Travel Photos: Cuba

. Posted by Sherrie Thai by Shaireproductions.com .

Here is my full photo album on SMUGMUG HERE

cuba travel street photography portraits by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Beautiful Cuban Smiles, Street Portraits

cuban travel photography by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Havana, Vintage Ride in Revolution Square

cuban travel photography by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Havana, Las Terrazas, Santiago

cuban travel photography, blue vintage car by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Blue Vintage Car in Cojimar

Cuba!!! Rich in passion, culture, vibrancy and art.

I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to see the lovely architecture of Old Havana with the amazing vintage cars driving by. In the evening, I caught a Cuban jazz show with the Buena Vista Social Club 🙂

cuban travel photography by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Local Afro-Cuban music and dance performance

cuban travel photography, cuban statue by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Stunning sculpture at the Columbus Cemetary

On a tropically rainy day, I visited the Colon (Columbus) Cemetary and learned more of Santeria (Way of the Saints). Local legend at the cemetary: “La Milagrosa”, or Amelia, a local woman who died in childbirth along with her child, was visited everyday by her heart-broken husband, knocked on the tomb to console himself, believing she was only asleep; years later, her body was exhumed (for reburial) and witnesses said that her body remained intact and her body position moved, where she held her child in her arms–Amelia then became a symbol of hope and love; everyday, locals visit her grave and ask for blessings/ wishes, while decorating her site with flowers and gifts.

cuban travel photography, las terrazas  by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Quiet town of Las Terrazas

Las Terrazas had a quiet beauty, with lush green surroundings and a taste of the small town life. Along the way, I met a few Cuban artists and visited their studios.

cuban travel photography,cojimar building by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Cojimar: Grungy Coolness

Cojimar was where Hemingway wrote his famous literary masterpieces. The town has a distinct seafarer personality, with the architecture and decor reflecting the romantic carefree attitude.

cuban travel Maradero photography by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Mantanzas, Varadero

Veradero was an exquisite beach paradise, though seemed very exclusive.

cuban travel photography,santiago church  by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Santiago: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption

cuban travel photography,santiago church  by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Santiago: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Interior

cuban travel photography,santiago castle fort by sherrie thai of shaire productions
Santiago: San Pedro de la Roca Castle Fortress

Several months later, I came back to Cuba on my way to help out in the Dominican Republic, and passed through Santiago, saw the San Pedro de la Roca Castle, a mighty UNESCO fortress, and the lovely Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption in the downtown area. Pride and passion of the Cuban people seeps into all facets of life.

VISIT> My Travel Photos of CUBA

Wine to Water, Dominican Republic: Water Filter Project

. Posted by Sherrie Thai by Shaireproductions.com .

Wine to Water Dominican Republic Water Filter Project, Photos by Sherrie Thai of Shaireproductions.com

I was very happy and humbled to have had the opportunity to participate in the WINE TO WATER project in the Dominican Republic to help create water filters for the local community (on the 22nd Fathom Impact Trip). Wine to Water is a non-profit organization focused on providing clean water to people around the world. Headquartered in North Carolina, the organization has locations in Africa, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Amazon and Nepal. They utilize local materials: Sawdust, Clay, Charcoal and ship in Liquid Silver to act as a filtration for the rainwater, contaminated local streams, and rivers.

You can find the complete documentary photos HERE (all photos from this series are available for free download from Smugmug)

In the Dominican Republic, nearly 1/3 of the population do not have clean water available. The average income per household is $150 a month, and many times, bottled water needs to be purchased at $1 each. With an average family of five, funds are tight and many diseases arise from contaminated water. I found out about Wine to Water’s amazing project and wanted to help. Here are a few of the wonderful volunteers and workers at the Wine to Water factory in the D.R:

Wine to Water Dominican Republic Water Filter Project, Volunteers, Photos by Sherrie Thai of Shaireproductions.com

The factory is simple but effective. The production of the water filters takes place in 3 main parts: Sifting and mixing the sawdust and clay together to form clay (analog style, dusty hard work!), Shaping the filters by hand and machine, and Firing the dried filters in the kiln. With my group, we helped to create 28 water filters, amounting to about a 100 people helped. Yay!

Wine to Water Dominican Republic Water Filter Project, Factory, Photos by Sherrie Thai of Shaireproductions.com

Producing water filters is an arduous but fulfilling task. The physical work humbles you and makes you grateful for the fact that living in a first world country, you don’t have to worry about the source of the water, if it would make you sick when you drink it, how you will get the water, where would you go to find it, or how much of it you could afford. However, I’m glad to have found a great organization like Wine to Water that helps communities in need and works with them to ensure that the filters work properly.

Wine to Water Dominican Republic Water Filter Project, Production Process, Photos by Sherrie Thai of Shaireproductions.com

After placing the clay filters on racks to be dried, we took another batch of completed filters to a small village in the DR. We met with the community leaders and local families at the community center to distribute the water filters. There was a nearby creek which unfortunately, was polluted with trash (bottom photo)–a reminder of how necessary these water filters are. Through Entrena and Fathom Facilitators, Frank and Francisco, the families were educated on how to care for and utilize the clay filters. The families contribute small funds to help pay for the filters; WtoW found that in general, people became more personally invested in the filters and cared for them better.

With my limited Spanish, I was only able to introduce myself to the families and mumbled where I was from, but the handshake and smiles were met with warm and grateful faces, where words weren’t necessary; it was a very heartfelt and beautiful moment I was pleased to be a part of.

If you’d like to help out, you can visit the WINE TO WATER site to donate or volunteer 🙂

DOCUMENTARY PHOTO ALBUM if interested. Thanks for reading–Cheers!

Wine to Water Dominican Republic Water Filter Project, Community, Photos by Sherrie Thai of Shaireproductions.com