Sunday, November 8, 2020

An interview I did recently with the team at We are Human As

Hey friends! I’m so excited to share with you an interview I did with the beautiful team at We are Human As. In this interview I share a little bit about our adoption journey, my job as a humanitarian photographer and storyteller and three photos that are really meaningful to me. Photos taken on the field for Tearfund, Compassion, Medical Teams International and World Vision. There are a few tears at the end but I know you’ll understand why.. Love to hear your thoughts - please do comment below! Watch the full interview here

Much love to you all! Xo

Sunday, May 3, 2020

The surprise Mothers Day photoshoot we did last week!

Hey friends!

It was such an honour to be a part of this years Mothers Day campaign for Saben - New Zealand’s premium leather handbag and accessories label. 

Below are a few photos from the shoot but here is a link to the full blog on their site.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

A love letter to Uganda

 Dear Uganda, 

Ten years ago, Tim and I touched down for the very first time here in The Pearl of Africa. We were wide-eyed, excited, na├»ve, ready to learn and keen to experience all your beautiful country had to offer. After an initial 5 month volunteer stint we headed back to New Zealand promising to each other that we’d come back to live in 3 years’ time. We moved here indefinitely in January 2014 and have been here ever since. In a couple of days, we’ll be leaving to move back to New Zealand. I want, and, quite frankly, need, to process some of those feelings with you.

If I’m honest, I’d tell you that before I moved to Uganda I thought I would be “giving up a lot”. Missionary/aid worker style. “Sacrificing” a lot. And in some ways I was. But in most ways I wasn’t.

I thought I was giving up my lovely house in New Zealand. Instead, you and God gave us the best house we could ever have wished for complete with a huge yard – perfect for our growing brood of children. Speaking of children, I thought I was giving up my chance to have children. And yet literally weeks after arriving in country our paths intersected with the most precious little girl who went on to become our daughter. Later on a son followed.  I thought I was giving up my dream job and yet somehow the jobs we both have right now are the best thing ever. We thought we were giving up a wonderful group of friends that deeply cared about us and had known us decades. Instead, we found  those relationships continued to grow albeit across the oceans! And an equally special group of friends came into our lives and walked side by side with us through our toughest seasons yet.  

We thought we were giving up our families. And that one, we were. For the last six years our families have patiently and graciously waited on the sidelines watching through Facebook and Facetime and once yearly visits to see their grandchildren and us in the same room. 

I thought I was giving up shopping. And I was. But, instead I found ways to “manage”. Working with local artisans to create beautiful goods, getting down on my hands and knees to rummage through second hand piles at the downtown markets, going to Dubai once a year to get my “fix” and being a regular at expat garage sales. Best yet though was realising that simplicity and minimalism are my new MO (modus operandi) and I don’t need that stuff to make me happy.  In saying that, I’m really looking forward to hitting up Kmart when I’m back in NZ. Hey, I’m being honest, right?

Of course there’s been challenging times too. The rat in my bed wrapped around Eva’s head drinking milk that had fallen onto the foam mattress. The countless snakes. The police that pull us over looking for bribes. Getting pneumonia and malaria. The power company we have on speed dial because EVERY. SINGLE. DANG. WEEK there’s an issue. The water company that constantly likes to turn off water when we have large numbers of people over for a party. The burglars that stole from us. The people that scammed us. The lies we’ve been told. Immigration dramas, roads that put your neck out they’re so bumpy and pollution levels so high its dangerous to go outside.  You’ve legit driven me crazy sometimes. Often times.

But all of that is NOTHING in comparison to what you’ve given  me.  My babies. My incredible friends. The grandmother to my children, (Jane, our househelper), Opportunities to serve people in big and small ways.  The best Indian (ironic, I know) food in the world. A community of people we absolutely adore.

Uganda, (and I’m crying now), thank you. Thank you for giving me some of the best years of my life to date. You are the reason I became a Mother. There is nothing I can do to repay you for that. All three of my children have danced on your soil and grown up under your sun and leant to walk and talk on the mis-matched tiled floors of this beautiful home. 
In just a few short days the time will come to put a full stop on our time here. Our son, Maz needs to have a significant heart operation and we know just the place to help – New Zealand. It’ll be the tenth time I’ve moved internationally and the 11th time Tim has. We’re ready to put down some roots for a while.

But we’ll be back to visit I promise.  Tim’s here for a work visit twice next year and I’ll be touching down again around May.  We hope to bring the kids back in a few years too. Because there’s nowhere quite like Uganda. Nowhere.

With all our love and affection,
Tim, Helen, Hope, Eva and Maz

Friday, February 14, 2020

Kampala Life Hacks:

Our family lived in Uganda for 6 years -  so as my parting gift I thought it might be helpful to open up our little black book of contacts. Please note, this information is current as at February 2020.

American Food – Verity Stores in Bugolobi is a fabulous place to go for American treats.  Plot 10-12 Mulwana Road, Industrial Area, Kampala 0750 324 627 or
Artists –
I love supporting local artists that do beautiful work. Two I’ve worked with on multiple pieces are Mahony 0752543136 and Ricky 0782704083 or 0701033068
Beauty – Beatrice does waxing 0772 471 385 and Rona does eyelash extensions 0778 444 386.

Canvas Prints –
Decorating your home in Kampala is challenging at the best of times. Kenneth 0782 369 828 is the best person to print anything you need onto canvas. He also prints photographs. His email Is  and he delivers.
Clothes – It’s hard to find clothes for yourself and kids in Kampala. If you don’t want to rummage through bargains at a local market I can recommend Sarah at Kampala Dresses who scouts Owino for you and sells the dresses at 30k each. You can find her on Facebook. Chloe’s Closet  0784 814 748 is the best one to go to for high end designer ware.  And in a pinch I visit Mr. Price at Acacia Mall or Pep in Kabalagala.
Counselling Services – Tumaini Kampala
– Robert is on time, reliable and charges a fair price 90k from Kansanga to the Airport. He’s also picked me up from Tanzania before and driven me back. Day rate should be 200k. 0772 439 870
Doctors – Our entire family uses The Clinic at Bugolobi Village Mall 0392 177 283 . If the issue is for a child under 2 I would highly recommend Doctor Michael at Nakasero Annex.
– The best florist in town is 1921 Lifestyle 0772 419 295. They deliver and import their gorgeous flowers and are the next level up if you’re looking for something better than the 10k variety at the supermarket.  
Framing –Kenneth (mentioned under canvas) does framing but you can also contact Tagaframe or visit their workshop in Kismenti. Taga Nuwagaba, 0772 500 286 or
Food – For the best donuts and cinnamon rolls you need to know about Simply Donuts. You can find them on Facebook. They deliver. If you need apples or absolutely delicious spaghetti sauce, Jane Mutesi is your go to girl. 0777 358 437. For the best Indian food, it’s got to be Khazana Verandah in Muyenga. For the best steak it’s Cantina Divino in Kololo.
Fumigation – We use Eco Nation 0774 623 044
Furniture Maker  - Our huge black couch was made by Didas Kamugisha , Namuwongo 0782171789 or 0705586755
Glass Guy – Kaja makes drinking glasses out of old wine bottles. They are 4-5k each compared to 10k at Good Glass. His “store” is next to Prifare on Kiwafu Road. 0793383829.
Gymanstics – Ben is a wonderful coach. He comes to our home during the school holidays and does lessons for the kids.  10-15k each. 0776548399.
Hairdresser – Erika at Mirror Salon is fabulous at cutting every type of hair. Her salon on Tank Hill is relaxing and peaceful. 0785 528 294. Approximately 70-80k for a wash, cut, blow dry
Masseuse – Bosco is the BEST massage/physio therapist I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. 0752 263 227. He comes to your home with his own table – you provide the towels/sheets and it’s 80k for an hour of getting those knots out and leaving you healthier than when you began.
Mosquito Net –
Wilbur specialises in gorgeous safari style tie up mosquito nets. They are expensive but they are beautiful – 0785 231 157.
– Marvin has been great to our family. 0777140900.
- For live music there’s no one better than Herbet Ssensamba  - 0702 457 125
Pedicure – Bishop is HANDS DOWN the best pedicure man in the city! He comes to your house, brings all the items he needs and is clean, tidy and calm to work with. 0777028683.
Playground –
Our kids are obsessed with Prifare on Kiwafu Road in Kansanga. 0781706543.
– Karibu Media specialises in family photographs (they also do interiors, schools, NGO etc) and do a fabulous job. 0773 320 625
Rugs – Villa Kololo (Kismenti) and Mr Price (Acacia Mall)
Ugandan Hair – We love Prossy, she comes to the house, does my daughters hair in braids or twists and charges a fair price.  0774338709.
Wood Engraver – Jude - 0392886526 or 0772 459 129

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Our home in Uganda - Homestyle Magazine

Earlier this year the amazing team at Homestyle Magazine asked if we would open the doors of our home in Uganda to their readers. Of course, the answer was yes!

You can read the beautiful story and see the images here. 
But if you just want to see some of my favorite photos of our home, I've popped them down below for you. Much love, Helen

Monday, October 21, 2019

Our family is moving

Lately we’ve been a little quiet on social media and that’s because we’ve been processing some big life decisions! Namely, our family is moving back to New Zealand this Christmas.

Why? Three reasons:

1) We found out earlier this year that our son, Maz, needs to have open heart surgery for multiple issues he has with his heart/lungs. This was a surprise for us and really hard to hear. We’ve been thinking lots, praying hard and weighing up the different options for months. Finally, we ended up landing on moving back to Auckland, New Zealand - indefinitely.

2) Both of our jobs recently offered us roles back in NZ starting Jan 2020. Tim has accepted an offer with Tutapona that will see him as the Vice President of Global Programs for Tutapona. He will be overseeing the Country Directors/Project managers in Uganda, Iraq and Lebanon as well as developing Tutapona’s Australasia funding base. I will be working part time at Tearfund leading their Creative Team and still doing humanitarian photography/storytelling.

3) All up, we’ve been living in Uganda for a total of 6 years. If we were to include Dubai, it’d be 7 years overseas. Not to mention that Tim and I both spent the majority of our childhood years overseas (him in Africa and me in the USA and Australia). Both of us noticed when we went home this Christmas that things were maybe starting to “shift” in us. Can I be really honest? The wear and tear of living apart from family and our community back in NZ was taxing us. The challenges of living in a developing country that was not our “home” were starting to show. Higher than healthy stress levels, irritations over little things and building frustration. Neither of us would ever want to leave Uganda bitter or resentful. So we accepted these promptings as little signposts that perhaps a change was coming. We want to leave how we feel now. Deeply grateful, in love with this country and her people but also excited for a new chapter. Not burnt-out or cynical. Just a feeling, backed up with many heartfelt prayers that our season here is coming to a close and the timing feels right.

How are we feeling?

Mixed. Really mixed. Sad to leave the country that has given us so much. Our babies, dream jobs, an unbelievably rich in friendship community. Our beautiful home, a fabulous school, a wonderful church and a lifestyle that means daily in-person chats with your besties is a given. Weather that delights us and a perspective on poverty that haunts us.

Also, super excited to have our families and close friends in NZ get to know our kids and to be able to make everyday memories together. Excited for good food, malls, and beaches. Excited for a change but grateful we get to keep the biggest part of our lives in Uganda – our work. Excited for the next chapter.

Tim will be back in Uganda twice a year and I’ll be back about once a year. That feels really good to have down on the internet in black and white.

Talk soon,

*Photos by Candice Lassey*