A picture is worth a thousand words to a orphan who has none

Did you ever really think a picture is worth a thousand words? Well, they might be if pictures were a luxury you never had around.

Television news programs are typically comprised of an endless array of negative story lines, which bring down even the most optimistic of souls. Even the weather report can be cause for anxiety at times.

Beloved neighbor Fred Rogers once said that “The media shows the tiniest percentage of what people do. There are millions and millions of people doing wonderful things all over the world, and they’re generally not the ones being touted in the news.”

Back in 2006, CBS news featured a story about “people doing wonderful things.” It was titled “Precious Images Give Orphans Hope” – the story of how one man’s compassion has forever altered children all over the world with nothing more than a self-portrait.

When I finished watching the program and after doing a little digging online, I was able to find out what “The Memory Project” and founder Ben Schumaker was all about.

I’d wager that most homes have an overstuffed drawer or unlabeled box filled with mountains of family photographs. The first day of school, vacations, the junior prom, baby pictures, holiday gatherings, and the list goes on and on.

For many of us we often forget these treasures even exist – unless of course it’s time to show your new girlfriend or boyfriend how you looked in the 1st grade.  But what we fail to realize is the profound representation photographs have on our lives. Each photograph ignites a memory that we still can recall as if it happened only yesterday. They’re our history, our past and even our future -and while many of them spend their lives hidden away in darkness, we all know where they live when we’re ready for a trip down memory lane.

Now imagine yourself an orphan. The pages of your life are filled with empty white spaces containing no clues or indications of where you come from. Nothing to compare where you might have inherited those deep green eyes or the dimples on either side of your smile. If you weren’t living and breathing, one might not know you ever existed at all. Suddenly that changes the way you think about a picture is worth a thousand words.

“The Memory Project” is looking to change all that. Their website states it best: “In our Memory Portraits program, highly skilled art students create original portraits for children living in orphanages around the world. Given that children who have been abandoned, neglected, abused or orphaned usually have few personal keepsakes, the purpose of the portraits is to provide them with a special memory of their youth and to help honor their heritage and identity.”

These aren’t professional artists typically featured in popular museums, but every day high school and even college students who are dedicating their time and their talent for an incredibly worth cause.

If you could only see how thankful these children were to have received what many would consider unimportant. An everlasting gift from an unknown friend that will forever immortalize their lives and say to the world “I was here.” I guess a picture is worth a thousand words.

Good things ARE in fact happening around us today. While they might not be newsworthy enough for a nation that thrives on turmoil and tabloid headlines, it does remind us that, “the media shows the tiniest percentage of what people do.”

For more information on “The Memory Project” visit their website at www.thememoryproject.org.