The Polaroid Project: South America

July 18th

Mozambique, Polaroid Project

Blog world, you’ve been so generous to me. So, I feel a bit sheepish asking you for a favor.

But I’m gonna anyway.

I’m preparing for another big international adventure. This time I’m taking South American by storm. I leave one month from today and will spend three weeks in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. The bulk of the trip is work related — I’m traveling with a volunteer surgical mission to rural hospitals in the region. (There is also a bit of cheap, quick vacation thrown in to end of the itinerary. Machu Picchu! Amazon! Buses, hostels, lots of hiking, oh my!)

I truly can’t wait.

Back to my point: I need a favor. One of the most fulfilling and heartbreaking aspects of my job as a public health worker is spending time in the hospitals. They are miserable, decrepit, crumbling buildings where only the luckiest receive treatment. My favorite place to find refuge is the nursery, with the newborns. I’m a sucker for babies, what can I say? I’ve hauled my Polaroid camera to Central America and Africa to take photos of mothers with their newborns. Nothing makes these women happier than to have a photo with their new child. There is no onsie provided. No roses, balloons or other regalia commonly seen in celebration of birth in the developed world.
You can imagine the importance of a simple Polaroid — some proof this baby made it into the world safely, often against all odds. Trust me — they love it.

The favor: film. Polaroid film is muy expensive. If you’ve got some hanging around, or feel the inkling to swing through the film aisle at Target, I’ll happily make you a wristlet in return. Let’s swap, shall we? I’ll even stuff your wristlet with fun goodies and send you a photo of these happy mamas when I return. Don’t like wristlets? How about an apron? Purse? Cake?

Email me: africankelli at gmail dot com. And heaven forbid I receive too much film to take, I’m off to Africa in November and promise it will go to good use there too.

I’ll be forever thankful,


Posted in
Journal, Photography, Public Health, Travel
Follow the comments.

18 Responses

  1. Is there a model # for Polaroid film? Or are all Polaroids created equally?

  2. Lera just asked my question!

  3. you are so awesome. i wish i could do something like that to make someone so happy. it’s so simple. and to give them a unique gift that could be passed on to their children, etc.

    how much film do you need? pie in the sky number? aren’t there like 10 or 12 shots? it’s been a while since i’ve had my polaroids out.

    what a fabulous trip. I’m so envious. my lifelong dream is to join the peace corps and work with people who can benefit from my time and energy.

    and you will, of course, take thousands of photos to share with us?

  4. Count me in. Please note on your blog if there is a particular type of film I need to buy other than just Polaroid. My brother and his family spent 4 years in Bolivia working with children living in the streets.

  5. I will see if I can find any when I go to the store tomorrow! πŸ™‚ And I am so jealous that you get to go to Easter Island. Luckily your a cool girl, so I can be happy for you instead of cursing your good fortune! LOL!

  6. I would be more than happy to contribute some film! Just let us know what kind, and I’ll be sure to swing on by Target! πŸ™‚

    And I have to add that I truly admire you! You are a blessing to all those you help!

  7. Kelli – maybe think of sticking a paypal donate button on your blog and then us that live across the pond can throw money at you πŸ˜‰

  8. MEANING – We can contribute too! *Sigh* just in case that comment came out wrong! πŸ™‚

  9. I would be glad to send some, or $$…which ever is easier for you. I spent 10 weeks in Nicaragua in 2004 and it was simply amazing, heartbreaking but amazing. I cant wait to return with my boys next time. Many Blessings!

  10. Your ‘project’ is awesome. Count me in…You dont’ even have to make me a wristlet (since I already have one :-)).

    I’m SO JEALOUS about your machu pichu adventure!!!!! That is on my top 5 list of places to visit in my lifetime. I cannot WAIT to hear about it and of course see your lovely pictures!

  11. You are so kind! And this is a great way for so many other women to contribute without even going there. Thank yo so much!

  12. I’m so so in. I love this idea. Just need details please!

    Also, you will have a blast hiking Machu Picchu!! It’s so neat that you have such a great job you love that takes you all over the world.

  13. What a great idea, I’m emailing you right now.

  14. Now that your film request is met is there something else you could bring! Little knit hats for the babies or blankies? Feel free to send me a message if you think something else is needed.

  15. Have you tried contacting Polaroid’s corporate headquarters to see if they will donate some film? This sounds like something they can get some good PR out of if they supply you with all the film you need.

    The URL below has an email for Barbara Hitchcock who handles “Artists Support” among other things. It’s worth a shot.

  16. Google is the best search engine