As a self-described nature-lover, Megan Peterson says she is eager to pack her bags and travel to Lome, Togo, in western Africa, with the Kailend organization in June.
Two-years after applying for her first Photographers Without Borders project, Peterson is currently crowd-sourcing funds for her trip after researching online for opportunities to travel and photograph, two of her passions. Since her first application, Peterson has expanded her photography portfolio to include enticing images of nature and landscapes
Peterson’s first encounter with photography developed alongside her fancy for being outdoors as a child. “Growing up and then into adulthood, nature and the great outdoors have always called to me,” she said.
When she first moved from the flat lush lands of the Midwest, Peterson says she was amazed at the new and different type of desert beauty present in the Southwest and wanted to share her new surroundings with friends and family back home. “I started educating myself and accumulating equipment,” she said about her first pieces of camera gear. After acquiring some basic knowledge and tools, Peterson’s photography propelled forward.
Peterson has since developed her own photography business, capturing memorable moments for couples, pet owners, and families with her portraits. However, her main photography interest has always been landscapes.
After being approved for her trip to Lome, Peterson conducted some research to understand the NGO she would be travelling with, Kailend.
“Some of Kailend’s focus are on youth development through sports training and education and also supporting local orphanages. These things combined to really peak my interest and the desire to want to lend a hand to these children through my photography skills.”
She also discovered that the mission of the organization was similar to some activities she participated as a child.
“My father was a youth and family director at our local YMCA, (which was) a dream for an active- (and) sports-minded child like myself. I was fortunate enough to participate in these programs growing up and then went on to plan and implement youth-sports programs of my own. I also taught preschool for years and found that job to be the most rewarding I have ever had.”
While her father directed her activity as a child, Peterson maintains a strong support group of family members and friends for her upcoming trip.
“They have supported me in so many ways: verbally, emotionally, financially. I have some great, supportive friends that have been accompanying me on this journey since day one. My sister, my biggest cheerleader and best friend, has been there every step of the way. I am thankful for everyone who has believed in me and joined me on this amazing life adventure.”
Peterson may have her family and friends at her back, however, she must pack her own bags for the trip. “I know that bug spray will be an essential. And, of course, all of my camera gear to capture those special moments that the work of Kailend will deliver.”
To prepare for her trip, Peterson has been reading and researching the local area in addition to studying geographical maps to learn more about the flora and fauna that are natural to the environment. She is also “brushing up” on her basic French to help communicate with the locals.
Despite her best researching efforts, however, Peterson still has plenty of learning to do while on her trip. Through this experience, she hopes to enhance her travel skills and confidence in navigating around a foreign country. Additionally, she is eager to use her skills in photography to help a cause gain traction through multimedia.
Peterson wants to bring a new perspective to the area and tell stories of the people who live there. “I now know that I will be working with women, children, and other impoverished individuals through the implementation of women’s empowerment programs, street children sport development, orphanages, and teaching projects,” she said.
Peterson’s excitement extinguishes any of her pre-trip jitters, declaring that there is “nothing that (her) adventurous nature won’t handle.”
More than anything, Peterson says she is anxious to start the project with Kailend and continues to research more on the organization to further expand her knowledge.
Peterson continues to raise funds for her trip through her PWB Page.