Just more than two years ago I left the streets of New York City for the shores of West Africa. I'd made my living for years in the big Apple promoting top nightclubs and fashion events, for the most part living selfishly, thoughtlessly. Unhappy, I desperately needed a change in my life.
I asked myself.... What did the opposite of my life look like?
|and I'd never heard of them. Top doctors and surgeons from all over the world left their practices and fancy lives to operate for free on thousands who had no access to medical care. The organization I soon found to be full of remarkable people. The chief medical officer was a surgeon who left Los Angeles to volunteer for two weeks - 19 years ago. He never looked or went back. |
I was offered the position of ship photojournalist, and immediately traveled to Africa. At first, being the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court felt strange. I traded my spacious midtown loft for a 150-square-foot cabin with bunk beds, roommates and cockroaches. Fancy restaurants were replaced by a mess hall feeding 400+ Army style. A prince in New York, now I was living in close community with 350 others. I felt like a pauper.
But once off the ship, I realized how good I really had it. In new surroundings, I was utterly astonished at the poverty that came into focus through my camera lens. Often through tears, I documented life and human suffering I'd thought unimaginable. In West Africa, I was a prince again. A king, in fact.
A man with a bed and clean runningwater and food in my stomach. I fell in love with Liberia - a country with no public electricity, running water or sewage - Living in a leper colony and exploring remote villages, I put a face to the world's 1.2 billion living in poverty. Those living on less than $365 a year - money I used to spend on a bottle of Grey Goose vodka at a fancy club. Before tip.