Love Affair
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
2w ago
My mom often teases me that my greatest love affair has always been with Alaska. She isn't wrong. Love, as I have come to know it through this place, does not require another human being. There is love here in its purest and most intense form. There is magic here that reaffirms my belief that magic is real and reality is magic. The land here is sacred. And here I am offered a connection to the divine; a feeling for which I often feel painfully homesick. It is not just home - the place I grew up - but home, the place where my body and soul understand peace, balance and harmony. It is a place I ..read more
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Fleeting Happiness
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
6M ago
"Everyone is a part of a story. What they want is to be part of something worth recording." Erin Morgenstern, The Starless Sea And this weekend was worth recording. The thing about happiness is that is not a permanent state of being, nor is it meant to be. It is not a particular set of variables you can manipulate that will "make it happen". Happiness is one of a fleeting myriad of things available to us on the spectrum of the human experience. Rather than chasing happiness, I prefer to feel my way through, one moment of awe at a time. You can feel sad and stand in awe. You can feel joyful and ..read more
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Welcome, Grief
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
9M ago
I honor my tears. Let them flow. I silence the voice that says: 'stop crying' and gently ask it to leave. I allow my tears to water the ground beneath my feet and heal my wounds. There is strength in welcoming deeply felt pain. I will not numb myself. I will not distract myself. Grief is not my enemy. Deeply felt, it is the most powerful teacher – an agent for growth and change. Deeply and fully is the way through. For in this place, I rediscover the most beautiful love and joy that I have to share with the world. I surrender with intention to the process. I honor my mistakes as opportunities ..read more
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Until next time
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
10M ago
Almost four years ago exactly, standing in my aunt’s kitchen in Ireland, I met a woman named Florence from Malawi. I had never heard of this tiny land-locked country, nestled between Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. But something told me I should find out more. After some research and a whole lot of planning, I scheduled a trip here through Ripple Africa for the fall of 2020. I planned to work as a nurse and teach music to preschoolers. Malawi closed its borders early in 2020, and time passed. The pandemic unfolded and we all wrote new stories about our reality. Now and again in 2021 and 2022 ..read more
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Innocent
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
I pop my head out of Kachere Clinic when I catch sight of Chimwemwe approaching. When her son Innocent sees me, his smile widens. It’s identical to his mother’s, who is pushing him in his new wheelchair. He just received it this week. As his mom unstraps him, he reaches his arms to me. I pick him up and immediately feel how important that chair is for Chimwemwe. He’s heavy, and since Innocent was born four years ago, she has been carrying him everywhere. He sits in my lap for a few minutes shelling peanuts he pulls from the breast pocket of his white collared shirt. Every time he successfully ..read more
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Vital Compassion
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
View fullsize View fullsize View fullsize To be fair, everyone’s English is better than my smattering of Chitonga. Smattering might even be an exaggeration. Once we pass the hello stage, I’m mostly useless except to smile and apologize. But Kayaya’s English is excellent. He’s trilingual, as many people around here are. It’s impressive. Our conversation is comfortable and fluent. He is insightful. Heartfelt. Intelligent. We sit in his office, labeled Patron/Matron. He’s the head nurse at Chintheche Rural Hospital. I have come this morning via a surprisingly un-crammed local taxi to bring a b ..read more
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CSI Malawi
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
We set off early, cycle to the top of the road, lock our bikes and pile into a typically crammed and uncomfortable taxi. Even by Malawian standards it seems to take twice as long as necessary, but almost two hours later, we arrive at Ngala Trading Center and set off down the dusty road to the lodge to meet our guide, John, who will take us hiking to Dwambazi Falls. A few minutes into our walk, Kirti realizes he is missing his cell phone. Aside from the inconvenience and near impossibility of getting around here without a cell phone, my heart sinks when I think of the months of photos on the de ..read more
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Youth With a Vision
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
The lake flies are intense as we cycle along the dusty road to Mazembe. We pass through thick clouds of them and do our best not to inhale too deeply. We walk our bikes when the sand gets too deep and wind our way along the overgrown paths until we arrive at the tiny church. No one is there to meet us, so we continue on our own until we see a familiar looking group of youth standing around a partially completed chicken coup. Mussa hurries over and greets us warmly, insisting he walk my bike for me. I’m touched by the sweet gesture. He’s wearing a ripped purple t-shirt that reads: “You Can’t To ..read more
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The Ripple Effect
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
He is wearing bright yellow and is intimidatingly tall, but his smile is warm and he has kind eyes. He is standing with a tiny girl in a rainbow dress. She obviously trusts him. I decide I will, too. “What are you doing here?” he asks me kindly. “I’m collecting stories.” I answer. “Oh! Can I tell you my story?” he asks. I’m honored to oblige. Before Davies can remember, his father died of malaria. When he was 13, he lost his mother to the same disease. He was the oldest of four and was left to care for his younger siblings. He worked as a fisherman to earn money for food. “Life is hard here ..read more
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Seeds of Change
Alaska Light Photography Blog
by Hannah Hillebrand
1y ago
After a beautiful motorbike ride the likes of which you only tell your mother after it’s over, we arrive in Upper Matete at Chizuwula Club, one of the eighteen community sheds Maston Mkandawire has established in this area alone over the previous two years. Across the wider area, there are a total of 90. Just like the trees and vegetables he is now helping people to grow, his idea for this project began as a tiny seed when he noticed a need in his community. Ripple Africa had begun providing fruit tree seeds to local schools. But after they were planted, local farmers were digging up the small ..read more
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