I was so glad to be able to bring you all to my home in India, and especially to my school, SEEschool. It’s the most magical place I’ve been. Though they have so little, they are the happiest children you could meet, grateful for every kindness, thrilled to be able to learn. A handshake sends them into fits of giggles, a pencil is a treasured possession. They’re learning not only how to improve their own lives, but skills to help uplift their entire community, and many have brought literacy to their less fortunate siblings who are still working in fields and factories.
I was fortunate to grow up in a palace, and although I had friends who were street kids, I couldn’t conceive of their poverty. Moving to the West, my family lost everything, and for a few years we struggled to survive. When at 18 I returned to trek around India, I was devastated to see all the suffering. I saved up my earnings and founded the school in order to empower lives. My aged father gave up his comfortable retirement in Canada to help our cause. He lived without electricity or running water and went door-to-door asking parents to give at least one of their kids a chance, while hoping to find a group of teachers to share our vision.
Little did we realize that the school would change our lives as much as the lives of those whom we helped. I went from a lonely little model drifting aimlessly around the world to an artist charged with purpose, having hundreds of people depending upon me to help provide them with a future. Knowing how hard they all work to improve their world keeps me working 20-hour days and gives me the courage to overcome my shyness, to fight for what I believe in. Through his work with the children, my father regained his youthfulness and eventually married his best friend, the headmistress. The success of both the school and my art gives me so much satisfaction, which helps me handle the most difficult situations at work with ease. I am so thankful to be able to have love as the prime motivator in all I do. The school is my greatest joy, my secret life source, the peace of paradise that I am fortunate to carry with me everywhere I go. Empowering others can be your source of fulfillment too. Join us at www.SEEschool.org.
I always dreamed of bringing Markus to India, and now GK, for the most important shoot of our lives: to photograph the children at the school for a fundraising campaign and to artistically explore the ruins of my home. I believed these experiences would help us all to grow together. But it seemed instead this trip would tear us apart!