Leigh Righton

One Year Today

Travel adventures.  I am feeling oh-so nostalgic as it was one year today that I jumped on a plane with Charlyne Yi and Jennifer Hee to embark upon a journey I couldn’t have possibly prepared myself for (although I sure tried)  Most people, including myself, assume that if you’re going to get ill on a trip it would be during your travels through Sri Lanka or India as your body tries to process new foods and new environments.  I however, found myself running around Los Angeles on my one day layover, trying to find a doctor who would accept my travel insurance and put a stop to the fever and general ailment that had me eyeing my proximity to the bathroom wherever I was.  Thanks to Charlyne, who selflessly used up her day to prepare for our five week adventure, to help me resolve this issue before we had to sit on a 16 hour flight.

This trip was over a year in the making between the three of us and Nick Hindman at Orphan Sponsorship International, who generously hosted and planned our visit with the kids.  Charlyne and I had only just got to know each other when she extended an invitation for me to join her and Jenn on this trip that they were planning together.  I knew Jenn was amazing when she welcomed me along as a travel buddy without every having met me.  The first time I saw her in person was when we got in line at the LAX airport to check in together for our flight.  I felt like I already knew her well after all the time we spent chatting and making arrangements over email.

Fortunately, for everyone, my symptoms were cleared by the time I stepped onto our 16 hour flight to Dubai en route to Sri Lanka.  It felt like a miracle, and surprisingly not one of us got sick the entire 5 weeks.  I guess I just got it out of the way!

I could write a million stories about this trip, but for now, here’s a little montage of our adventure that Charlyne created.  It gives me memory goose bumps.

Leigh Righton

Video – Orphan Sponsorship International

This may be more of a memory keepsake for myself and travel companions and the kids we worked with in Sri Lanka and India, but I think the smiles and joy is contagious!  Thank you to Nick Hindman of Orphan Sponsorship International for having us and helping us, and thanks Jennifer Hee and Charlyne Yi for being the best travel buddies ever!

Video by Charlyne Yi:

Leigh Righton, Photography

Orphan Sponsorship International- Photo Project

To those who aren’t familiar with my current travels and the project I’m involved with, here’s a little rundown.

While this trip has been in the making for almost two years, my two friends and I have finally joined in Sri Lanka and now India to visit with and work with Orphan Sponsorship International. We began in Sri Lanka where we stayed in an apartment alongside the 10 wonderful kids who live in the boarding house created by OSI.  Nick Hindman is the founder of the organization, and a true hero.  I wish I could find the words to describe how selfless and inspiring this man is.

Before I traveled I reached out to my friends and the online community asking for any old point and shoot cameras that were collecting dust to be donated to a project I wanted to do with the kids.  Thanks to these generous people, I was able to put 6 cameras in the hands of eager kids across the world.

Our time in Sri Lanka was much more intense, we were able to see the kids whenever they weren’t in class and were able to spend a lot of time getting to know them and working with them more closely.  We learned one of their dances and picked up a few words, it was a learning exchange.  I showed the kids some photography and my friend worked on music with them.

During our visit in Pune India with the program there, we had a more limited opportunity to spend with the girls.  Here there was no boarding house, but a program in place that worked with 42 kids within the Janata Vasahat slum community.  We were able to join them on a number of their activities, and one FULL field trip day into the India country side.  We were also honored to be invited into their homes where we visited some of their families and met with the kids one on one, what an experience!  I was able to work with four of the 42 kids in the group on this photo project and their eyes sparkled when they took hold of the cameras, it was so much fun to work with them, even with the limited time we had together.

Both the boarding house in Sri Lanka and the girls in Pune India were given the cameras to continue the project.  I am hoping to follow up in a future trip to continue our workshops and work together.

When I return home I will begin to work on the next phase of the project and I look forward to sharing it with you!