Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer. She has appeared on both local and national television shows and other media including CNN.com and The Oprah Winfrey Show. Karen is the author of Chookooloonks, an
award-winning photoblog. She traveled to Ethiopia with ONE in October. This piece, originally published on Babble, is part of ONE's coverage of the trip.
It's been a long time, hasn't it? Too long, I'll wager. When last we spoke, I was waxing poetic about why I love intern
ational travel, right before leaving for an epic journey to Ethiopia at the invitation and expense of The One Campaign. Since then, I've had a full course of malaria medicine, dealt with a massive bout of jet lag and had a fabulous adventure. It was, of course, amazing.
1. The language of children's laughter is universal.
difficult to communicate.
But one language that felt universal? Listening to the children giggle and laugh and play. Closing my eyes to listen to them, I could have been anywhere: Ethiopia, my homeland of Trinidad, or even here in Houston, where I'm writing this now. There is just something about kids' laugh
ter, man. It might be the very best sound in the world.
2. Holy places stir the soul, whether or not you practice a religion.
t very humbled and small as I toured the building.
Also? There's nothing like waking in the very early morning to the sound of call to prayer being sung in the distance. It feels like a celestial reminder that everything's gonna be all right.
3. Sometimes the everyday should be elevated to ceremony.
This is such a contrast to how coffee is viewed in the United States, where it's something that is "grabbed" on the way out of the door, many folks drink "instant" coffee and coffee places even have drive-thrus! Coffee, though also everywhere here, is something to be rushed. I loved how this everyday thing in Ethiopia was a reason to slow down and connect.
I hope to include more like this ritual in my life, as well.
4. Kids love seeing photographs of themselves.
God bless the digital camera: Even when we didn't share the same language, sharing a photograph was an instant connector. And I couldn't help but notice how delighted the children were to see themselves on the screens in the backs of our cameras -- every time, they would dissolve in delighted giggles! Such a refreshing change from photographing adults here at home, where invariably the response is "Oh, I look horrible."
As a photographer, I know it's always so encouraging to hear that someone enjoyed the photograph I took of her -- but there's an even more important lesson to be learned here. It was so lovely to watch these kids delight in the capturing of the moment, as opposed to being focused on their physicality. After all, the entire purpose of photography is to capture a moment in time, in our lives -- and in my opinion, life moments should always be celebrated.
5. There is very little more joyful than dance.
And dance, we all certainly did.
It's good to be back, friends. And tell me -- what life lessons has travel taught you? I'd love if you'd share in the comments!
I spent a week in Ethiopia at the kind invitation and expense of The ONE Campaign, a nonpartisan, advocacy organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. ONE works to convince governments to invest in smart programs that help eliminate poverty and preventable disease in a sustainable way. I was supporting a group of parenting bloggers by capturing images that tell the story of how the organizations for which ONE advocates are effecting real change in Ethiopia.
If you're moved by anything you read or see here, on the ONE blog or any of the ONEMoms' blogs and you'd like to help, please consider adding your voice, and join ONE by simply filling out the surprisingly short form in my sidebar on the right, or the form below. Your information will remain confidential, I promise. And if you're already a member, and would still like to help, I'd love if you'd spread the word by sharing this post with your friends and followers.
That's all there is to it. Because ONE never asks for your money, just your voice.