For those who have followed my travels prior to the Hippie Van Man project. You will know I started another travel project previously while on my 11-month India/South East Asia backpacking trip in 2011/2012. For those who don’t know about the project, here is a link to that blog, The Developing Nations Project.
In short, The Developing Nations Project is about giving back by giving self-portrait prints to people in remote communities and developing regions.
To sum it up, after the first two months of my India/SE Asia journey, I was left feeling like I wanted to add more value and meaning to my travel. The idea came about to make portraits, print and distribute them to people who may have never had the opportunity or resources to have self-portraits before.
In the months following the inception of the project, I photographed and distributed photos for people in Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines and Indonesia. All together I printed and distributed more than 400 photos.
Not only did the project give me an immense satisfaction of being able to give back while I traveled, but it completely changed the dynamic of my journey. It felt as if there was a shift from being an outsider, observing and taking photos somewhat selfishly, to being someone who was invited into these communities to socialize, learn and contribute. The project was a perfect icebreaker in many instances and I made a good deal of friendships I wouldn’t have otherwise made.
In addition to meeting some really great local people along my trip, the project also gave me access to some pretty great opportunities that the average traveler might not come across, such as being invited to stay with families in their homes, to be apart of a wedding, being invited over for home cooked meals (something which is a big deal when you’re living on the road for 11 months).
At the end of that journey I already had started to conceive the notion of wanting to do a road trip from Canada all the way down to South America. I am happy to say that I will be continuing my efforts on the Developing Nations Project as I make my way through Central and South America. I look forward to sharing more photos and stories from this project in the coming months.