This past Thanksgiving, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Uganda with some dear friends of mine. It was my first time going out of the country. I’ve dreamt of going to Africa for a long time, but I never expected to actually go. I read a book when I was in middle school about changing the world, and I was especially drawn to the piece on building water wells in Africa. I remember thinking it cost so little to build a well that would provide water for so many people who are walking miles and miles for a contaminated bucket of water. I didn’t go to Africa to build water wells, but I happened upon an opportunity to go and offer what I do best. Love. Most of you have already heard about the trip, but here’s a refresher:
We were only gone for two weeks, but settling back into a normal lifestyle was really tough for me. Being in a third world country, experiencing extreme poverty and sick babies made everything that I cared about back at home seem trivial. My nine-to-five that I love so dearly seemed absurd, and Christmastime seemed like a blur of glutinous overindulgences and forced social endeavors. When I was finally re-adjusted to my pre-Africa self, I began contemplating tangible ways I could build off of my experiences in Uganda.
I started working towards my graduate degree in graphic design at Spring Hill College soon after my return. As part of a directed study, a professor and mentor approved a project on non-profit advocacy through design. Early discussions involved partnering with one of the ministries working on the ground in Africa to provide them with the design and marketing services they need so desperately but lack the time and financial provision to do. Given the communication barrier and time sensitive nature of the project, I decided to contact Autumn Kerr, director of Visiting Orphans in Tennessee, the organization that sent me to Uganda just a few months before. One of VO’s goals is to develop relationships with the ministries they serve, so I figured they would have a better understanding of the needs of each ministry. I was surprised to find that Autumn handled most of the design and marketing at VO herself, and could use some help updating their brand for the next round of print materials. She sent me a package with their current print materials, and we established some guidelines for the project.
Given VO’s well-established brand, I was faced with the challenge of providing a fresh, modern look, while maintaining their existing organizational identity. My goal was to clean things up, and make the information more accessible, while instilling a sense of urgency in the viewer. I did this by using a bold new color palate and sleek set of typefaces juxtaposed with intimate portraits of the children and families VO serves. I was able to use a lot of my own photography from my time in Africa, and that was really special to me. The new campaign places emphasis on the faces of the children, reminding you that they are real, and that they need our help. Having spent time with some of the children in the photographs, using their images was a way for me to sort my own experiences with this intense level of need.
My mom always preaches, “never put anything off for later that you can do right now…Just do it”. Her profound appropriations of pop culture taglines are priceless advice for a procrastinator like myself. We are so far removed from the rest of the world, it’s easy to lose sight of our aspirations for saving it. It’s much more practical to cover our eyes, and repeat the mantra that we won’t make a difference anyway. It’s in God’s hands, not ours. But I’m a believer in diving in headfirst. You won’t fix the world by going on a Visiting Orphans mission trip, or sponsoring a hungry child, or starting a community garden, but engaging in positive, proactive activities is bound to change your perspective or provoke something in someone else. Your actions affect the lives of others more than you know. Make sure you’re investing your time and talents in things that make a positive difference.
If you’re interested in taking a trip, or getting involved with organizations that are making a difference, click here.
For me, photography and design are more than a career choice. They are my medium of choice for cataloguing my experiences. I just happen to make a living helping others do the same. If you have any questions or thoughts on collaborating, I’d love to hear your ideas. Here’s the best way to get in touch.
Now, go and change the world.