For one difficult night in Nicaragua, Jessica Lee broke down. “I felt like I didn’t deserve all that I had,” Lee said. “Why these kids? Why do they have nothing? Why didn’t I have the answers?”
The kids she was thinking about were 16 girls, age 5 to 18, who had been rescued from life in the massive Chureca garbage dump. More than 2,000 people live and scavenge in the landfill. Generations of families have lived in this wasteland. In some cases, young girls are offered as sexual bribes to the dump truck drivers in order for first pickings of the truck’s contents.
Lee, then a junior psychology major and Richter Scholar, went with a group of students and psychology professor Kelly Chang in May 2009 to research the girls’ general and spiritual well being. Their findings helped prompt the rescue home to hire a psychologist to work with the girls every week.
Lee, now a student in the George Fox Doctor of Psychology program, was able to present the research at the International Positive Psychology Association and the Christian Association for Psychological Studies conferences.
“This was the biggest opportunity,” Lee said. “It was definitely an amazing experience. People all around the world have it a lot worse than us. It puts your life in perspective.”
Dominique Berhó seems destined for a life of cross-cultural engagement. As a child, he frequently traveled through South America with his parents to visit his father’s home country of Chile and grew up speaking fluent Spanish. Berhó, a senior international studies major and gifted photographer, spent a semester last year in Bolivia. His internship project was to build an image database of photos for a center for the impoverished elderly that was begun by an Oregon couple. He also took free family portraits for the town’s citizens, many of whom had never seen professional photography equipment.
Berhó is now helping raise awareness – and funds – for Pure Hope Pakistan to help the millions of people affected by devastating floods.
Watch our video interview with Berhó about his work in Bolivia, his efforts to help Pakistan and his remarkable photography. You can see samples of his photos at anambitiousseed.tumblr.com.