I love giving gifts.  One of my all time favorite things to see is the look on someone’s face who receives a completely unexpected present.  The surprise, the joy, the giddiness… Let’s just say it makes my day.

Well thanks to you, the readers of World Next Door, I was able to experience just that… when Marika got her very first camera.

The Marika Project

A little over a week ago, I wrote about a remarkable little girl at Mission to Ukraine who seemed to have a real talent for photography.  Her name was Marika.  Although blind in one eye due to a tumor when she was an infant, she radiates joy and life everywhere she goes.

Marika, a very talented little girl! (photo by Amy Gentry)

Watching her take pictures with my camera gave me the idea of giving used digital cameras to some of the kids at MTU’s summer camps to get their perspective on the week.  The plan is to post their best pictures here on World Next Door at the end of the summer so that you can share in their point of view.

Marika with her very first camera. (photo by Krystallin Baker)

I called the idea “The Marika Project,” and now it has officially begun!

The First Camera

Since posting the article, we have had four cameras donated (one of which has already made it to Ukraine!).  So, a few days after camp began, I presented Marika with her very first digital camera.

For someone like me who loves giving gifts, it was heaven.

After I placed the camera in her hand, Marika was stunned.  For a second, she couldn’t even look at the camera she was so surprised.  Her mother, standing behind her, was completely blown away.

Of course, for an outgoing girl like Marika, it only took a few moments before the shock wore off.  Within minutes, she was snapping pictures like she’d been doing it for years.  People, buildings, flowers… I can’t wait to see her pictures when the week is through!

I’ll continue to keep you posted as the other cameras are given out. And there is still a bit more time for those of you interested in donating your camera (see below for more info).

For now, enjoy the video of Marika getting her very first camera!


If you would like to participate in the Marika Project, please sign up below. We’ll be in touch with you soon with more details.

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. Jim.M said... 


    July 6th, 2010 at 7:35 am  

    Very Cool! Can’t wait to see Marika’s photos! More than that, can’t wait to here what she says about each photo. Children are natural storytellers, they see things that are hidden from us. We may be quite surprised when we see things from her point of view.
    Barry, this has been a wonderful series!

  2. Jonathan Pomazon said... 


    July 6th, 2010 at 10:08 am  

    How incredibly cool! Equally impressive is her mother’s reaction (you can see in the early part of the video). Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us – I posted it on my Facebook account in hopes others will see as well.

  3. Lindsay Helmbock said... 


    July 6th, 2010 at 1:13 pm  

    looooove it… what a fabulous idea! too bad there’s not a language function/option on digital cameras. looks like she’s a natural though. I don’t have any extra cameras laying around, but I’ll be on the lookout for some people looking for a creative way to recycle theirs. can’t wait to see what beauty there is from Marika’s perspective… thanks Barry!

  4. Dave Rod said... 


    July 7th, 2010 at 10:56 am  

    Can’t wait to see the world through Marika’s perspective!

  5. Rob Yonan said... 


    July 10th, 2010 at 5:25 pm  

    That smile! Well, you know what they say about the worth of a picture? Yep, a thousand words and more. One of those words? Priceless.

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