Human Rights Activist/Humanitarian
My passions are photography, traveling and doing humanitarian work. I had an opportunity to combine all three on a first visit to Haiti in 1997.
I have lived on St. Thomas, working on St. John as a wedding photographer in the Virgin Islands, for 20 years, to support myself and my travels
Starting 2001, I began a series of visits to the Dominican Republic, where I have a godson of whom I am his legal guardian. He lives in the DR. His mother died of AIDS. I have helped the Dominican women and children with food and shelter. I did volunteer work and made donations at a Haitian Refugee Camps in the Dominican Republic, where many live in extreme poverty and AIDS.
I traveled to Cuba in December of 2002 and September 2003 spending 2 months there. Crossing the country from Santiago de Cuba to Havana. I helped several families that had very little. I went to the hospital in Havana and saw the children’s ward, with children dying of cancer. Due to the US embargo, these children were not able to get the medicine they needed.
In 2003 I began sponsoring four women through œWomen for Women International and children thru œKeep a Child Alive. I am also actively involved with the “One Campaign”, “Equality Now”, “Amnesty International”, “Save Darfur Coalition”, ENOUGH, “US Women without Borders”, “Anti Slavery International”, and “Rebero Orphanage” in Rwanda.
In 2005, I volunteered at an orphanage in Thailand, that was also a monastery, and volunteered in the prison in Bangkok with women prisoners, who had children ages 2-6 years old living on the prison grounds. Then I traveled to Dharamsala India, where the Tibetan government in exile resides. I worked with the Tibetan Women’s Association, teaching English, and worked with ex-political prisoners of Tibet in exile. I also studied Buddhist Philosophy six days a week. I volunteered at a halfway house for Tibetan alcoholics and addicts out of rehab. I was very influential in getting Alcoholics Anonymous active for Tibetans, working with the Secretary, and translator to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I sponsor several monks and women in Dharamsala. I had the honor of photographing th Karmapa Lama and a Tibetan Fire Ceremony that doesn’t happen often. My understanding is this ceremony has never been photographed. This was a 2 1/2 month trip.
In December of 2006 till Feb. 2007 I went to Rwanda to meet the four women I sponsor. I saw a high number of women and children that could not read or write. I was asked to help Alcoholics Anonymous get started in Rwanda, as many people, trying to forget the genocide, were dying of this disease. Everyday week day I went into different villages, with Women for Women International. I sat in on discussions about family law, personal hygiene, prevention of AIDS, how to deal with stress, and many other topics. On the weekends I spent time in orphanages. I took an orphan and put her into a boarding school.
Today I want to be a voice for the orphans and the women of extreme poverty in our world, who have experienced atrocities from war and genocide we can’t imagine as Americans. I feel my purpose in life is to use my camera as a tool to elevate awareness to the living conditions I have witnessed. It doesn’t seem fair that anyone should have to die of hunger from poverty or AIDS.
I realize how fortunate I am as an American woman, and I hope that other Americans will realize how fortunate they are. Yes, there is much to do in America, but my determination and passion is to be a voice for the orphans and women that many of you will never meet or see. We can make a difference and change the world is my dream.