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100 Strangers

Me: Tall, cool, and fond of words like "turpitude" - as in "women of immoral turpitude are not welcome in this facility" - as reads a sign I once encountered in the dodgiest of hotels in the streets of Dar es Salaam.

My project: 100 Strangers photo project. www.lemien.ca. Selfish in its immediate benefits (i.e., me, taking photos some might call "good" - and really, don't we all love to be gushed about?) but paradoxically mind-shifting in the whole 'getting people to see themselves as strangers do' sense.

The real reason I'm doing it: Bilateral cleft lip and palate and kids in developing countries who don't get the fully-subsidized life-altering plastic surgery spoiled brats like me get. Call it karma.

Or else, call it a continuation of efforts undertaken to pay it forward; Back at Queen's, they gave me a doo-hickey in part for an extracurricular fundraiser I did for Operation Rainbow Canada, who performs surgery on kids around the world, while training local doctors to provide interim care where possible.

This time, I want more. Enough to fund a good portion of one of their missions. Enough to feel grateful for the doctors who have helped me. Enough to justify the agonizing catharsis of dealing with peoples' photo-related fears and insecurities while the heavy weight of self-indulgence screams "selfish ingrate" every time I fire that shutter.

Just enough.

Fondos becados por Ottawa, ON (January 2011)