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Picture Perfect July

August 21, 2012

For the staff and kids at EI, July was a highly anticipated month – their photography program was to go to the next level.

EI kids with Colby and Michael

Colby Brown and Michael Bonocore with EI students. Photo by Kathy Adams

In a back to back two-weeks trip handled by The Giving Lens, an organization that leverages the power of photography through partnership with non-profits, children were to go on a furious picture-taking spree. But this was to be no ordinary clicking of cameras; with them would be many of the world’s best professional photographers ready to hone their skills and teach them the fine nuances.

It was no wonder then that in the first week of July, when The Giving Lens team began the trip, the kids quickly began learning the good shots from the better and grew in confidence in their own craft.


The photography team encouraged the students to use creative angles and unusual subjects; they corrected their techniques and encouraged their passion. They took them to places where stunning vistas abounded and set their cameras at points where the visions would become exceptional. The kids accepted their mentors with smiles, hugs and cheers; they welcomed them to their houses, shared their stories, brought their own brands of energy to the expedition and went on to impress everyone with their beautiful and heartfelt shots. By the end of the trip, several participants of the photography trip had sponsored students from EI.

Michael Bonocore with EI kids

Michael Bonocore with EI kids. Photo by Josh Pollak.

Michael Bonocore, one of the photographers from the team spent the two weeks in Granada and along with The Giving Lens and fourteen photographers helped teach photography to the children of Empowerment International.

Here are his thoughts eighth day into the trip –

“The last 8 days have changed my life forever. I came to Granada, Nicaragua expecting to take a ton of photographs and help teach the children of   Empowerment International photography. Simple right? Not so much. Little did I know what really awaited us here on the ground. I did not expect to establish such a personal bond with children who live completely opposite lives of most of the people reading my words now (as well as myself) are used to. We don’t speak the same language. Most of our communication doesn’t require us to speak the same language. The connection we have made transcends language.

They let us into their homes, which for about 70% of the local population, is nothing more than a couple of dilapidated walls, and some very old cots that the family members share. These families make no more than a couple of dollars a day, and the children, when not in school, are usually working for the family, trying to bring in that one extra dollar that might just help them buy more rice for tomorrow’s dinner. Most people who visit Granada, Nicaragua will see the beautiful churches, the Old Spanish Colonial buildings, and the street markets. They will never see the real Granada. The Granada that is filled with amazing people, who, despite not having any luxuries a lot of us enjoy, still value family, friends, their heritage and are proud of who they are, despite what they do not have.

When I finally leave, I will think of these children, this city, and these people everyday for the rest of my life. They have made such an impact on who I want to become as a person. They will make me think twice before I complain about my ‘problems’ back in the United States. The only problem I have now is that I do not get to spend every day of my life with the children who have changed me forever.”

Michael and Jeaneth

Michael Bonocore and 19 years old student Jeaneth from EI.  Photo by Melissa Palomo

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never finish 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us 

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