Presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited Horizontal Wireline services in July, and I was on hand covering the event for the Westmoreland County GOP Events like this re-energize me, and help to remind me why I love photojournalism. Any time the elections come up, supporters get energized. That energy comes to loud applause and cheers durring events like this.

Romney Supporters show their support for local jobs, angry over recent EPA regulations that they consider to be a "War on Coal"

Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney speaks to supporters at Horizontal Wireline Services in Irwin Pa

Today has been a great day. I was able to meet with the Womens Empowerment Center today, as well as the Delegate and directors of Sports and Physical Education, and I will be meeting with them next week to interview them on tape, and get a better understanding of the issues that face youth in Cameroon.

I was going to write a separate blog post, but instead I will share a letter that I wrote to those that I love.

Good morning

I hope you are doing well back at home.

I am well. Do not fear about that. I am busy with the things that seem to take forever while I am here. I didnt start the video series yet, but today I am meeting with the director of the Woman’s Empowerment Center to interview her on tape, and start to understand the issues that west African youth face on a daily basis. We will also be going to the jail, talking to teachers, ministers, and local business men,to understand the wide range of problems and successes that people
experience.

It is so insanely hot here. Nicaragua is hot, and humid, but I sit in the room, eat breakfast, and within minutes I have lost all the water that I have been drinking from the night before. Last night power was out for a few hours, but God is good, right as I was getting in bed,the power came back on and I was able to turn on a fan! I woke up with mosquito bites, but I think that was from the night before because we had a “dance” party with the kids in the compound. It was pretty funny. They were trying to teach me dance steps that I couldn’t do well, most likely even if i practiced for days. As soon as I would figure it out the beat would change and I looked like and epileptic dinosaur stumbling.

Today will be a good day. It has been a quiet time with lots of
reflection, about life, what is important, and I can see so clearly
the places that I want to improve, not just within my own life, but also within my photography. I need to be intentional. Images are only as powerful as the combined elements will allow. Just because I am in Africa, it does not guarantee beautiful images. I need to focus more on being out of my comfort zone, and not hiding behind my camera. This
means meeting people and building relationships so that I can then make images that are more telling. Things like eye contact, take an ok image, that compositionally may be good, and turns it into a portrait that is really telling. It helps you to meet that person even though they are thousands of miles away.

It is so hot here right now. and I think that I have finally stopped sweating. There is nothing left to sweat out. Our meeting is soon, so I must go. I hope that this makes your morning more exciting. I will try and call through magic jack today, so keep your phone near.

I pray that your day is filled with joy and laughter, through the love of our LORD.

Dan

I have been in Cameroon Africa for the past week working with the Cameroon Football Development Program, and I just got internet into the office yesterday.

So here is a quick recap.

we arrived in Cameroon last Sunday evening. After a flight that was way to long, we got on a bus that was WAY to cramped and headed from Douala (the most populated city) to our home for the next two weeks Kumba. Our first week was really just getting situated, opening up our office, starting some meetings, and working towards solidifying the plans for the summer. It also to us a week of continual pushing to get our internet to work for the office. Its not a hard wire system, it is a small stick like you would buy from a wireless retailer, but This Is Africa…

The weekend was spent in the capital city Yaounde. I went to my first professional soccer game, and Cameroon tied with Senegal. This was a qualifier for the African Cup,and since Senegal was ahead of Cameroon in points, they needed a win to still be competitive. People rioted, tear gas was fired, and the stadium was left missing gates that were torn down.

After a long, cramped day of buses back, a breakdown on the side of the road, and waiting for a new bus,  we finally arrived in Kumba to rest for a few hours, shower, and then for me, repeat half of the trip.

I picked Nick up at the airport, and after a long weekend of travel on buses, I was so thankful that both trips were on a bus that had a more traditional seating method. Two by two with an isle in the middle. IT WAS AWESOME! Still cramped, but significantly better than what I had been previously experiencing. For the first time I didnt feel totally suffocated and cramped. I didnt have to gently unfold my legs like I had been folded into an accordion, and wasnt seated next to five or six people on a bench made for three or four.

When we arrived in Douala, we made our way across town to meet up with a friend of ours named Biggie. Biggie works as a security guard, and used to be a bouncer at a club.He would fit in so well with the American night club scene… Dude is a hustler and a father of two beautiful children. We went to his girlfriends house, where his youngest baby lives,and hung out till it was time to shoot over to the airport and pick Nick up, In typical African fashion, we were late, and the odd thing his plane was early.

We made our way back across town and two taxi’s and 1000 FRC (about $2.25) we arrived at the bus park. Again, God was smiling down because we got on the same bus that we had taken into town, and while it is a bit slower, the comfort to me is worth the extra time that it takes.

Dinner was an amazing fish stew over rice, and since the power had gone in the house, we ate with a flashlight illuminating the room. A cold shower and a way to short conversation with you and I went to bed as sweat poured out of my body. A massive rainstorm then came, and cooled the room down to a nice almost comfortable temperature.

Today we worked out in the morning, and had crepes with a chocolate hazelnut spread (similar to nutella) and Im now at the office watching the electrician try and fix the fan switch, while Nick sits in the corner and reads, and Justin and the team are out meeting with a lawyer, and then on to the city council to try and get a permit for this health summit that we would like to produce.

After I finish this, I am heading out to shoot some portraits of people around the office. I want to shoot a video portrait series, in an unconventional way. If it works, awesome, if not it could be a massive failure, Time will tell. I am also going to be shooting photos. which is something that I have not been doing enough of, It is very hard to juggle cameras, and intent.

On the bus home: First day in Cameroon

 

 

Biggie with "little biggie"

Late last night, I arrived safely in Nicaragua with the NWCC team. Dan and Jessenia Bain met us at the Managua airport.

I had planned this on being a longer introduction, but i wasnt saving often enough, and when I went to publish the post, my internet had kicked out and I lost everything. So here are a few photos since I am heading to breakfast. 

LAMP (Learning Assistance and Mentoring Partnerships) is a collaboration among Pittsburgh Public Schools, Family Guidance and area churches including my church Northway Christian Community to serve high-risk, gang-prone youth from middle and elementary schools.

Over the past year, I have been working with program director Bryan McCabe to help tell the story of specific parts of the program. Over the winter I hung out with kids that are in desperate need of mentors (there is a very long waiting list) as they gathered once a week to hang out with Bryan and his family.

This is a long, tedious, on going project, but I hope you enjoy a look into the chaos that ensues. For a little perspective, imaging 25-50 young kids, with 3-4 adults, eating, screaming, playing video games, and shooting nerf darts for a few hours in a small house in Homewood.

 

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