2015 has been a grounding year. It has been what I needed it to be and I thank God for that. Grounded does not mean dull though, I have been gifted the chance to travel widely once again and to places that have amazed me. I have met people, beautiful people, people who have restored some of my faith in the power of what it means to love your neighbour. People who have been through some really difficult times but who have taken their human mess and turned it into something full of grace and restoration. The ugly scars from 2014 still burn sometimes but 2015 has given me new scars, tattoos if you like – marks I have chosen to burn on my heart and soul.
This images are not in date order, but rather sum up the themes of my 2015 in travel.
2014 was all about feeling disconnected. I felt numb. By contrast 2015 was about feeling very connected to the world, to people. I have been reminded that life is about people. Some of those people are dear friends and families but others we only meet for fleeting moments. This beautiful girl in Bali (August 2015) lit up my path on a walk in the mountains. I could not speak to her, no shared language, but her smile and her joy in her environment lifted me and stayed with me all year.
Sierra Leone does not leave me. For whatever reason that place is in me, it is part of me. In April I travelled to shoot photos for The Dorothy Springer Trust and for All We Can. Both shoots were all about people – the wonderful, resilient people of Sierra Leone. I’ll be back.
Being a woman is hard. I have been heavily involved in the I am (wo)man campaign all year and the theme of being connected through my experience as a woman has been a strong one in my life. Both with I am (wo)man and through some of my photography with All We Can (such as this image shot in India in November) I have been consciously connecting with what it means to be a woman in the 21st century.
The women I met in Kuju, Jharkhand, India in November had such a warm and generous spirit, the welcomes I received going into their homes was beautiful and very touching.
I don’t really like cities. Not much of a fan to be honest! However this year cities have surprised me in a good way.
Oh New York – I actually loved every gritty, grubby inch of you!
Hong Kong, one of the best cityscapes in the world I think.
Hong Kong traffic moves under the shadow of the city’s many skyscrapers. This is a city ‘of the future’ – I spent the whole time feeling as though I had skipped into the 2050 of a sci-fi movie.
Getting my heart broken for what breaks God’s heart
Visiting the Philippines in May to find out about the impact of Typhoon Haiyan on communities there was heartbreaking but also inspiring – the courage of the people to take their broken lives and start again shone through. Very inspiring trip with All We Can.
Spending a morning in the coal mines of Jharkhand will make any physical toil I ever do now seem easy by contrast. Harsh environment. Harsh lives to live.
Regents Road Baptist Church in Freetown, Sierra Leone; worship continued in April 2015 but the ubiquitous bucket of water had become par for the course as part of the Sunday routine. Oo Ebola, we are gladi u lef we!
Sierra Leone still operated under the cloud of Ebola when I visited in April 2015 but I had a beautiful day with one of my best friends at River No.2. This country is stunning and remains so. Such tranquil beaches.
A tranquil tourist experience visiting the world’s largest copper Buddha on Lantau Island with my husband.
Watching, and photographing, people in prayer was intimate, personal and peaceful. On the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia.
Food and drink – always a travel theme for me!
Ethiopian coffee ceremony while visiting one of All We Can’s partner organisations in Debre Birhan.
Bedugal Market in Bali
Fish supper – The Philippines
I wanted to finish with the theme of fun – we must always have fun with our work when we can. One of my favourite things about my job is getting to meet such awesome people and being constantly reminded (often by children!) that we need to relax in life and laugh when we can.
Play can come without the need for anything apart from the natural world around you as these boys demonstrate in Giporlos, The Philippines.
Ceremonies in Bali are full of colour, life and theatre. While on the one hand things are taken incredibly seriously and such ceremonies are sacred people’s sense of spirituality also encapsulates fun. I learnt a lot from my short time in Bali.
Children playing in Dulag, The Philippines. Racing hoops!
Two little girls pretend to be photographers in Jharkhand, India.