua is a the largest country in Central America, situated between Costa Rica and Honduras. It is known for its dramatic terrain of lakes, volcanos and beaches. As someone who has never visited Central America and only knew what I knew based on what I’ve seen on TV and online, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. This was a blessing in a way, because it provided me with a completely blank canvas to fill with new experiences and memories.
Once we started landing in Managua, one thing that caught my eye right away were these huge colourful trees lining a road that appeared to be one of the main roads, and a cluster of them by the shore of Lake Nicaragua.
Surrounding these trees was a city that looked so impoverished, with tin roofed shacks cluttered together. We later learned that this was a huge controversy in the country because each of those trees cost $40,000 USD to make, and are extremely environmentally unfriendly (powered by electric lights that turn on at night). The rest of the city is suffering from poverty, lack of proper education and lack of proper access to electricity, so people are very confused and angry as to why the money is being put into these trees, that honestly don’t even look that nice, instead of being used to help the community in some way. Ironically, these trees are known as ‘The Tree of Life.”
Our trip to Nicaragua lasted a total of 12 days. Each day was filled with experiences and adventures, and photography workshops. Our team consisted of Jeffrey, the incredible workshop instructor, Suyen, the most amazing G Adventures Guide a group could ask for, Jessie, Christine and I, who were PWB staff members sent by the organization, and Isabelle, Mattie, Paul and Stephanie, four wonderful workshop participants. By the end of the trip, we became a little family!
My favourite aspect of this trip was that although I was there as a staff member required to work, I was still able to participate in the workshops and improve my photodocumentary and storytelling skills, which was something I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time. Coming out of this trip, I feel that in addition to the amazing memories and experiences, I’ve also become a better photographer, and I owe a lot of that to Jeffrey and the rest of the team. We were all at different levels in terms of our expertise in photography, but regardless of where we were at, each of us had something to offer to the group. We learned so much just by talking to each other and discussing each other’s images. If you are thinking about learning photography, improving your photography skills, or even just travelling for a good cause, I highly recommend checking out the workshops offered by Photographers Without Borders.
Because every day was so jam packed, there is no way I can make a single blog post about the entire trip! So I’ve split it up into a blog post for each day, and additional blog posts dedicated to each of the amazing NGO’s that we were fortunate to visit. As I publish these posts I’ll add the link to the list at end of this blog so that it’s all in one place and easy to access. So make sure you bookmark this page if you want to follow along! 🙂