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Sweat dripped from my forehead. The humid Delhi air was almost as stifling as the crowds.
I wandered through the Old Delhi spice market, trying not to gag on the overwhelming smells. Cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, chili powder, curries beyond number and incense, burning in almost every stall to mask the smell of dumpsters full of rotting garbage.
It was overwhelming, to say the least.
As I walked from vendor to vendor, eyes wide at the sheer variety of goods in the market, I began to get lightheaded. Worried that I might pass out if I stayed there much longer, I started back home.
I walked onto the bustling street, lifted my tiny camera above my head and snapped my last photo of the day.
The shutter clicked and the LCD display flicked on. I looked at the picture I had just taken.
“Huh,” I thought, “Not too bad.”
It was my first genuinely good photo. Unbeknownst to me, World Next Door had just been born.
A New Purpose
It was the fall of 2008. I was halfway through my three-month stay in India. The idea for World Next Door was little more than a few sketches in a notebook. Literally days after coming up with the idea for a “social justice travel magazine,” I decided I needed to get some practice.
That’s why my little visit to the spice market was so significant. It was the first time I had ever gone to a new place or had a new experience for the purpose of getting people back home engaged with the world.
You see, at the time, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had received zero training in journalism, had never picked up a dSLR camera and didn’t know where to begin when it came to starting a non-profit.
I had written a lot for my personal blog, taken a few snapshots with my point-and-shoot camera, etc., but as for how to do real journalism? I didn’t have a clue.
So I struck out into unfamiliar territory, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone a bit and tried to capture what the world is like beyond the suburbs of America. Not for me, but for you.
Four and a half years later, I’m still figuring things out as I go along. Sure, I’ve learned a thing or two about photography, written countless articles and told a million new stories since that day in the spice market, but I can never forget how it felt to begin looking at the world through this new lens.
And now, as we head into this new season of World Next Door, I am unabashedly excited. I don’t know what God has next for this ministry, but I have to say… if what grew out of that simple photograph is any indication, we’re in for a wild ride!
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.