Standing back, watching personalities emerge with glee, I studied each child. Under the humid August summer in Lagos, Nigeria, they were playing a pickup game of soccer in the little dusty yard of the orphanage. I remembered a few faces – older and leaner – and spotted a couple new ones, eagerly trying to fit in yet with trepidation.

Sometimes, the concept of support seems so foreign. Like it must be done outside of one’s own circumstances and world for it to truly count. Often, I think of Jorge in Ecuador and Sthephany in the Dominic Republic, what their daily lives entail, and dreams of going to visit them someday.

Until I sought out Mercy Home and fell in love with some of the brightest children I’ve ever met, looking inwards into my hometown seemed like an afterthought…

Children in true need meant visions of despair in different countries on different continents. The tiny grassroots organization, C.H.I.E.F, run by my mother supports 65 other orphans in impoverished communities close to the lagoon. In many ways, I know my calling lies in this work.

There are so many children with boundless talents yet with no opportunities to show the world their genius. I hope this will ultimately become a cause of mine via a photojournalism project  – uncovering the many talents of some of the most impoverished children and giving them voices.

As we rang in the new year, I wondered what the Mercies did and if they saw it as one new year closer to their dreams.

There are so many children that need us right in our own cities and towns. This year, why not seek out children and organizations you could readily get involved with on a more personal basis?

Don’t know where to start? is an excellent resource.

As I compile travel plans this year, excitement courses through me. The familiar pang of wanderlust coupled with something much deeper. I am looking forward to spending lazy Sundays playing soccer, painting, and sharing  geography with the Mercies this summer.