The Power of Giving Back


Can you imagine living in a world where you didn’t know that washing your hands would prevent you from getting sick? Where you didn’t know that clean water could save your life? Where you didn’t know that education could support you in accessing your full potential?

I didn’t know this world existed until a few years ago.

In 2009, I connected with Adam Braun when he started an organization called Pencils of Promise. They build sustainable schools and education programs for kids in the developing world. Adam and I met when he had built his first school in 2009, and we just recently went to Ghana to celebrate the groundbreaking of PoP’s 200th school.

And wow was it emotional.

2014 Pencils of Promise Ghana 200th

It really hit me at how much impact the organization has made, and my role as a photographer in bringing visibility to their cause. There are few things more touching and inspiring than interacting with the kids, seeing their joy, and experiencing their pure hearts and passion for learning.

At one point, a 12 year old boy got up to give a speech, thanking Pencils of Promise for helping the community.

He ended his speech with “I will make it. I will make it.”

2014 Pencils of Promise Ghana 200th

It made me cry, and hit me at how much a difference we’ve all made through all our contributions. To me, this is the power of education. And the feeling of deep resonance. Of bliss. Of being high on a drug. It’s the bi-product of giving selflessly to help others. And just last week, I experienced how my role can make a difference in the world.

Giving back has been an ethos and mantra of mine since my journey began. In fact, it’s the very thing that fueled my passion of photography. While I believe everyone can give back in their own way, I discovered that giving my talent to make the world a better place was and is the way for me to contribute.

Having traveled to over 65 countries, the biggest need I see across the board is education. Education is the most fundamental gift that we take for granted in the first world, and I say that as I am the first to be guilty of this. Access to education is something that the majority of the world doesn’t even have, and it’s the first seed to realizing our potential.

So I ask you: How can you create impact in the world with your art or other talents? How can you partner with an organization that sees the value in what you do? How can you be creative in coming up with ways to give back to the world?

Beyond giving my talents of photography to the organization, and after seeing the impact first hand, I’ve decided to create a campaign to build a school. I would love for you to join me by donating to my fundraising page.

2014 Pencils of Promise Ghana 200th

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