One year ago today, I was boarding a big airplane en route to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with a group of strangers that would soon become like family. Friends, I cannot tell you how long overdue this mini series is, but I’ve saved it for a good reason. If you’ve been following along for a while now, you may have seen me post about last year’s adventure to Ethiopia and then wondered what the heck I did the entire week I was there. I’ve been sitting on content for a full year now because I’ve truly been so nervous to share what I produced.
I’ve had posts drafted and photos curated for months now, but for some reason, pressing that publish button has been SO hard. You see... this trip was a huge turning point in my personal life. Part of me is shocked when I look back and realize it has only been a full YEAR since we were in Addis Ababa and part of me feels like it was just yesterday and part of me still feels like it was a dream.
I went into this trip, feeling a little bit like I was under so much pressure. I wanted to have zero expectations, but I set my personal expectations for my performance really high. I put myself under so much pressure to bring home stories that I felt would let the world know just how much I care about the orphan crisis. I wanted to bring home stories that would make people care like I do. I felt that I was letting my donors down by not sharing the perfect piece. It turns out, all of this pressure was just self imposed. It was silly & unnecessary and totally clouded my vision and the purpose of our mission at the time.
You see, what I realize now, a year later, is that the biggest story that came from this journey around the world is actually my own story. I feel incredibly selfish saying that, but when I look back on the last couple of years of my life, this opportunity is truly such a huge turning point for me. While I’m not quite ready to share to share such a vulnerable part of my life, I'm hopeful that one day I will be. Coming to peace with this fact was a huge part in my delay of publishing content.
It was so important to me that I shared the stories at a time that I was in the right headspace, that I was sharing them for the right reasons and that I felt good and confident in what I was sharing with you. Today, I am excited to introduce the incredible organizations that I had the honor of working alongside in February & March 2017 while showing you the incredible strides they have made in the last 365 days. This post is filled with a little more words than you may be used to on my blog, but I promise, it will be well worth the read. Grab something to sip on and settle on in!
Let’s start with a little bit of trip background. I was given the incredible gift of visiting The Selamta Family Project on a media mission trip with The Archibald Project this time last year. Both organizations are making incredible strides to contribute to the end of the orphan crisis, and I am so humbled to have had the honor of meeting & working closely with them both. Today, I wanted to introduce you to The Archibald Project specifically! (Next week, you can plan on meeting Selamta Family Project!)
The Archibald Project is a community of individuals that work to spread awareness for the fatherless and the world’s most vulnerable children through media. They give the voiceless a voice, and I truly believe that they are changing the world each and every day. The Archibald Project uses media to share the stories of the orphan crisis. They profile outstanding individuals, ethical organizations and stand up for so many people that deserve to be heard.
My friends, Nick & Whitney Runyon are the heartbeat of the Archibald Project, and they have worked so incredibly hard to create an entire community of individuals that are truly the soul of the project. Through visual storytelling, blog pieces, social media, podcasts, and now an online docuseries, they work to advocate for an ethical end to the orphan crisis. (Seriously y’all if you haven’t had a chance to check out the Advocates yet, grab some popcorn, some tissues, and click here. The series will change the way you think.) Nick & Whitney seek out incredible people doing incredible (and ethical things) to support some of the world’s most vulnerable people. I think the ethical mission behind the Archibald Project is so incredible, so huge, and so needed in our scary world. The world of orphaned children can be filled with so much corruption and heartbreak, but it is also filled with so much good. I am so thankful that this opportunity opened up my eyes and gave me such a great insight into how I fit in to advocating for our world's orphans.
I just wanted to share a few quick highlights from the last 365 to show you just how incredible The Archibald Project is:
In the last 8 months, the storytelling work of the Archibald Project helped to connect a child with his forever home. Noah is an incredibly inspiring boy that was just months away from aging out of a home for visually impaired and orphaned children. Read more on his story here & visit Archibald's social media for an update on his adoption.
The Archibald Project produced & released one of the most moving and thought provoking documentaries on domestic adoption. The strength and pure love that is so evident in this piece will truly change the way you think about birth mothers and their unwavering and unconditional love. Grab some tissues & watch it here.
The Advocates Mini Series was produced and released and it still gives me the chills. Nick & Whitney have been busy traveling the world over the last couple of months & have been pouring their heart and souls into filming season 2. I cannot wait to see what they have been working on.
The Archibald Project hosted a media mission to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to advocate for an organization that fights for sustainable, holistic and healthy orphan care each and every day. Sound familiar?! To see Nick & Whitney's heart and their dedication and their intention to serve others well first hand had such a huge impact on my life. These two are absolute rockstars and taught me so much in just one week.
These are only a few of their incredible strides. As they worked through all of this Nick & Whitney also shared that they are currently in the process of adopting three siblings from a holistic and incredibly ethical origination in the Congo, Mwana Villages. I could go on and on about how excited I am to see this chapter of their lives develop, but that would take far too long. My heart is so happy and humbled for them and I cannot wait for their family to be united. To learn more about their journey and to support Nick & Whitney along the way, click here.
I think one of the most incredible things about the Archibald Project is that it connects like-minded people with each other while advocating for a cause that is so much bigger than any of us can put into words. There is no singular solution for the orphan crisis. It is not going to be go away overnight. The corruption isn’t just going to end. The Archibald Project works to share the stories and the testimonials of people doing incredible things to make a world of a difference for some pretty outstanding kids.
Thank you, Nick & Whitney, for giving me an opportunity that truly changed my life. For giving me the opportunity to bring light to a cause that I truly care about. For teaching me and for being patient with me and for being two of the best examples I didn’t even realize that I needed in my life.
Thank you to my team of ladies that I laughed with, cried with, ate way too much injera with and who changed my life in ways that I will never ever be able to articulate. Your friendship is such a gift.
To my donors & supporters, thank you for becoming part of The Archibald Project. Thank you for supporting and believing in a mission that is so much bigger than all of us. Thank you for giving me the chance to share the stories of these amazing organizations and for your patience as I worked on finding the words to share these stories. Your support means more to me than you will ever know.
To support the Archibald project, visit them online, follow them on social media (Instagram | Facebook), become a monthly donor or tune into their YouTube Channel. They are truly doing such incredible work and I know it will absolutely change your life as it changed mine.
I think I’m just about out of words for today. I’m so excited to share a few team images from our time in Addis Ababa with you today! Going through these photos made my heart so incredibly happy. What joy we found while working together!
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