Category Archives: Nicaragua
I am thrilled to have an article printed in SURFGIRL Magazine, the raddest womens surf mag in The UK.
EOS magazine is a great photography publication coming out of the UK, focused on the technical side of photography and specifically of Canon EOS cameras.
I wanted to write an account of my experiences volunteering in Latin America, thinking it would appeal to EOS readers. The editor Angela August agreed and offered me a two page spread in the Nov 2011 issue. When the article went to print, it ended up as four pages.
I was really pleased to receive an email from Angela saying
“Very many thanks for your contribution. I must compliment you on your fantastic pics, sparkling, well-targeted copy and generally getting everything to me on time and in sensible order. You made my job very easy!”
I put a lot of effort in to making the article as polished as possible, so it’s so nice to hear I could make Angela’s job easier.
Here is a copy of the article.
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Antony Ledezma Mendin
& The Bethlehem Youth Club – A photo shoot for Opportunity Nicaragua
When Antony was eight years old his parents divorced, and his family disintegrated around him. Antony’s mother is Costa Rican, but his farther is Nicaraguan. When the family broke down Antony’s father returned to Nicaragua, forcibly taking Antony with him.
They moved to the Nicaraguan Capital of Managua and shared a house with Antony’s grandmother. Life at home was tough, and the family relationship was strained. Antony rebelled. He fought with his father and grandmother, who also fought with each other. At a young age he began experimenting with drugs, smoking and drinking, by 12 he decided living on the streets was better than at home. He ran away.
Antony lived on the streets with a group of friends. They stuck together and protected each other. To get money they would steel whatever they could, sometimes visiting local farms to rob fruit and then sell it on the street.
As he got older, the group of friends developed into a gang; drugs and gang related violence became part of life. Antony looks back on his past drug use with open honesty, recalling “I was crazy, but I liked it (to feel something different)”. The violence on the street was life threatening. At one point in a street gang related attack Antony’s skull was smashed open with a rock, he spent 15 days in hospital and came dangerously close to death.
His life reached crisis point after the sudden death of one of his close friends and soon after Antony was jailed for armed robbery. He spent two months in jail awaiting sentencing. While in jail, a Christian group visited the inmates. Their message resonated with Antony and when still in prison he accepted Jesus as his saviour. Antony was facing at least 10 years in jail and began to pray to for his freedom.
On the day he was to be sentenced an extraordinary string of events occurred. The official escort to court failed to show up. At the end of the day the police officer in charge did not know what to do. He called Antony inside and, astonishingly, gave him his release papers. The charges were dropped and he was free to go. In that moment Antony felt God had answered his prayers and became a committed Christian.
He was free, but with nowhere to go Antony was back on the streets and in danger of returning to his old ways. In his old neighbourhood he met Doña Suzie, who is part of the Bethlehem Youth Club community. The youth club rescued Antony from the streets. They gave him a place to live, food, clothes and support to turn his life around.
Now, the number one change in Antony’s life is a feeling of security. He no longer has to steal in order to eat or wonder where he is going to sleep. The Bethlehem Youth Club gives him a safe, supportive environment, for him to strengthen his resolve to live a new life.
Antony now dreams of being married and having a family, not such a wild dream. He already has a child on the way with his girlfriend, but is honest when he says he is not prepared for marriage. Antony feels inadequate about not finishing school and not having any job skills. He hopes to earn these and be able to support his own family before he asks his girlfriend to marry him. He also dreams of finding his mother who he has not seen since leaving Costa Rica.
Text by James Galletly, Freelance Travel Writer
I have just finished running a 1 week photography workshop with 12 wonderful children, through Empowerment International in Granada, Nicaragua.
Empowerment International’s mission is to build educated and productive communities to stop the cycle of poverty before it transfers to another generation. Their vision is for every child to go to school and achieve the level of education they desire, which is no easy task in a country where 50% of children who begin first grade drop out before fifth grade to help their families who may live on less than $1 per day.
Volunteering with Opportunity Nicaragua was an wonderful experience that allowed me a glimpse into the lives of many hardworking artisanas and farmers around Granada, who despite adversity, can go through life with a smile. The experience gave me perspective on how tough life is for so many people throughout the world, and how fortunate I am to live the life I have.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from the experience.
Playa Gigante, Nicaragua
This morning when I was on the front porch three men with very big guns walked past me, trailed by some very excited dogs. They returned this afternoon with a bunch of iguana for dinner, Saturday night special. My little friend took one of the iguanas from her Dad and started parading the catch around the main street (Yes, this is the main street pictured).