Photography, Betty Udesen
Text, Emily Greenleaf

Photojournalist Betty Udesen and writer & musician Emily Greenleaf have made three trips to Colombia together as part of this project, in 2002, 2003, and 2006. The team put together an exhibit of a selection of Betty's photos from these trips. The thirty-one photographs in this gallery are excerpted from this larger collection.

Over the course of our trips to the Balsita Community, we've seen many changes: they’ve built houses, school buildings and a sugar processing plant; they’ve transitioned from primarily growing subsistence crops to cash crops such as passion fruit and squash; we've met the newest members of the community–the babies born since our first visit–and seen children grow into young adults; we've also mourned the passing of beloved elders.

In their March 2002 Newsletter Messages of Dignity, the community describes our first visit:

From the moment they arrived, they were taking pictures of our every step, and of all aspects of our work–the hen house, pigsty, bean fields, houses, young children playing, the youths, children studying, and of each of us working at whatever task we were doing that moment. They also listened to our words, our truth.

We are very grateful to the community for opening their lives to us, for all they have taught us and shared with us.