The Call to Prayer

“God is the greatest. I acknowledge that there is no god but God.”

It was the middle of the night and I had not fallen asleep yet. The fearful airport entry had gone well...we were not pulled aside or questioned as we entered the country and completed customs. But on the first night out exploring the city, our workers (missionaries) had suspicions that we had been followed by secret police, which obviously had shaken each of us a bit.  The question remained:  How to film in a country where security issues loomed large?

I lay in bed that night frustrated with sleeplessness, overwhelmed with emotion, but not sure why. At 4 am I heard a faint sound of a speaker from the nearest Mosque, a man calling out the Adhan - the call to prayer, in Arabic:

“I acknowledge that Muhammed is the messenger of God. Hasten to prayer. Hasten to prayer. Hasten to success. Hasten to success.”

 I tossed and turned. The Adhan can be heard throughout the city, with no way to escape its dark and eerie echo. I had come here to tell the story of our workers and yet I couldn’t recall the promises of our Brother (the name for Christ I was to use in any communication with loved ones back home). I wrote down memories from the day to send to friends that were back home praying for me. I would find out later that some of them had been praying together at the very hour the adhan was proclaimed over the city.

“Prayer is better than sleep. Prayer is better than sleep.”

 I just wanted to sleep. The next day would be full as we would be traveling to a refugee outreach and, for me, meeting Syrian refugees for the first time. In my exhaustion I couldn't bring myself to ask anything of our Brother. 

“God is greatest. God is greatest,” the Imam continued.

I tossed again in my bed, a mattress on the floor surrounded by my photography and filming equipment. Was this trip a mistake? My mind raced: “I have to use my camera to tell these stories, and that’s why I’m here. But we can’t even say the name of Christ much less show missionaries in any of the shots."  Many of them work under high security, as telling others of Jesus is a crime.  "What if they’re found out and it’s my fault? What if I’m found out?”

“There is no god but God. There is no god but God.”

My own call to awaken came an hour later. Since my visit to the Middle East, God has reminded me of His promises in Psalm 56:

"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me. In God, whose word I praise, in the Lord, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"

He remembers our tossings. He knows how many times I tossed and turned that night as I was full of anxiety and fear. We would hear the Adhan more than twenty five times during our time in the Middle East and I never got used to it.  A chilling echo over a city gripped by restrictions which keep many from hearing the name of our true Christ. I left the Middle East more thankful and moved by a God who not only keeps count of my tossings but His same book tells me He gives to His beloved sleep, all reminders to trust Him and not fear.

Pray for our missionaries in closed countries around the world…that they would know God loves them so deeply that He keeps track of their tossings and catches their tears in a bottle. Pray they would know He is at work in dark places. And in the midst of fears, anxieties, and persecution that you and I quite frankly can't understand, pray that God would give them sleep. 

 

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Please pray for!

 

•  Trips in 2018: Pray as we are in communication with folks "in the field" to determine where and when I'll be documenting different teams in 2018. Pray for our communication with teams and for plans, schedules, and logistics to work out to go where God is leading for 2018. 
•  Church visits: Pray for opportunities to share at more churches and new outlets to speak about missions in order to encourage the American church, advocate on behalf of our missionaries, and raise support for this ministry. 
•  Support Raising: Pray for God to provide the remaining yearly support needed and for the account to stay healthy for future years as we plan trips and storytelling for next year and beyond. 
•  Editing Challenges: I am editing sensitive videos I filmed from the Middle East in 2017. These present challenges and require a different approach. Please pray for safety and encouragement for our missionaries appearing in these films and for God to call long-term workers to the Middle East. 
•  Spiritually/Physically: These trips can be challenging emotionally, spiritually & physically as I go back and forth to the field. Please pray for Christ's power to be made perfect in my weakness and for rest in the midst of seasons of long work hours and trips away from home.


This ministry is made possible by the generous support of individuals and churches each year. If you're interested in partnering with me, you can give online by clicking the blue button below or you can mail a check to the following address:   Mission to the World PO BOX 744165 Atlanta, GA 30374-4165 #96229 Claire Hutchinson

This ministry is made possible by the generous support of individuals and churches each year. If you're interested in partnering with me, you can give online by clicking the blue button below or you can mail a check to the following address:

Mission to the World
PO BOX 744165
Atlanta, GA 30374-4165
#96229 Claire Hutchinson

2017: A Year in Review!

2017
 A year in Review!! 


This year was one of major transitions for me in a lot of ways! From finishing up videos from 2016 to presenting at churches, to serving on our pastor search committee, to my first project in a closed country, to going full time with Mission to the World, God has brought me through many doors and taken me to unexpected places. You have been a huge part of this year especially in these specific transitions. Your prayers, support, and encouragement have made another year possible. I'm thankful for the ways God uses you each year to remind me that we were not meant to do things alone, big or small. Celebrate with me another wonderful year of God's faithfulness in this ministry. 

6 months at home   Much of the beginning of the year was spent finishing up films from a very busy 2016! I got to spend almost 6 months in the US in early 2017 and I spent much of that time playing catch up not just on films but on rest as well! God used that time to allow me to finish films before starting new projects, establish new friendships, serve in a sustained way on our pastor search committee for South Baton Rouge Pres. in our first few months of getting the committee going, and go on restful trips with friends! It was time that I didn't know I needed and I learned a lot from it. 

6 months at home

Much of the beginning of the year was spent finishing up films from a very busy 2016! I got to spend almost 6 months in the US in early 2017 and I spent much of that time playing catch up not just on films but on rest as well! God used that time to allow me to finish films before starting new projects, establish new friendships, serve in a sustained way on our pastor search committee for South Baton Rouge Pres. in our first few months of getting the committee going, and go on restful trips with friends! It was time that I didn't know I needed and I learned a lot from it. 

    byFaith Magazine   In the spring of this year ByFaith Magazine did an article on MTW and the PCA's response to the global refugee crisis. They used photos from my time on the docks of Greece in Athens in March 2016 as refugees from Syria and neighboring countries arrived on the shores of Greece fleeing war and persecution. This was another way that God used the photographs and videos of the refugees we've worked with in the last 2 years to bring more understanding and awareness of the ways God is making His name known amongst the nations. 

 

byFaith Magazine

In the spring of this year ByFaith Magazine did an article on MTW and the PCA's response to the global refugee crisis. They used photos from my time on the docks of Greece in Athens in March 2016 as refugees from Syria and neighboring countries arrived on the shores of Greece fleeing war and persecution. This was another way that God used the photographs and videos of the refugees we've worked with in the last 2 years to bring more understanding and awareness of the ways God is making His name known amongst the nations. 

Refugee Film at General Assembly

The film on the refugee crisis that I made from time in Greece and Germany in order to educate and call the church to support our missionaries involved in planting churches amongst refugees was shown at this year's General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church in America. We received a lot of encouraging feedback from those who saw the film and continue to pray that God uses them to encourage others to pray, give, and go to serve amongst refugees around the world.

Sharing at Churches and other Changes    We expanded this ministry to also entail my sharing at more churches throughout the year about what God is doing in other places. We saw multiple missionaries gain financial support, prayer partners, and encouragement from stories shared at churches in the last two years. Now my job with MTW is also to be a kind of advocate for our missionaries abroad and to seek new ways and places to get these stories in front of the American church.  Please pray for more opportunities and places to speak in the coming months and years. 

Sharing at Churches and other Changes


We expanded this ministry to also entail my sharing at more churches throughout the year about what God is doing in other places. We saw multiple missionaries gain financial support, prayer partners, and encouragement from stories shared at churches in the last two years. Now my job with MTW is also to be a kind of advocate for our missionaries abroad and to seek new ways and places to get these stories in front of the American church. Please pray for more opportunities and places to speak in the coming months and years. 

Full Time with MTW!   I went full time with MTW! We increased my responsibilities with MTW and the amount of videos we'll produce each year as well as added some responsibilities with our marketing department and increased the Communications Arts Initiative budget for future years.Thanks to the support of many individuals and churches God provided a way to go full time with MTW which is a dream come true. I am still raising support and have about 10% left to raise to be fully funded for 2018.  Please pray that God would provide the final funds needed to do this work full time! 

Full Time with MTW!

I went full time with MTW! We increased my responsibilities with MTW and the amount of videos we'll produce each year as well as added some responsibilities with our marketing department and increased the Communications Arts Initiative budget for future years.Thanks to the support of many individuals and churches God provided a way to go full time with MTW which is a dream come true. I am still raising support and have about 10% left to raise to be fully funded for 2018. Please pray that God would provide the final funds needed to do this work full time! 

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Trip to Middle East and closed country.
 

In August, I got to work with some of our workers in the Middle East for the first time in a closed country. Since I started documenting stories of Syrian refugees hearing of Christ and getting involved in church plants in Greece & Germany after fleeing their home countries, I have longed to be able to get even closer to the crisis and learn even more about the suffering, culture, traditions, and beliefs of those God is bringing out of the Middle East and into countries where they can hear the gospel for the first time. I got to do that in an unexpected way this year and the trip changed me in many ways. I learned about missionaries all over the world living under threat of deportation or worse all for the sake of the gospel. I also learned more about the war in Syria, why people had to flee, and their beliefs which have helped me understand those we've served and will serve for years to come. Stay tuned for more stories from the Middle East and videos from my time there and please pray for the production of these videos over the next few weeks.

Past projects reunited at GMC    I got to experience an unexpected reunion at the PCA's Global Missions Conference this year! I ran into friends I served with in Greece, Washington State, Canada, the Middle East, and Germany among other places. It was a little taste of heaven to reunite with brothers and sisters serving around the world and to hear from them how God has used the videos we made from our time with them and their ministries over the years. This photo is of me with Tim and Alex who have planted a church in an anarchist neighborhood in Athens, Greece. They are also doing refugee outreach and made a point to tell me at the conference how God has used the videos we made of their ministry in Greece to increase their work and support. It was a special time of remembering all God has done and an encouragement to press on!

Past projects reunited at GMC

I got to experience an unexpected reunion at the PCA's Global Missions Conference this year! I ran into friends I served with in Greece, Washington State, Canada, the Middle East, and Germany among other places. It was a little taste of heaven to reunite with brothers and sisters serving around the world and to hear from them how God has used the videos we made from our time with them and their ministries over the years. This photo is of me with Tim and Alex who have planted a church in an anarchist neighborhood in Athens, Greece. They are also doing refugee outreach and made a point to tell me at the conference how God has used the videos we made of their ministry in Greece to increase their work and support. It was a special time of remembering all God has done and an encouragement to press on!

PCA Global Missions Conference

In September, I traveled to Ukraine in order to document stories of community transformation amongst Ukrainians after the Soviet Union collapsed. The story of Masha and her mother, Olena, coming to Christ through English classes led by MTW missionaries was shown at the GMC conference in Dallas in November this year. Thousands of people got to hear of God's work through workers in Ukraine and other places and hear the call to support and pray for missionaries around the world through this conference. It was an honor and encouragement to see God use these films in that way.

3 years with MTW!    This season marks 3 years working with MTW as photographer and videographer for the Communications Arts Initiative and marketing department. There are many days where I have to pinch myself from unbelief at what God has done in providing this ministry and calling me to be a part of it. In the fall of 2014, the marketing department created this position in order to provide these stories of what God is doing all over the world and I am continually encouraged by the places He's taken us since then. This photo is from my first project and trip with MTW to Cambodia in January 2015. This ministry is made possible by you and the work, prayers, support, gifts, time, questions, letters, phone calls, texts, coffee dates, and friendship He's provided in this team. I am so grateful. Here's to a wonderful 2017 and exciting days ahead in 2018.   Thank you! 

3 years with MTW! 

This season marks 3 years working with MTW as photographer and videographer for the Communications Arts Initiative and marketing department. There are many days where I have to pinch myself from unbelief at what God has done in providing this ministry and calling me to be a part of it. In the fall of 2014, the marketing department created this position in order to provide these stories of what God is doing all over the world and I am continually encouraged by the places He's taken us since then. This photo is from my first project and trip with MTW to Cambodia in January 2015. This ministry is made possible by you and the work, prayers, support, gifts, time, questions, letters, phone calls, texts, coffee dates, and friendship He's provided in this team. I am so grateful.
Here's to a wonderful 2017 and exciting days ahead in 2018.

Thank you! 

 Please consider this ministry for your year end giving and please join me in praying for opportunities to tell these stories wherever God would have us go in the years to come! If you're interested in partnering with me, you can give online by clicking the blue button below or you can mail a check to the following address:  Mission to the World PO BOX 744165 Atlanta, GA 30374-4165 #96229 Claire Hutchinson

 Please consider this ministry for your year end giving and please join me in praying for opportunities to tell these stories wherever God would have us go in the years to come! If you're interested in partnering with me, you can give online by clicking the blue button below or you can mail a check to the following address:
Mission to the World
PO BOX 744165
Atlanta, GA 30374-4165
#96229 Claire Hutchinson

Naika Walks...Port au Prince, Haiti

While in Haiti we did several different things throughout the week and got to servein multiple ways. Today, I’d like to talk about one of the many things we got to be a part of and our  original connection to the opportunity to go.

So, Kate, my dearest friend and roommate, who is now a continuous help on wedding days and practically partner in this business, has a lot of family that have loved me as well as she has over the years. One part of this family that feels like my own is her aunt in Texas. Kandis is a physical therapist who works with special needs children in a school district right outside of Houston. She originally found out about Grangou’s work in Haiti through her own church.(more on  Grangou and what they specifically do through the boys’ home we partnered with in Haiti is coming). For the past few years, Kandis has been taking wheelchairs to Port au Prince and providing assistance for special needs kids.

I’m going to pause my story here in order to give a shout out to American Airlines. A couple of days before we left, Kandis’s husband, Steve, went to talk to American Airlines about our flight. At this point Kandis had collected 7 wheelchairs and a gait trainer from current clients who didn’t use these particular chairs anymore as donations for her to take to those who need them in Haiti. We also wanted to take 6 checked bags full of clothes and medical supplies which was a priority since shipping these items is pretty much impossible (they will likely be stolen before getting to the right folks). So Steve went to talk to American Airlines about all these bags and wheel chairs. The guys at the counter remembered Kandis and her many trips with wheelchairs and Steve showed them pictures of some of the kids she goes to visit. American Airlines decided to let us check all the wheelchairs, gait trainer, and 6 bags..for free!!! Since starting a business, I tend to get super excited when I see people run their businesses well. I know many people have issues with just about every airline out there as traveling has sometimes become a nightmare for folks so really I couldn’t believe they let us do this. That’s kind of a big deal these days. It was a very redeeming and hopeful report in my mind and so I think American Airlines could use a shout out.

So…Monday morning we trekked to the airport, trailer in tow, with 7 wheelchairs, a gait trainer, and 6 huge bags full of belongings of our church members and medical supplies our friends had donated to people they didn’t know. It was a pretty awesome sight and the first of many humbling moments on our trip. When we arrived in Port au Prince after a very long day of travel, getting initiated right off the bat into the very different culture of Haiti simply by arriving at the airport, waiting…and waiting…and waiting some more…we met our team and had dinner at the hotel. While visiting with team members we were told in passing about Naika, a little girl who had recently been taken in at  Zanfan Lakay, the street boys’ home we would be working with. Naika couldn’t walk. She had to be carried to get anywhere and held sometimes by multiple people in order to do any basic tasks you and I take for granted every day. With Naika’s condition, most children in the US would have the resources and therapy to be walking by her age. Naika is originally from the cemetery where many men and women live within the walls and amongst the graves.

I had heard of people living in the cemetery all throughout the trip but it wasn’t until we got back that I found out what these women live in. There is a cemetery in Port au Prince that has 24/7 guard service within its gates. There are women within the gates of the cemetery who have been allowed to live there and given “protection” by the guards in exchange for prostitution and “servicing” the guards on a regular basis. These women live in the cemetery, are abused and used by the guards, and often become pregnant without a way to care for their child. Naika became a part of Zanfan Lakay, the boys' home, because, Jimmy, the house dad at the home regularly takes food and clothing to the women within the gates. Naika was likely born with cerebral palsy and there was no one to accurately care for her within the gates, so Jimmy took her in.

I mentioned a gait trainer was donated to Kandis before we left. The thing about these wheelchairs and supplies Kandis gets is she takes whatever folks can give and doesn’t really know who in Haiti will need them, what size these folks are or what size their chair would need to be. She just takes what people give and sees how she can use them when she arrives. This trip was the first time she was given a gait trainer to take to Haiti. A gait trainer is basically a walker which is used for children who have cerebral palsy or other issues walking or using their legs.  In the U.S., if  a child with cerebral palsy is given the care they need from a physical therapist, the child can learn to walk with a trainer and even get to the point where they are able to walk on their own. Again, Kandis hadn’t heard of anyone in Haiti that she knew would need a gait trainer, but brought it anyway knowing we would likely find a use for it. God provided the trainer for Naika long before Kandis or our team knew about Naika’s need for it.

The following photographs are of the first time Naika walked. This happened our first day in Haiti. With all of the boys and girls from the home and our entire teamwatching, Kandis stretched Naika’s legs, stood her up, and then put her in the gait trainer. At first Kandis helped her get acquainted with the device and helped hertake her first few steps…and then the smile that came was full of more joy than I think I’ve ever seen in a smile as Naika began to do it on her own. Her face had suchan expression of redemption and hope. It was the first of many reminders that God is at work amongst these people, that he saves the lost, that he came for the poor and broken, and that he literally causes the lame to walk.

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The next day, Naika walked the length of the front patio area by herself. She even got to watch a video of herself walking on her own.

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With the gait trainer and the help of the older boys at Zanfan Lakay walking Naika each day, she will now have the opportunity to be stimulated each day with activity, go outside on a regular basis, play with other children, and we pray eventually be allowed to go to school and get an education

(something she can’t do now as the schools in Haiti do not take special needs children and much of the culture views those with special needs as unwanted and cursed.)

Throughout the remainder of the trip, Kandis was able to give all 7 wheelchairs to those who needed them and purchase an additional chair for a man who lives in a tent city where we delivered food throughout the week. More on those who received the other chairs and how God used our time there will be in later posts and stories.

If you know of a way to donate wheelchairs or funds to purchase supplies and medication needed to treat children like Naika or if you want to learn more about how you can sponsor one of the boys or girls at Zanfan Lakay, please comment or email me (hello@claireelysephotography.com) or visit Grangou’s website here.

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"And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised

up, the poor have good news preached to them." Luke 7:22

Thanks for stopping by friends,

Claire

Haiti...an introduction.

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I’m going to start with a little back story. I explained in my last post some of why I went to Haiti. But it hasn’t been until I returned that I am beginning to understand more why I went.

I think just about every time I first meet someone, inevitably in the conversation, the question comes:

“so what’s your favorite thing to photograph?” or “so why are you a photographer?” or at the very least “so what kind of photography do you do?”

The answers to these questions are answered swiftly, without much forethought, and then followed by other conversation. I think after Haiti, the answers to these questions can’t really stay the same. And I’m thankful for that.

 Yet, in the back of my head as I answer these questions, there’s always this one nagging question that I usually keep to myself:

 Why did I pick up the camera in the first place?

 I don’t ask this question in a way that assumes I never should have picked up a camera, or that I regret my career choice.  It’s more of a little reminder to consider why. And God giving me the opportunity to go to Haiti was that little reminder played out in real life.

 You see, I picked up a camera years ago as I struggled to know what I wanted to do with my life. Back then I thought I wanted to maybe be a “counselor.” This idea revealed that what I value most is having real conversations with people and serving others. That was the desire in a nutshell. As I’ve gotten older, studied photography in college, shot 3 years of weddings, started life on my own as a single woman out in the world, and had to make a decision of what I will follow, what I’ll live for, and ultimately what my mission will be…the desire to serve others hasn’t changed- it’s just become more focused.

The thing is, I originally picked up a camera because I saw that, for whatever reason, God had provided a gift, and a desire to use it and other gifts in order to help. I just haven’t been able to put to words what that “help” actually looks like or means. I've only part known what it means and why I picked up a camera to go, to serve, to use photography and this device that somehow by the grace of God stops His time in its very tracks in order to connect people, to bring awareness, and to bring money, aid, and help from people who, without these photographs, would not know about the need.

 Until Haiti.

 Since our return, I first of all got sick, which laid me out for a week. But honestly I can see the sickness was a very good thing for me in a lot of ways because it helped me process and settle back in. It also granted me a whole lot of time to read, research, and look deeper into this thing tha,t for lack of a better term, is titled “humanitarian photography.” For those who know and love me well, I’ve been throwing this term around for quite a few years in hopes it’ll stick and be something I could pursue. There is no definition in the dictionary for a humanitarian photographer, but a humanitarian is one who

1.

has concern for or helping to improve the welfare and happiness of people.

2.

of or pertaining to ethical or theological humanitarianism.

3.

pertaining to the saving of human lives or to the alleviation of suffering: a humanitarian crisis.

 I’ve thought a lot about this term, this idea and desire I’ve always had, and the comments and ideas of other people who strive to be “humanitarian photographers.” I don’t have it all figured out by any means and I never will, as I’m not the one to know what God has for me now or in the future or why He does what He does…but I’ve been able to realize that long ago God put in me a desire to do something for reasons I may not have been able to put into words, and now He’s given me a little bit deeper understanding than before. I’ve realized that this thing I’m wanting to do with the camera, this aid I’m wanting to bring, this “alleviation of suffering” and desire to “improve the welfare and happiness of people” cannot and will not be separated from the ultimate need and goal of the gospel being that which saves them. I’ve read a lot about bringing dignity to others through photographs. Something I’ve always thought about is somehow using photographs to bring an awareness of people’s conditions and for people to open up their wallets and their time in order to give back after seeing what some people are living in. These are all still missions of mine and ideas I plan to pursue…but the point is..now, more than ever, it’s clear to me that all of these things can’t be separate from a desire to speak the gospel, to make the love of Christ, our need for it, our brokenness, and the grace that came from a man, who wept most of his time here because of the brokenness he saw, that humbled himself in order to go. I can go to other countries and take pictures of people in order to bring dignity to them in the midst of their circumstances, and I can photograph them with a smile instead of a frown in order to show that God made them in his image, and I can stop time in its tracks with this tool that God will likely use to bring money and time and concern from others….but if I do it without bringing the message of the saving grace of the gospel. If I reduce it to “happiness” and “welfare” or even “food” and “clothing” but do not bring the only “alleviation of suffering” there truly is…then what am I doing?

Some of the things we saw and experienced in Haiti are still difficult for me to know how to talk about. Some of my response has been fear to look at the images because I get overwhelmed. How am I supposed to put words to these images and reduce these people, these situations, these circumstances to a bullet point beneath a photograph? The truth is I still haven’t gotten to the answer of those questions. But I know I am to try. You hear people saying “I need to give a voice to these people” and I do. “ I need to bring dignity to these people and show others that they have hope, life, joy, and even faith..sometimes more than we do in here in this culture”..and I do. “ I need to do my share and give up my time and energy and money for these people who can’t speak loud enough on their own.”…and I do. But if I separate it from the love of Christ or from the saving knowledge that I am just as broken, just as helpless, and that it’s only by the grace of God that I have the opportunity to show a beggar where to find food…then I’m just another humanitarian, just another helper, and it’s just another 7 day pin-point on the blip of the radar of my life. God has called us to more. And I don’t know what it looks like in the day- to- day, or if I’ll have a chance to do another trip like this one or photograph those who are hurting and starving and naked and in danger…I hope I do…if it were up to me I would. All I know is I got to go to Haiti, God provided a way to photograph and speak His name while there, and now it’s my job to try in my limited understanding and ability to tell these people’s stories and thereby bring an understanding of the brokenness of all of us…not just them. So the next few weeks will be a very flawed and pathetic attempt to show all of us our need of the very thing that played itself out as we watched hurting, starving, naked, dying people…

...a Savior.

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This is just an introduction and start of many, many photos I have and plan to show. Please bear with me as I process, in every sense of the word, the photos I was able to take and stick around to see more and hear some of these peoples' stories if you can. Thanks so much for reading, friends.

And thanks for stopping by,

*Claire

p.s. I'll be telling more soon about the group we partnered with but check out their website to learn more:  http://grangou.org/