International Travel: Impressions

In our social-media, digitally-obsessed world, there’s no lack of opportunity of getting seen or heard. Countless times throughout the day we can post about every aspect of our lives and get a response. But not everyone has this opportunity.

As a Producer, Writer, and Photographer for Feed the Children, I’ve had the life-changing opportunity to travel the world and produce programs and videos, as well as photograph our work internationally. Over the years, I’ve interviewed thousands of people that we serve — from many countries, tribes, villages, slums — you name it. Sadly, many of these people are far removed from the conscience of the world. They have no electricity, no iPhones, iPads, computers — in essence, no voice in our modern culture. Yet, despite the enormous hardships and suffering they endure on a daily basis, they are truly some of the strongest people I’ve ever met.

I’m getting ready once again for a very big trip. I’ll be traveling with two other videographers/photographers to Kenya, Uganda, and the Philippines for the entire month of November – which will be the longest and farthest trip I’ve taken so far in my tenure at Feed the Children.

Tanya M. ROloff Photography
Tanya M. Roloff Photography

But despite the ENORMOUS task of preparing to be gone that long, I am driven to push through all the details — packing, dangers, exhaustion, thousands of miles of travel, and obstacles — for two main reasons. The first reason is to continue to bring help and hope to the many children and families who do not have access to food and life’s essentials. This is the mission of Feed the Children, and the heart of God as well, and is what drives me into the oftentimes dangerous places we go to get the stories that help us continue to raise awareness and support for the work Feed the Children does.

And the second reason is to give these amazing children and people a voice. I was doing a story in El Salvador a few years back and one of our security guards who accompanied us told me at the end of our trip that it was a great thing we were doing by interviewing and talking to the families. He sort of got emotional and said, “Were it not for us getting their story, they might die having never been known.”

“Die having never been known.” Those words are permanently marked on my heart. I’ll never forget them. This, to me, is one of the biggest rewards of my work — to give these resilient, beautiful, talented, incredible people a voice and a platform to share their struggles, hopes, dreams, pains, fears … a platform so many of us have at our fingertips, yet take for granted. Truth be told, they’re always the ones that help me more than I could ever imagine by allowing me to tell their stories. And despite all the jet-lag, sickness, and every other challenge we face, it’s worth it all in the end! I take a piece of them with me everywhere I go. They’ve left an indelible impression on my heart and I can’t wait for what lies ahead.