In November of last year I was invited to take photographs of children whose families are innocent victims of violence throughout Colombia and have had to flee their former homes or farms with simply the clothes on their backs. Not knowing what to expect or having any knowledge of what I was going to encounter on this journey into the mountains high above Medellin, Colombia I merely thought it was an opportunity to take photos of children living in poverty. I would discover another purpose once I arrived to a place called El Pinar. The journey into the mountains where the displaced families live would take me through a dangerous area of Medellin where there is currently a gang war and would not be safe to travel without a knowledgeable guide. My guide and new found friend on this photo exploration would be, Marcos. Marcos has been volunteering for a school called Leon XIII in El Pinar, Colombia for the past 5 years; he started a program called Angeles de Medellin which raises money for food, medicine, computers, books or anything that the children need. During the hour trek into the mountains Marcos gave me the complete history and story of how these displaced people from all over Colombia have made El Pinar their new home. The government has given land to the displaced people of Colombia and over the past five years there are approximately 7,500 people living in the area. Once I arrived at the school Leon XIII my heart dropped; it was the most humbling experience of my life. The sad story of the lives of these children and things that they have had to witness shocked me, but the smiles and laughter from the children told me another story. What started as a selfish photo exploration got my mind racing as to how I could contribute to Angeles de Medellin. I could contribute by taking photographs and making a video that would help Marcos bring more awareness to the lives at this corner of the earth. Since November 2010 I have made four trips into the mountains with Marcos. Each time I visit I photograph and share my portraits with Marcos; I now have decided that this will be an ongoing project for me. Every opportunity I get I want to visit the kids of Leon XIII and brainstorm new ways in which my craft can help make a difference in their lives. It's good to have projects that help boost your career as a photographer; it's even better to have projects that could possibly change the lives of others. Visit Angelesdemedellin.com and drop Marcos a line if you find the story of Angeles de Medellin interesting. Mikey.

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