Kris Dreessen is an award-winning journalist and photographer and travel addict who specializes in feature, documentary and nature and travel journalism. She likes to learn about other cultures and to share the uniqueness we find in exotic places as well as in our own backyards.
In April 2014, she left her job as a magazine editor, gave away most of her possessions for her dream: To travel around the world helping to document tribes with disappearing or changing languages, and sharing stories of everyday people who make a difference in the lives of others.
She started by living with Nicaraguan farmers, with whom she built a preschool using $5,200 raised from family, friends and people who support the idea of do-it-yourself change.
She has collaborated with linguists working with groups with under-studied languages in Kenya, Senegal and Australia. She is creating a visual and written scrapbook of the communities, focusing on what is important to them, changing culture and traditions still in use. In Australia, she was beside the final Tjupan speakers as they reunited with their ancestral land, and is telling the life story of the final fluent Kaalamaya speaker on earth.
She caught the wanderlust when she spent a year in former West Germany when she was 17. She has since traveled to more than 30 countries and around the United States, usually solo and with more film and memory cards than cash. She has lived in Germany, Brazil, Ireland, Philadelphia, and sunny St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.
Her work as an outdoors writer, feature and news reporter, editor and photographer for an upstate New York newspaper chain, Her writing, photography and concept design as editor of the SUNY Geneseo Scene magazine has earned seven industry regional and state awards. She is a freelance photographer and writer, and was the Amazon contributor for the new “Viva Travel Guide: Peru.” Her images and writing have appeared in newspapers, “Women’s Adventure," tattoo publications, Native American journals and the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.
In 2006, she created The Friends Project to give back for all the inspiration she has received while on the road. The grassroots travel charity funds small improvement projects in developing countries that are driven by residents, such as the installation of window screens and provision of bleach tablets and buckets to teach residents how to sanitize drinking water in the remote community of Nueva Esperanza in the Peruvian Amazon.
Most recently, The Friends Project raised $5,200 to help farmers build the first preschool in Las Minitas, a mountain community near El Sauce, Nicaragua.
The project is based on do-it-yourself change — and believing a lot is possible with few resources. It launched an English class in Las Minitas that was just permanently incorporated into a development program, and provides 7 teens with high school and coliege scholarships.
Started in 2011, The Friends Photo Project puts the cameras in the hands of El Sauce teens, who are docoumenting and sharing photos of their lives via their online gallery — http://bit.ly/16yijjq
Find out more about The Friends Project work and most recent photo initiative in El Sauce on Facebook — www.facebook.com/TheFriendsProject — or the website, thefriendsproject.org.