For the last three years I have been in the fortunate position to be able to volunteer as a photographer, with NGO Raleigh international, a sustainable development charity based in the UK.
I have been lucky enough to have travelled with the charity to some amazing countries such as Tanzania and Nepal. When in country, I document the wonderful work that they do in some of the most rural and isolated communities.
This year I was asked if I would like to join the charity in the Central American countries of Nicaragua and Costa Rica. The charity would be running programmes for 18-24 year old volunteers where they would be facilitating, WASH projects, natural resource management programmes and to finish a leadership trek around the beautiful Nicaraguan volcanic region of Matagalpa.
Having visited the beautiful country of Costa Rica earlier in the year, I jumped at the chance to head back to this part of the world, I even had started to learn Spanish in preparation (not very successfully I might add!)
So I said goodbye to my understanding boyfriend and daughter for 11 weeks and headed off to the field base in Nicaragua, Masaya.
From here we got our bearings and prepared to be sent out on our first project!
Firstly I was to meet some entrepreneurs that some of our volunteers where mentoring into gaining extra fundings to expand their business. An amazing part of the programme, which I could see first hand was encouraging and empowering its participants on both sides of the scheme.
All of the entrepreneur’s imaged above managed to secure the extra funding to expand their growing businesses, and are looking forward to brighter futures!
Whilst documenting the work of the entrepreneurs, I was staying in a very small village a good 5k walk from the next nearest village. The charity places all volunteers with host families, a wonderful way to really get involved with the communities and learn about their culture and language (most of the volunteers are placed with the same family for around 12 weeks so they grow close bonds with their families). I was lucky enough to be invited into some of the families houses to take portraits! I was even paid by some! (banana’s and fruits being the currency!) I heard later that one of the mothers had actually cried when the prints were given to her at the end of the project! To be able to bring such joy is a pleasure that will never leave me.
After a week, I then travelled onto a wash project in a more northerly part of Nicaragua, nearer to the border of Honduras, again a lovely remote village, with some wonderful characters and great people. Being able to live within these communities is just wonderful for a portrait photographer, the chance to establish yourself amongst the villagers is amazing for gaining their confidence, enabling me to get closer and more intimate with the subject.
The camera gear performed in all situations, heat, damp (many of the the villages were in the rainforest areas of the country and it was rainy season), and lots and lots of dust!
With the robust build of the X-T2 and the lenses I was confident at all times with the cameras ability to cope with the conditions of such a demanding trip.
Quick and responsive, the kit was ready for all scenarios, perfect for portraits, lovely for landscapes and just a great all-round kit to document yet another life enhancing trip for me.The last part of the trip was a trek to discover the beautiful countryside of Nicaragua, and it really didn’t disappoint! Trekking with the X-T2 light to carry on some gruelling days of trekking. Even taking both lenses the load was bearable and so worth the little effort to capture some stunning shots from our camps on the top of volcanoes and the side of lakes….. we were lucky enough to witness some incredible sunrises!
Here are some more of the images that were taken in Nicaragua! I hope that they capture even half of the earth and beauty, that this wonderful country has! I am very much looking forward to going back in the future to discover more!