Day 1: Photography and Surfing brought to Mission Mexico. Live Love Hope


Welcome to another series of blogs to start off 2013!  This trip like many others is derived around surfing but in a whole different perspective.  Perspective is what this trip is all about.  Surfing is a unique sport that brings people together around the world and this is a prime example where it has not only accomplished that and so many others things.

We are in Southern Mexico in a place called Tapachula, a small town near the ocean with a very special orphanage called Mission Mexico residing within.  Mission Mexico has been around for a while but 12 years ago an Australian couple,  Allen and Pam came to volunteer and never left.  It was nearing a shut down and they just couldn’t let that happen.  Fast forward 10 years later and that is when I learned about it through my good friend Jacob Shields who runs The Compound Boardshop on the West coast of Florida where I grew up.  Jake is one of those guys that doesn’t have a mean bone in his body and of course is a surfer.  He has been coming down to help the orphanage for years now, building, spending time with the kids, donating and putting in lots of time and effort to help make a difference in a kids life.  These kids have pretty horrific stories.  Stories you and I can’t even imagine.  They land here and have an opportunity to have a life.  Every Sunday is surfing day and they take the kids surfing……all 50 of them!  You think your life is tough taking your two kids to the beach?  Allen and Pam are heros.

Mission Mexico has about 40-50 kids at any time run by just a handful of dedicated volunteers that come in and out except Allen and Pam which sometimes are nearly taking care of 40 kids by them selves.  Jake called me up a few years ago to ask if I was interested in having a few pieces of my work in a little photo show at his shop.  I was happy to hear his support of the photographic world and even more to find out all the sales from the show would go to and orphanage in Mexico.  In April the photo show will be in its 3rd year and we are here to make it a little more special and try and raise a bit more money in an effort to support Mission Mexico.  His idea to bring me hear was to show the kids the world of photography and get them involved in the show as well as the awesome art of taking pictures.  Jake and I got a handful of cameras donated by some awesome people ( Andy Shear, Sara Gomez, Nate Hamler, Lauren Guzzi and Christy Mari )  for the kids to use and keep.  During my trip I will be introducing them to the cameras, how to use them and explore their area with them and their new camera.  We plan on then taking some of the images the kids take, printing them and then involving them directly into their own fundraiser back in Florida alongside some of my images and other great surf photographers.  Sounds pretty rad?

I am writing this in our bunks stacked 3 high, sass we are staying at the orphanage, listening to the peacock call somewhere nearby.  Along with us on the trip is another friend of Jake’s and huge supporter of MM, Shane also from Sarasota, Florida.  He is directly involved in a lot of the construction of the work they are doing building on a piece of property the orphanage has on the ocean.  They have both been here many times, up to two weeks at a time doing hard labor helping to build the surf camp building at the beach.  The orphanage is in the town which is a short drive from the beach.  They are striving to extend to the beach.  Shane will be here working on that and also teaching the kids some art as well.  Look for more as Day 1 is promising to have a start to this enlightening experience.

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Ben Hicks