WHO WE ARE
Up from Under exists to break the barrier between those in need and those who desire to serve. Whether building homes, providing refuge, or empowering those in need to rise stronger, Up from Under believes when the value of one life is understood, change can begin.
Up from Under believes regular people can make a difference. While doctors, educators and care givers serve a vital role in trans-border care and service, there are countless opportunities where everyday people are needed. Love and service have no boundaries. Up From Under offers the courageous spirit within you the chance to embrace a life other than your own. We recognize the value of one life and serve as the organization that connects regular people with regular needs—it’s not about a hand out; it’s about a hand up.
Upon my first return from Haiti in June 2010, I knew my life was no longer the same. There was a part of me, deep down, that had shifted—a part of me I’d never known existed until Haiti. Or, if it did exist, I had kept it buried deep in a place I was afraid to search. Afraid until I encountered Haiti, a country who, in all its rubble and glory, unearthed in me a need for something far greater than myself: a need to serve others.
Sometimes doors open in our lives and we are too afraid to walk through them. We have no idea of the profound experiences waiting for us. Haiti was waiting for me. God knew this a long time ago as he prepared me for a time in my life when I might be the most effective—with my heart ready, my mind clear, and my experiences—professional and personal—eager to be used for change.
What can I possibly do to make a difference? This is the question that haunted me while I packed for that first trip. I am not a doctor, an educator, or a care giver. I take pictures for a living! How could I possibly give back!? I discovered that it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s how we do it. My camera has become a healing agent—not just healing these people, but also myself. My camera–began to engage people and became a catalyst for interaction—offering a moment of pure joy when a man, woman, or child sees their photo for the first time. They recognize their beauty forever frozen. Slowly, the layers of trauma peel away and they see that we see, their importance.
I choose to connect. I choose to relate. And those two small choices have caused a landslide within—shifting my paradigm of life, blowing the doors of opportunity wide open.
So, through Haiti I have been awakened. I have connected to others. Vulnerability has made space for change within me—change that is projected to others in a tangible message of: We are the same, even if we seem so different on the outside.
My friendships with Pepe, Sonson and Sam have been a pure, sweet gift from God. They have proven to me that life, even when traumatic, can unearth beauty from ashes. I have seen the face of unconditional compassion. I have watched love for others unfurl self respect until dignity is in full bloom.
We—me and you—are strong and courageous. We can withstand what life throws our way. But we are bravest when we stand beside another—lending strength to the weak. We are fullest when we empty ourselves to another—even a perfect stranger. In these moments: When we lift up, support, and encourage, true change begins—in our spirit, in their lives.