/ ,(h)yo͞omənˈkīnd/: Human Beings Considered Collectively

Words: Brittany Joy Daugherty
Photographs: Erica Brandich

At bottom every man knows well enough that he is a unique being, only once on this earth; and by no extraordinary chance will such a marvelously picturesque piece of diversity in unity as he is, ever be put together a second time.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

This is a story about diversity and culture.

A story about seeing other people from a drastically different perspective; a lens focused on truth and love and acceptance.

A raw adventure that tugs at your heartstrings and delivers your soul from its comfort zone.

The World Race:

A Journey to 11 Countries in 11 Months to Serve People while Amongst Real and Raw Community.

There is a generation of radicals whose heartbeat is to see a changed world. It’s a generation that’s dissatisfied with the status quo and is actively rising to the challenge of seeing the world transformed…”

A dear friend of mine, who happens to be the photographer for this story, took a leap of faith and committed herself to this transformative journey one year ago. This story is an epitome of celebrating the goodness that exists in the diversity of cultures, lands, traditions and the ability to cross language barriers with something so tangible and universal: love.

Henceforth is a mini-collection of the people and experiences Erica met on her 11-month adventure.

 What led you to pursuing this adventure? 

Did you ever have that wild stirring in your heart that there was more for you? That this 9 -5 job wasn't all that was made for you? That you maybe there was more to see, more to experience, more people to love, more to taste, and more to explore? That wild stirring started deep in my soul at a young age and has never faded, so the moment I heard about the World Race, an 11 month mission trip to 11 different countries, my spirit came alive and I knew I had to take the leap of faith and go, I had to abandon the comforts of this world, the comfortable life we live to experience love in a whole new way.

What expectations did you have about going on the World Race? How did the reality of those expectations shift during your journey?

Expectations can be a dangerous thing. I knew it would be an adventure, that life would be messy, complicated, not planned and things would take ten times longer then expected or wanted, so I can honestly say I went into it with an open mind and heart and it made it easier to dive into the new cultures every single month knowing I would have to be flexible, willing to not settle for a year and would have to adapt to the diverse beauty that was set before me every month.  

As a woman what do you feel is something you experienced different than the gents? 

The reactions I would get from people when telling them I was traveling the world was usually one of fear because I was a woman and most feel that it is not safe for women to travel the world. Never let fear hold you back from the adventures you are being called into, be smart, aware, and confident and don't let the chaos of the world, or fear of man keep you home when there is so much beauty to experience out there. 

The first vivid memory/ experience/ memory that comes to mind?

I was in Guatemala my first month. We drove up to a rural village in the mountains to spend the day with the kids at the local school there, we would bring food, fun, games and a lot of love. This small beautiful village tucked away on the top of a mountain had no running water and was very poor. We got the food ready to serve as the children lined up with their bowls. While serving the children my attention was shifted and drawn to the children lined along the gate outside the school ground with their sweet tiny fingers wrapped around the gate, waiting in hope that there would be some food left over, and I knew there was not going to be any. This is the first time I experienced a new depth of brokenness. I felt helpless, their dirty little fingers, matted hair, torn clothes and beautiful eyes pierced my heart. My heart broke and all I could do was cry out to God and plead with Him to show me that those kids would be taken care.. In that exact moment, the children we had just served walked over to the fence and shared the little food they had with their younger siblings. I just sat and cried. 

How did this experience sculpt and mold you? 

It changed my heart, my life, even in the darkest places. It put a beautiful longing and ache in my heart for the people of this world that will never fade away. Nothing is the same for me. Every meal I eat, I think of the hundreds of kids that I had the privilege to share a meal with in the slums. Every day that the sun is setting I think of my beautiful sisters that are heading out to the bars to sell themselves to try and provide for their family. Every sunset and sunrise, I think of the days ahead for my friends and family that I had the opportunity to live life with across the world and I pray their days are met with joy. I have new eyes, a new heart because the poverty, the prostitutes, the orphans, the widows are not just stories  or pictures that make my heart break when I see them on TV, they are my friends, my family, my brothers and sisters and I love them more than anything and because of that love, I am forever changed. 

If there is one encounter you could pick with women that made something inside of you stir the most, what would it be?

 I bought a prostitute off of a stage as they all stood there half naked. I got to hold her in my arms, hear her life story, wipe her tears, tell her how beautiful, worthy and loved she is. 

What hardships did you encounter in being away from the comfort of home? 

Life goes on when you leave. It was hard to be away from my family when big hard things were happening and I was across the world. But it allowed me and my family to turn to the Lord and trust that we were exactly where we needed to be, even if that felt like the hardest thing in the world at the time, 

What did you learn most about yourself? About humankind? 

I learned that we are really all just a great big, messy, beautiful family.

Name the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the following words?

Food: eating bugs off the street in Thailand

Ocean: overcame my fear and caught my first wave in Costa Rica 

Late nights: laughing, pillow talk, always someone you love next to you

Bathing: crabs lived in our tub of bathing water in Cambodia

joy: joy is shared through dancing in Africa. .Joy is what overcame my heart every single day

Hunger: our souls are hungry for so much more than the nourishment food can provide...there are so many starving people in this world… Hungry for more, Its that moment a starving person gets that first bite of bread and then they realize how hungry they were all along.. Its the same hunger deep in our souls to experience our Fathers love, people know they are hungry, but they don't know how truly hungry they are until they get that first taste of new life, and they are forever changed, and always hungry for more of the perfect love our Father lavishes on us

Brokenness: is necessary. When you reach a place of brokenness, you also step into a new depth of love, a love that permeates passion, freedom, pursuit and a heart for the broken and the courage to walk into those places and just love…when i think of brokenness I immediately think of perfect love, they walk hand in hand.. in our brokenness we are met with perfect love

Redemption: some would call them prostitutes; I call them my sisters and daughters of the King

Sleep: floors, tents, huts, hostels, schools, churches, back yards, hammocks, sleeping pads, bunk beds, sweating to death, freezing cold, loud noises, weird smells, always near your best friends, always an adventure

Alone time: non- existent 

If you could describe this experience in one word what would it be? 

BEST...(ever)

“We are not here to match and homogenize and agree on every point. One size of spirituality does not fit all. We are here to be our divine selves, boldly, passionately, respectfully, to the absolute best of our ability — and this, this is more than enough.” ― Sera Break