2013
01.07

This year will mark the 10-year anniversary of my visit to the Fiji Islands, a fateful journey which would forever change the course of my life.  I was 22 years old, on my first journey abroad, when I picked up an elderly woman and her grandson hitchhiking on the island of Viti Levu.  They invited to me stay and live in their village and for several weeks I experienced the incredible hospitality of the Fijian people as I lived among them.  It was during that time that I discovered the true wonders of travel and dedicated my life to becoming a travel writer and photographer so that I could share with others the experiences that had touched me so deeply.  Though I had come to Fiji only for an adventure, it was the education I received from the people of Semo village that would forever define the path of my life.

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This year, Rachel and I will be returning to the Fiji Islands to revisit my friends and family at Semo village and celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that very special visit.  Undoubtedly, much has changed since I stood on the roadside, wishing goodbye to hundreds of Fijian villagers while I stood draped in traditional clothing with a face covered in baby powder at the end of a 2-day farewell celebration.  I have grown from a naive kid, full of youthful enthusiasm and a thirst for adventure, to a grown man with a decade of experience behind me, having seen and experienced more than that young kid could have ever dreamed.  There will be those in the village who have passed; and many more that have grown from wide-eyed children to teenagers and even adults.  It will be a time of remembering and rejoicing; and if my first visit was an indicator of what is to come, I am certain that it will be an unforgettable event.

After publication of my first travel article, “Living A Dream in the South Pacific“, I received an outpouring of support for the people of Semo village.  Many who read the story were moved by the incredible generosity and hospitality that the Fijian people had shown to me.  Family, friends, and strangers stepped forward to offer donations of basic goods, such as clothing, toys and toiletries.  Others made financial donations which assisted in the reconstruction of damaged homes and buildings, including the local church.  These small donations made a big difference for the people of Semo village, from the children who reveled in new clothing and toys to the elderly who benefited from basic medicines and reading glasses, greatly enhancing their quality of life.

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As we prepare to return to Semo village at the end of March, we would like to reach out to our extended network of friends, family, and followers and appeal to those who might have an interest in offering donations that we could bring to Semo village.  We will be posting a list of basic items which would be greatly appreciated and would help provide for those in need.  We are not asking anyone to go out and make purchases, but if you have items such as clothing (for all ages) that you would be interested in donating, please feel free to contact me at kyle@kylehammons.com to make arrangements for donation.

On a more creative note, we are hoping to gather a number of used cameras to donate to the children of Semo and surrounding villages.  This is a project of special interest to me, as I have seen children across the world respond in incredible ways when given this simple tool to express their creativity and capture the world around them (as seen in the Academy Award-winning documentary Born Into Brothels).  Our idea is to bring a collection of used digital cameras, teach them the very basics, and let the children document our return to Semo village through their eyes.  This will give us a unique opportunity to document our experience and the celebration that takes place, while also providing a source of creativity and inspiration for the young people involved.

Please don’t feel the need to go out and make any purchases.  We’re just looking for used cameras (preferably digital) which you might have replaced or stopped using.  We’re not picky about the quality or condition, just so long as they are still functional.  We will be updating this post with more details in the coming weeks, but please feel free to contact us if you are interested in helping out in any way.  We greatly appreciate your help and support and we will be happy to consider any donations that might be appropriate.  Thanks again!

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Contact Info

Kyle Hammons

kyle@kylehammons.com

303.809.5018

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