Expectations are a powerful thing – and will mostly set you up for disappointment. Being a German perfectionist has certainly equipped me with an unhealthy dose of “trying to control the world around me.” Now, given the fact that I have traveled and worked with Artists for World Peace two years ago, one would think I should’ve learned my lesson. But memories fade quickly.
So let me humor you a little and show you what my crazy photographer mind dreamt up in anticipation of our roughly 2.5 weeks in Tanzania:
Expectation: I would shoot an amazing documentary about AFWP’s work in Kibosho while simultaneously capturing award-winning still images.
Reality check: It is downright crazy to think you can shoot a true documentary in a little over 2 weeks with NO budget and NO crew (with the exception of our amazing producer/editor Cathy Jackman and recorder-of-sound Miles Nasta). It is also not humanly possible to give equal focus to stills and moving images…so I had to make peace with the fact that this trip would be mostly about videography for me. I’d like to thank Cynthia Rockwell, our writer and passionate aspiring photographer on the team for stepping up on so many occasions to photograph whatever I didn’t have the time to !
Expectation: I would have plenty of time to reconnect with the locals and play with the children at Good Hope orphanage.
Reality check: Downtime was very rare and it was somewhat of a challenge to stay focused on filming when you really just want to put the camera down and spend some quality time with the kids.
Expectation: I would get plenty of sleep, eat well plus of course stay healthy and strong like a bull.
Reality check: What sleep ? We got up early 90% of the time, stayed up late to back up and review the footage we shot each day. Despite my crazy vitamin regimen, I and almost everyone on the team got sick at some point of the trip. Lessons learned for me: There is a reason why you should take your full course of antibiotics, you CAN live on rice alone and raw garlic is my new secret weapon.
Why am I telling you all this ? I’m not sure, probably to give you an honest peek at what it means to work in a third world country. The one thing I know more than anything – it was so worth it !
It is a truly gratifying experience to work your behind off, pro bono, under less-than-ideal conditions. Despite certain challenges the “documentary team” worked together beautifully and we were able to capture very important footage and photos for the foundation.
The woman who inspired each and every one on our team to give it their all is AFWP’s founder Wendy Black-Nasta. To know her means to want to be involved. At least for me. She has dedicated her life to changing lives around the world, one child at a time. Wendy has taken me on quite a ride since I met her a few years ago…she’s become my “crazy” Jewish mom, my mentor, my biggest fan, my spiritual guide, my best buddy to have hilarious sleepy-drunk conversations with and so much more !
I’m more than honored to be part of her family at AFWP and will always be grateful to her for introducing me to my “second home” in Tanzania. The people of Kibosho continue to have a deep impact on my life and I feel very much at peace when I am there. It is very humbling to witness a community with a lack of need for consumption and “first world problems.” There is an obvious presence of contentment and pure joy of life in the village that makes you question your oh-so-different lifestyle in a city like New York.
Maybe it is the “Hakuna Matata” philosophy and the slow pace we like to call “African time” that I am drawn to – maybe despite or simply because it is so utterly different from my upbringing in Germany.
This trip has pushed my boundaries on many levels – I have grown as a photographer, videographer and person. I have learned to let go of perfectionism and controlling the uncontrollable. Thank you to the rest of the team for helping me get out of my comfort zone and think outside the box sometimes. This year’s team of 11 volunteers has turned out to be an incredibly complementary mix of individuals all pushing together to change the world a tiny bit, bringing their unique skills and talents to the table. We laughed, we cried, had meltdowns, got drunk on life and South African wine and had way too much ginger tea…
I cannot wait to do it all over again.
I hope you enjoyed my story and images…I will continue to add more images on my website and facebook page later on this fall. The footage I shot is now in the caring hands of our editor Cathy Jackman who I am sure will work her magic over the next couple of months, putting it all together.
Asante sana – thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog…