I Was Featured On CNN.com

I wish I can say that I came to South Africa with the full intention to give back. I wish I can say that dedicating hundreds of hours to self teach myself photography was so that I could give beautiful pictures to needy people. I also wish I can say I was meant to do this.

But no, it all happened by sheer coincidence. Just like everything that has happened to me this year. We didn’t plan to come to South Africa. I didn’t plan to have a life here. I didn’t expect to make so many great friends. I didn’t know there was this much poverty here till I saw it with my own eyes. Despite that, I didn’t know anything about giving back. And when I started going into the field to give back, I never knew it would be so rewarding. I never knew people who have never met me before could be so happy just because I visited them. I never knew that their smiles could warm my heart in such a big way.

With the Help Portrait movement, the only thing I knew how to do was take a proper picture. I knew how to take photographs and it made sense for me to offer my services to those who needed them. It also helped that I had no confidence that I could deliver great pictures but I wasn’t charging a fee and I was told no one would care about the technical quality of the pictures. So I got out there to do this. Be a part of the Help Portrait movement.

   Photo credit: A fellow volunteer from Help Portrait. I’m not sure who.

I documented my entire Help Portrait experience on my blog, just like I do with everything else. When I’m old and toothless, I want to remember the life I had in South Africa.

I never expected CNN.com to catch on to my story and publish snippets of it in an article – see Photographers to “give”, and not “take” portraits on CNN.com on 9 December 2011.

It’s an incredible feeling.. surreal, actually.. to see my name and a URL to my blog on one of the most respected websites in the world.
 


 

Go here to CNN.com for the full article or click here for a copy of it.
 

What a huge honour. I am thrilled for the opportunity. I knew what I would have to be to get on CNN when I was a banker. But what do I know about getting on CNN as a housewife?

  Photo credit: The hubby

Back in the old days, I would probably have popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate this moment. But it seems so trivial now. Sure, I am thrilled. But I’m not jumping up and down for joy like it’s the greatest achievement in my life.

In my earlier life, achievements were so important. Whether I felt self confident or not depended on what kind of job I did, how much money I made, where I was on the corporate ladder and the successes I could check off in my list of achievements to accomplish before 30. It was a stressful and demanding life. If you are reading this blog and feel that you would never be able to write a blog because you would have “nothing” to write about, you are probably living the same life.

It’s amazing what Africa does to a person. Now I feel calm and peaceful in a way I never had before. “Achievement” and “success” have a new meaning. Not everything is celebrated with an expensive bottle of champagne (well, we can’t afford it now anyway). But every so-called achievement goes deep into the soul and makes me feel strong, calm and confident in its own magical way.

Thank you for joining me on my journey on this blog.. for your endless support.. encouragement.. and all the congratulatory messages that have flowed in.

xoxo, Bing

-

Related posts and links -

What is Help Portrait 2011? Watch it here -


 

All my posts on Help Portrait are here.
Read about my experience and what I’ve learnt, shared and done..
 

 

22 Comments

  1. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful blogs ever written – honest & with gratitude. It brought tears to my eyes & I’m so grateful I got to follow your progress in your amazing journey.

    Karen, you may remember the life you had in South Africa when you’re old and toothless, but every child or person you photographed & helped will remember you as the person who touched his/her life in a big way.

    How you got here is not a coincidence. This is only the beginning!

    • aaaww.. thanks for the encouragement, Evelyn!

  2. Don’t know you as a personal friend…STILL, so so so very proud of you Karen. Not just for the fact that you got mentioned on CNN.com (WOW!) but your perspective of life and what achievements really mean.

    You are not just doing good for the poor kids through the Help Portrait Movement, but us “richer” folks – reminding us to make our lives count and not lose our soul in pursuit of “achievements”.

    • Yes, please do not lose our soul in the mad race! It’s like what Nelson Mandela said in the poem Invictus – “I am the captain of my soul.” =)

  3. What a beautiful, heartwarming post, Karen! You’ve had such an amazing journey, and I hope you keep sharing it. And it is so true – what we give, we often receive tenfold. And what truly matters is the richness of our soul, not our “achievements”.

    Still! Congratulations on the phenomenal CNN coverage!

    • Thanks heaps! It has truly been an incredible journey. I’m not sure about receiving tenfold.. but I’m not really counting! Hahaa..

  4. Congrats, Karen. You’re awesome.

    Reading your post right now reminds me of another blog post I read yesterday, about “Being on the Edge”. I related to it immediately and I think you will too. Check it out – it’s only a couple of paragraphs:
    http://eremophila.wordpress.com/2011/12/11/being-on-the-edge/

    • We’ve certainly lived on the edge. Have you found a way to kill your prawn?

      • No! I never saw him again after that night. I’m still afraid he will come back.

  5. It was time to be noticed your initiatives and I’m glad it happened like this! Congrats and keep up the good work!

    • It still feels unbelievable that I got noticed! Haha..

  6. God’s grace upon you and your family, and He definitely know how to touch your heart, via your life in Africa. Thank you for such a nice blog, we as readers also learn from you. =)

    • Thanks for your kind words, Wen Ni. We are learning from one another! =)

  7. Congratulations Karen! You certainly deserve it for the amazing things that you do!

    • Thanks Paige! I’m just glad I could contribute! =)

  8. Congrats!!! Proud of you, a local blogger to be featured in CNN and told to the rest of the world what you have been contributing!!!

    • Thanks Ally! You’ve been such a strong supporter! =)

  9. Karen, I am just in love with your blog. Im a proud Joburger, and amazing to follow you as you explore! Hopefully we will all run into each other in 2012!

    • *Waves* If you see me on the streets, Jaco, give me a shout ok! =) If I’m drunk, pretend you didn’t see me. =p

  10. Congratulations Karen! I had no idea you’d been featured – recognition you so richly deserve :-) You’ve done an amazing job in South Africa so far!

  11. This is so true…. which is what i am living now. Seem like your words are a reminder to me to slow and stop chasing:

    In my earlier life, achievements were so important. Whether I felt self confident or not depended on what kind of job I did, how much money I made, where I was on the corporate ladder and the successes I could check off in my list of achievements to accomplish before 30. It was a stressful and demanding life. If you are reading this blog and feel that you would never be able to write a blog because you would have “nothing” to write about, you are probably living the same life.

  12. I was looking at this post again and am so happy that you’ve achieved so much throughout your journey in SA, making it so enriching and even more memorable! =)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>