Journey of a lifetime.

... the adventure begins

I have just begun what will undoubtedly the greatest journey of my life.

Since I was a kid I have dreamed of traveling around the world, and as a teen and adult I've made my way to many amazing places. After 12 years of working toward it, the time has come.

In a few short hours I will be in Managua, headed for El Sauce, Nicaragua, to build a school with farmers in Las Minitas, that our Friends Project is making possible.

I'll be two and a half months there, continuing to chronicle residents' efforts to rebuild, and I will be again inspired by their spirits.

From there, it is off to Panama, Ecuador and then to Africa and Australia, for the dream of all dreams of mine:

Since I was a kid I also dreamed of living with tribes with disappearing cultures and languages, and photographing their way of life before it is gone.

So I am.

Thanks to a roller derby friend, who is a linguist (yo Natalie!), I connected with linguists who are working with groups with rapidly changing or disappearing languages and offered my services as a photographer and writer.

Go for broke.

Serendipity and fate have brought me to two invitations that amaze me even as I write about them now and get my heart a fluttering.

I will serve as a photographer and writer for a team of linguists working with the Luhya people in western Kenya, whose culture and language is changing.

In the western Goldfields of Australia, I will be working with three Aboriginal "mobs," all with critically endangered languages. These languages, which have been around for thousands of years, will be dead in our lifetime.

Kuwarra has one speaker left. Ngalia? Three. This blows my mind. They want their stories told and their efforts to revive the Ngalia language; I am beyond honored to be a part of this.

I will immerse myself in daily life and photograph elders, leaders, storytellers, craftsmen and others ... My work will help provide an intimate snapshot of the residents that has not been done before— who they are, their beliefs, what's important to them, and their traditions and preservation efforts.

In Australia, I have also been invited to participate in sacred ritual walks with the mobs.

Why me? Serendipity again. I lived with colonists in the rainforest when I was 21, who had an infestation of mosquitoes on their land and were protesting for help. I found my calling there, realizing I could be a voice for stories that might otherwise go unheard.

I feel this is what I was born to do; when I invited myself, the people who I am supposed to be paired with? Heard me.

I will be gone 12 months, traveling around this world, to Africa and Australia and beyond, and along the way, I will continue my own Friends Project do-it-yourself change, and meet alot of fascinating people.

I will be finding others who are making a difference in their own communities and sharing their stories on my blog.

When I think of the underlying factors of all this, it really is the power of everyday people to make a difference. Me. The Friends Project. The linguists. The community members in Kenya and Austalia who took out a pen and made their own homemade dictionaries to preserve their language. Mauricio, who donated his own land to the eco-tourism cooperative in El Sauce ...

People are out there, making a difference, every day, in cities, villages and way off the beaten path.

We just hear a fraction of them. Here, in addition to experiences such a journey brings, we will share them here.

We are making our own good news.

And remember to follow The Friends Project blog to read all about the school.

Now let's see where this journey takes us.