‘You Were Here’: Charity’s Photographic Gifts Provide Lifetime Memories

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s estimated the average American will take 25,000 selfies in their lifetime. For many of us our smart phones are our picture albums.

But for so many in impoverished countries, photos are hard to come by.

Ceallaigh Smart’s been working overseas in Africa for years as a consultant. It was her job to document the adventures.

“Every time I travel, there are many children that want to see the back of my camera or on my phone, and it’s great that I have that picture of my trip and these beautiful people, but at some point I was like why do I have this picture, why don’t you have this picture,” Smart said.

Now, thousands of kids do, thanks to the charity she started in 2015 — Print the Love. They travel to countries in need and hand out one Polaroid photo to every person they meet.

“They just don’t have the means to have a  photograph taken of their family or given to their family. They don’t have school pictures. So it’s really, really cool to just say that you were important to the earth, you were here, this is something personal,” Smart said.

It’s not just children they reach, they take photos of new moms with their babies. They visit hospice patients and take snapshots so their families can remember them forever.

Ceallaigh’s husband Stephen captured video of these moments in Nepal.

“I went, ‘Wow.’ It just completely brought these people together, and brought this immediate joy into their lives and it was completely at random, they had no clue that that was coming,” Stephen Smart said.

Their next trip is in March to Bolivia. They hope to take 12,000 more shots.

“It just keeps growing and growing and I think people are just really excited about the idea, but also that loving other people doesn’t have to be complicated,” Ceallaigh Smart said.

A simple mission — making every picture perfect.

Print the Love also has a program where anyone traveling abroad can borrow a camera and share photos with people in need.  With the cost of travel and film, it costs Print the Love about $5 to take each photo.

Their goal is to raise $2,500. If you’d like to help, click here.

More from Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield
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