Walter- The Wonder Dog

Sometimes things happen in your life that you can’t plan for, sometimes these things are good others are just lessons to be learned.
One such good thing was a chance meeting at quick stop gas station where I stopped to use the bathroom about 3 months ago. Before even getting out of the car my partner and I spotted a dog in the car across from us. It looked just like my dog Miracle who had passed about a one year earlier, except it was a boy.  We were not looking for an addition to the family, since I was still recovering from my near death experience in Africa. (which was caused by being poisoned by my doctor,  who gave me the wrong vaccine on may way to Kenya.)
Well, we got contact info for Walter and his story and we went on our way down to the Gulf Coast thinking about him the whole time.
 
Walter’s Story goes something like this…we found him at a gas station with his foster mom, who rescued him from a stud farm. He had been kept in a cage and used to stud for 3 years!  She had rescued him about 2 months prior to us meeting “randomly” at the quick stop. Needless to say on the way home from the Gulf Coast we called Walter’s foster mom and asked if we could adopt him! 
 
Obviously things work out the way they are suppose to, like kismet. There are no coincidences. Walter the Wonder Dog has quickly filled my heart back up with joy instead of pain and is teaching me to laugh, smile and appreciate how to live a again. While also teaching me how to enjoy the little quite moments life offers us everyday.
In addition Walter keeps me on my toes playing hide and seek with items from my gear bag and is helping me get back in shape trying to find all the items he is relocating in the yard!!
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

Jane Says “Thank You” A letter from Nairobi, Kenya

Jane and her brother at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi Kenya, right outside the Lenana Slum.Photo ©Suzi Altman

Jane and her brother at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi Kenya, right outside the Lenana Slum.Photo©Suzi Altman

Senterine strikes a pose at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi just outside the Lenana Slum. Photo©SuziAltman

 
 
 
  
 
I have been home about 8 weeks now and still working on my recovery from the “typhoid’ vaccine poisoning incident.
During this time I have spent many hours wondering about the kids I met at the KevJumba High School just outside the Lenana Slum about 10km from downtown  Nairobi, Kenya. A few of the young girls in particular stood out from the rest, to me, because of their desire and passion to make a difference in their country and their community. After getting to know both young women I want to help both to continue their education. As I explained to them, continuing their education is the key to unlocking their unlimited potential and the only way to effectively make changes in their community and their country.
The two young girls Jane and Senterine are both 15 years old and live in the Lenana Slum. Jane wants to be a writer, and Senterine wants to be a nurse and a  journalist. Both come from extremely impoverished backgrounds and broken families, with the odds stacked against them. Yet they both arrive at school each day, very early, smiling, happy, proud and ready to make a difference in their community and the world they live in. They are both eager to learn how to use a camera to tell their individual stories, and they both have a gift for storytelling. And each has a powerful story to share and as I teach them about photography I learn valuable life lessons from them both.
Although they have much in common the two girls are very different. When I first met Jane, she was very shy, introverted and did not feel or think she was beautiful or worthy of being loved. She worried if she could actually have a future in Nairobi and make a difference. Jane keeps a journal, a daily personal experience of what it is like to grow up in the Lenana Slum. What we take for granted , clean water, food, housing she struggles for everyday. Her mother is in a mental institution and her father is not home, she lives with her grandmother in a dirt floor, corrugated metal roofed home in the slum. And her grandmother does not care much for “raising” another child.
Jane feels very alone and discouraged until I teach her she is beautiful and her words are powerful. And that combining her words with images made her even more powerful. I helped Jane learn to share her insight into her life in the slum and her daily struggle to survive. She learned that by continuing her education she could then influence others to make changes in her community and her country and that one person could make a difference. She needed to believe in herself and by the end of the week I could “see” a difference in Jane. As her self confidence grew, she was more confident in her abilities to write and photograph her community and herself. And that by sharing her story in a visual manner along with her journal was a way for her to reach many other children struggling with similar issues around the world and in her community and this would empower her. I also told her beauty comes from within, and her passion, desire and drive to make a difference made her beautiful.
Senterine on he other hand , has confidence oozing from her pores and just needs a chance, an opportunity, and guidance in achieving her dreams.
We all learned – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger ”  I shared this with Jane and Senterine when we first met in regard to my journey to meet them. And I learned this to be Very True and that they are words to live by.
This past Friday when I went to the “bill box” aka the mailbox I was stunned to see a hand written letter from Jane! Mail regular hand written mail, all the way from Nairobi to Mississippi. To my great surprise when I opened the letter from Jane, it was so beautifully hand written, each word spelled correctly in english. She asked about my health, my return trip home and hoped I had not forgotten her. During her daily struggles she found the time to write and ask how I was doing. I was stunned and amazed by her kindness and grace. In her letter she thanked me for the lessons I taught her, she referred to me as “her mum” and said she never met a person “like me , with a golden heart” and promised to” stay strong” for me! Again I was stunned, but this time I was also crying. There is no way I could eve forget Jane, or the lessons I learned on the journey to meet her. I only hope I can continue to be there for her in the future, and I plan to be. Currently I am preparing a packet of prints and a hand written letter to send to her so she will know I have not forgotten her, nor could I ever. She has changed the way I view the world, and this I will never forget.
to see more photos go to http://www.SuziAltman.com
coming soon …
more about my time in Africa and the journey now

Jane Says “Thank You” A letter from Nairobi, Kenya

Jane and her brother at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi Kenya, right outside the Lenana Slum.Photo ©Suzi Altman

Jane and her brother at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi Kenya, right outside the Lenana Slum.Photo©Suzi Altman

Senterine strikes a pose at the Kevjumba High School in Nairobi just outside the Lenana Slum. Photo©SuziAltman

 
 
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I have been home about 8 weeks now and still working on my recovery from the “typhoid’ vaccine poisoning incident.
During this time I have spent many hours wondering about the kids I met at the KevJumba High School just outside the Lenana Slum about 10km from downtown  Nairobi, Kenya. A few of the young girls in particular stood out from the rest, to me, because of their desire and passion to make a difference in their country and their community. After getting to know both young women I want to help both to continue their education. As I explained to them, continuing their education is the key to unlocking their unlimited potential and the only way to effectively make changes in their community and their country.
The two young girls Jane and Senterine are both 15 years old and live in the Lenana Slum. Jane wants to be a writer, and Senterine wants to be a nurse and a  journalist. Both come from extremely impoverished backgrounds and broken families, with the odds stacked against them. Yet they both arrive at school each day, very early, smiling, happy, proud and ready to make a difference in their community and the world they live in. They are both eager to learn how to use a camera to tell their individual stories, and they both have a gift for storytelling. And each has a powerful story to share and as I teach them about photography I learn valuable life lessons from them both.
Although they have much in common the two girls are very different. When I first met Jane, she was very shy, introverted and did not feel or think she was beautiful or worthy of being loved. She worried if she could actually have a future in Nairobi and make a difference. Jane keeps a journal, a daily personal experience of what it is like to grow up in the Lenana Slum. What we take for granted , clean water, food, housing she struggles for everyday. Her mother is in a mental institution and her father is not home, she lives with her grandmother in a dirt floor, corrugated metal roofed home in the slum. And her grandmother does not care much for “raising” another child.
Jane feels very alone and discouraged until I teach her she is beautiful and her words are powerful. And that combining her words with images made her even more powerful. I helped Jane learn to share her insight into her life in the slum and her daily struggle to survive. She learned that by continuing her education she could then influence others to make changes in her community and her country and that one person could make a difference. She needed to believe in herself and by the end of the week I could “see” a difference in Jane. As her self confidence grew, she was more confident in her abilities to write and photograph her community and herself. And that by sharing her story in a visual manner along with her journal was a way for her to reach many other children struggling with similar issues around the world and in her community and this would empower her. I also told her beauty comes from within, and her passion, desire and drive to make a difference made her beautiful.
Senterine on he other hand , has confidence oozing from her pores and just needs a chance, an opportunity, and guidance in achieving her dreams.
We all learned – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger ”  I shared this with Jane and Senterine when we first met in regard to my journey to meet them. And I learned this to be Very True and that they are words to live by.
This past Friday when I went to the “bill box” aka the mailbox I was stunned to see a hand written letter from Jane! Mail regular hand written mail, all the way from Nairobi to Mississippi. To my great surprise when I opened the letter from Jane, it was so beautifully hand written, each word spelled correctly in english. She asked about my health, my return trip home and hoped I had not forgotten her. During her daily struggles she found the time to write and ask how I was doing. I was stunned and amazed by her kindness and grace. In her letter she thanked me for the lessons I taught her, she referred to me as “her mum” and said she never met a person “like me , with a golden heart” and promised to” stay strong” for me! Again I was stunned, but this time I was also crying. There is no way I could eve forget Jane, or the lessons I learned on the journey to meet her. I only hope I can continue to be there for her in the future, and I plan to be. Currently I am preparing a packet of prints and a hand written letter to send to her so she will know I have not forgotten her, nor could I ever. She has changed the way I view the world, and this I will never forget.
to see more photos go to http://www.SuziAltman.com
coming soon …
more about my time in Africa and the journey now

Africa- My First Journey- Write? Right? Rite? c. All of the above (getting me) Out of Africa

 

Nairobi Kenya KevJumba School Photo©Suzi Altman

Nairobi Kenya KevJumba School Photo©Suzi Altman

View Finder Workshop Africa a photographer’s journey from typhoid poisoning to a Big learning experience and life changing one too.. and my first blog… I have never blogged before ..so be patient with me and gentle….I learn as i go and feel free to give feedback. Grateful to be here  and able to share. I did not know if i should share all this or not..many people have no idea how sick i was or what i went thru…and the few that do I am grateful to them and owe my life to. words can not express the gratitude I have for a few kind souls that helped me while in Africa. one was Elijah , my driver, recommended by Ami Vitale, priceless . The other, Joseph, a son in law to a friend of a friend in Mississippi,  I never meet before I needed his help when I had to go to the Nairobi Hospital….Joseph meet me there, and made sure they did not keep me! and Stephen from the Nairobi NGO, THE SUPPLY. and i would not be here to blog this without my partner Nancy Anne’s endless support. How it started..a seed was planted…while in NYC late in October 2013 at the photo expo to hear some of my heroes speak. One in particular is Ami Vitale a world renowned National Geographic Photographer and a Nikon Ambassador. And I am honored to call her a friend, we worked together many years ago in NYC at The Associated Press early in our careers. I have been following her amazing journey for over decade, and often find inspiration in her work, ok to be honest i am sometime sooo jealous of her also and all the amazing places she has visited and captured with her amazing eye and camera.  ( I can learn a lot from her) I dreamt of going to Africa since I was a child. I should have been more specific…Well be careful what you ask for I got to go but I also almost died from what my DOCTOR gave me….the oral (live virus) typhoid vaccine BAD reaction with methotrexate my RA (rheumatoid arthritis ) medication i have been on for two years. BUT I HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS THE CAUSE OF MY ILLNESS UNTIL I RETURNED TO THE USA AND WAS ADMITTED TO THE HOSPITAL..after visiting the hospital in Nairobi a few days earlier. This is a work in progress. You are wondering how did all this happen..its kinda hard to tell and follow…but i am gonna try and hope i get better at this the more i do it. It all started October 27th 2013 NYC Photo Expo..After watching and listening to Ami Vitale’s presentation at the Nikon stage, I finally got to talk with her we had not seen each other in 10 years,(been keeping up online)  ….and then after speaking with Ami i meet someone new (red flag)…who would invite me to be guest photographer at a workshop in Nairobi Kenya Jan. 2014… I said yes before i had all the details…(RED FLAG number two) the premise was a good one, unfortunately the NGO that asked me to be a guest photographer to teach teens self identity and community identity with the aide of a camera was very “new”. (red flag) I liked the idea…The concept is if you teach someone to have pride in themselves and their community then they are more likely to stay in school, and continue their education, and have a ripple effect on the community they live in and then the world. Unfortunately the non profit that asked me to be the guest photog as i said  is “new”…Fortunately they partnered with an already existing , established NGO in Kenya that built this school right outside a slum about 10 mile from downtown Nairobi. how it all unfolded…..so after the expo in nyc i was asked early november 2013 to go to kenya to teach jan 16-27, 2014.. How i got there…Mississippi to NYC , to meet the folks i was  gonna work with in Kenya. dinner before departure was weird,(red flag number 4?) Then I flew out to Kenya alone Jan. 16th, 2014. arriving in the afternoon of jan 17th 2014 in Nairobi. I planned additional things to photograph after the workshop while in Kenya, including.. a visit to the Maasai Association which included a women’s cultural heritage center and hand made goods market and a school, and then meetings with the CNN hero who opened an all girls school to help prevent female gentile mutilation and other meetings with the Kenya Market Trust. and then on to the Lewa Nature Conservancy. it took weeks of all nighters and dozens of emails to set all this up, a lot of hard work on short notice. spent many hours researching I was asked to be a guest in November and went in January. planned to stay jan 16 thru feb 7th. 2014. i did not get to do any of this………. what really happened. You have to get vaccinated before you can go to Africa..so I went to see an Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor…got all my shots and one vaccine in pill form-typhoid..instructed to take one week before travel..and so i did. I was immediately sick…yet next day took pill number two out of 4 and called my doctor. He said STOP taking pills and come in immediately you are having a BAD reaction so I trotted off to his office  and he gave me the typhoid shot and some antibiotics and sent me on my way. NO further instructions or warnings….off i went to NYC then to dubai to change planes then on to africa.Alone. to meet the other 4 there. well again what real happened once I arrived in Africa was not what was planned. I was alone and supposed to meet the group the day after i arrived across town( out of the way) at a different hotel. when i arrived at scheduled time, they were not there and not only that there were no instructions or note left for me….the journey begins..communications were a BIG issue, the folks I were to meet, the director of the NGO , had no working cell phone.(RED FLAG) and NO real plan of action for the workshop and guest photographer (me). I waited over 3 hours for their return and they did not…this is the day before the workshop was to begin…and still i have not heard from the “group” i am to work with….. So I return to my other hotel and plan on staying there the entire time, better accommodations…BIG Time. (cost more, need to have my own driver now to get to and from school , all out of pocket expenses (mine!) So i arrange to keep Elijah my driver for the next  ten days and we go looking for the school….another adventure….BY this time I am already not feeling well and getting frustrated with the folks I am to work with….Yet I carry on with the best attitude and all the confidence i can muster.. I returned to the USA , Texas Jan 28 ..after having left nairobi on the 27th, throwing up all the way to dubai. the flight attendants were so nice and worried about me, that an ambulance was called to meet me on the tarmac in Dubai , it was the middle of the night, just landed from 6 hour flight, ..and needed to make next connection from dubai to texas another 16hour flight . BUT before i could board the long flight to the States where my girlfriend nancy anne was frantically working her magic to get me home, to mississippi.. i needed to get out of the ambulance and cleared by a Dubian doctor to fly I had a five hour lay over  and spent the entire time in the Dubai Airport hospital …. I was instructed i needed a piece of paper stamped by the “doctor” stating I am ok to continue my journey..very interesting process..ohh did  i mention i am alone, with a huge backpack of photo gear and another carry on, Very sick, and do not speak the language….and puking. can’t hold  down solid food in 3 days and only on liquids….Flying Emirates Airlines…after hanging out in the dubai airport hospital i got wheeled in a wheel chair up to the front door of my plane minutes before it was to leave and placed in a first class “box”…i was stunned. upgraded to first class felt like quarantine …so sick i could not enjoy the experience could only manage to steal all the freebies for nancy anne….the entire 16hr. flight  pilots, flight staff were so worried the would have to “divert the plane” cause i was so sick….We made it to Dallas.. Having gone thru the most traumatic health scare of my life and thinking i was gonna die in Nairobi, alone, it makes ya think once you have some time to recover and process. Photography and my camera have always been my savior. A tool to express myself and the world around me. I have been drawn to cultural heritage, documentary and people, real stories and making a difference with my images and my work, and now I am changing again growing in other directions. I am stronger than i thought , smarter than i  knew and followed my intuition. it’s built in for a reason and it guided me thru the worst experience of my life back to HOME. where i knew i could get the help i needed.

this was the short version more details to follow of time in Africa and how i got home…and working on gaining my strength back and health so I can go Back to Africa!

what ‘s coming n next installments: my actual time in africa A day in Nairobi  Hospital

A few days at the photo workshop, with a trip to the Lenana slum and

an hour with the elephants

The changes in me and the Future

HOW TO GROW GIANT SUNFLOWER STALKS

Amazing project KMT, here i come to help promote the great work going on in Kenya.

Kenya Markets Trust

 

Image

1.Choosing the right seeds

Avoid the traditional variety of seeds and get yourself Hybrid seeds which are developed to be uniform and consistently reliable. While older varieties often become top-heavy and fall over in wet or windy weather, Hybrids have been selected for a strong, thick stalk to support its heavy head. In ideal growing conditions, it reaches heights of 16 feet or more and produces huge seedheads.

2. Soil Preparation

Sunflowers need full sun; see 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day – the more the better if you are trying to grow them to their maximum potential. so get a shamba where there is direct Sunlight and sheltered form wind.

Sunflowers thrive in warm to hot climates with full sunshine during the day. Dry seasons are perfect for growing sunflowers.

Check Soil PH: Sunflowers prefer a slightly acidic to somewhat alkaline soil with a pH between 6.0…

View original post 569 more words