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Photographer offers visual tour of Africa

Hope trumps death in travelers' fundraiser

Many popular tales of adventure are propelled by a searching soul covering the open road on a motorbike.

But when local photographer Todd Lawson and yoga instructor Christina Tottle used enduro motorbikes to travel across Africa, they knew what they were looking for.

And the road was far from open.

Lawson and Tottle spent most of 2008 visiting remote villages across the continent personally distributing 2,200 mosquito bed nets in an effort to help prevent the spread of malaria, which took Lawson's brother Sean nearly a decade earlier.

On Aug. 1, the pair is inviting Sea to Sky residents to join them on their 10-month, 23,000-km journey when they host a slideshow/video presentation documenting their experiences at Whistler's Garibaldi Lift Company, with all proceeds going to the Sean Lawson Young Travellers Foundation, named after Lawson's brother.

Lawson and Tottle retraced part of the route that the brothers took before Sean died suddenly of cerebral malaria 10 years ago. The return was emotional, said Lawson, but it was even more uplifting.

"Even though it's terrible and tragic what happened to my brother, what was to come out of it was what me and Christina were doing," he said. "It all stems from him and his desire to live and travel and enjoy life. For us to be able to repay that on behalf of him was really cool. It really helps your spirit to be able to help other people."

Part of the trip involved hosting nine young Ugandans on a five day safari in Murchison Falls National Park, which is situated along the Nile River. Many of the kids had never been outside their own villages let alone seen African wildlife like elephants and lions. The trip, supported by the foundation, was meant to supply a spark to illuminate the world's wonders and its possibilities.

Lawson and Tottle acquired their own share of valuable knowledge along the way, too. They mostly camped but were also welcomed regularly into Africans' homes where they gained insight into values such as conservation, said Tottle.

"They can wash a plate with a cap full of water. You really have to simplify," she said.

But it is the African's joyous spirit in the face of hardship that brings Lawson's photography to life. Lawson approached the project with a desire to capture the continent's bright character, he said.

"It's so colourful and so full of hope and happiness. They deal with so much adversity and it's ingrained into their makeup as a people," he said.

"They're very resilient and one of the best things about them is they have an incredible sense of humour. They will laugh about anything and everything is a joke because that's the way they deal with life."

The presentation begins at 8:30 p.m. and also features live African musical entertainment. Tickets cost $15 at the door. To learn more about the initiative visit

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