We ALL can make a difference. Endale’s Story | Personal

• July 29th, 2016 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

Most of you all know that a huge part of my heart is connected to Ethiopia.  This country gave me my son Messay and I will forever be grateful.

It is a country filled with beauty, joy, culture and love.  It is also filled with poverty and need.  I am on the board of directors for an amazing non-for-profit, Habesha Momma, that works to help better lives of women and children in Ethiopia. I have been going back to Ethiopia for the past two years with Habesha Momma and am so proud of the work we do there.

I began to sponsor this young man, Endale, after our first trip.  I want to share his story.



He lives on Entoto Mountain, where there live a very large population of homeless and sick people.  My friend Mesfin, runs a feeding program and has worked for years to help the people of Entoto.  After participating in his feeding program last year,  I met little Endale and his mother.  This was a picture of his family from that first year (2015), Endale is in his mothers arms.  


There is a sponsorship program that provides basic needs for families that are living on the mountain, run by Ordinary Hero.   Endale and his mother had been waiting on a sponsor for a very long time, possibly because Endale has severe mental and physical disabilities.  For some reason, I was drawn to Endale and I asked his mother to hold him… I will never forget those first moments.  He screamed and laughed, pulled my hair and hit me in excitement!  As I have a degree in special education, I was well aware he wasn’t upset but just happy and showing his excitement any way he could!  He gave me lots of kisses and love and we laughed and laughed.  By the time I handed him back I was covered in spit, had red marks on my face and my heart had been stolen!

As soon as I returned home from Ethiopia, I contacted Ordinary Hero and asked them to allow me to sponsor Endale and his family.  My sponsoring them allowed them food, a place to live and medical care.  His mother could finally breathe easier as Endale’s disability wouldn’t allow her to work outside the home.  Finally, she could rest at night knowing his basic needs were provided for.

This year, I returned to Ethiopia with Habesha Momma and we were able to visit Entoto Mountain on the last day of our trip.  I was so excited to see my Endale again.  It is a day I will never forget.

This is me as I finally get to see Endale with his mother.  I am sure I was saying something nice but I think I look a little crazy as I am taking him from his momma!  I was just so excited to hold him again!


From the moment Endale was in my arms he was laughing.  He laughed and laughed!  He gave me kisses.  He squeezed my cheeks with his little chubby fingers (I think I had red marks again from his fingernails lol!)  Did I mention his laugh?  It was infectious! He brought our team so much joy… just watching him laugh, smile and squeal in excitement.

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This morning I received a message from my friend Mesfin. Endale passed away yesterday.  I don’t know how, all I know is he got sick two days ago and passed away in the hospital. My heart is breaking for this family.  My heart is breaking that I will never hear that precious laugh again.  My heart is breaking knowing the pain his mother must be feeling.

I think back on the life of Endale… the two short visits I had with him.  I will never forget his laugh.  He might not have been able to talk to me or run around with the other kids, but he showed me love.  He shared happiness.  He radiated joy.  No matter how you were feeling, how sad, upset or angry you were, just being around little Endale would fix that, even if just for a moment!  I share these pictures with you to show you his love… his contribution to this world.  He might not have been able to tell you his name but he should share the simple joy of being alive with you. 

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I am not sure if his mom will know how much he meant to me… how much I cherished the moments I was able to spend with him.  I hope you take this time to enjoy Endale’s joy.  I hope you allow it to lift your spirits.  It was what I believe he was put on earth to do… to share pure joy. So please take a moment and allow his joy to fill your heart.  Look at that beautiful smile, the glee in his eyes!   When you think you don’t have anything to offer the world, think of Endale.  He couldn’t do so much… but he could do the very best thing of all… love.  He could brighten your day and bring a smile to those around him.  He did his job and he did it well.  God called him home and now he is running around and that beautiful laugh is filling the heavens!

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I am so very very thankful to have met Endale.  I thank God he allowed me to hold him just two weeks ago and share his joy.  I am thankful he had a mother, a brother and a community who loved him.  I am thankful God introduced me to my friend Andrea (president of Habesha Momma), who introduced me to Mesfin, who introduced me to Ordinary hero.  I am thankful that for the last year of his life, he wasn’t hungry or unsheltered.  I am thankful God allowed me to provide for them.  

Not all of the kids in Ethiopia are so lucky.  Our project in Debre Markos is working to help children living on the streets, without family, shelter or food. (Watch Video Here.) Please consider going to Habesha Momma and donating.  Would you donate a $1, $5, or even $50 in memory of Endale?  Help us share his joy by bringing joy and love to more children so desperately in need of it.


Saying I DO all over again | Hampton Roads Photographer

• July 27th, 2016 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

If you follow my blog you will know this family.  I have been photographing them for years, ever since they were pregnant with their beautiful little Elliegh. So when Steven called me and asked me to photograph a surprise wedding renewal for them, how could I say no?  I LOVE surprises and I love Jenna, so I was super excited to photograph them saying “I Do” again! 

Family and friends from all over came to Virginia Beach to surprise them.  Not sure it was a complete surprise (I guess someone said something about someone coming to town in front of her) but it was a night to remember none-the-less!  I loved watching these two recommit themselves to each other and to their marriage.  Jenna and Elliegh were stunningly beautiful and Steven cleans up well too!  Blessings and love to you guys, thanks for always trusting me with your precious family memories!<3 <3



Cupcakes by the amazing Amy and Daniel with Apothecary Cupcakes.  http://apothecarycupcakes.weebly.com/

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When the Last leaves the Nest | Family Portrait Photographer Hampton Roads

• July 21st, 2016 •

Copyright ©  Devon Shanor Photography | All rights reserved

I met Latrice when she attended my open house in May.  Her youngest son was graduating from high school and she talked to me about senior portraits.  Her son, Emmanuel was not super excited about Senior portraits, so I talked with her about combining a family session with his Senior portraits.  That way the focus wouldn’t be on him the whole time and we’d get those family portraits she’d been putting off for way too long.  It’s important to capture the family when the last graduates, especially if there haven’t been any marriages yet.  Capture the family unit as it has been for so long… because before you know it it will be growing again! 

Once I met her stunningly handsome sons, (Devonta, Marquis and Emmanuel)  I realized my job was going to be very easy.  They could easily model, each one of them!  I had such a great time meeting them and getting to know as little about each one of them.  Handsome, talented, kind and compassionate… Latrice- you’ve done a great job raising these young men!

We did our shoot in the neon district in Norfolk and it was the perfect background for this family!  We got some great brothers shots, some senior portraits for Emmanuel and some beautiful family portraits for mom!   I can’t wait to see this family grow in the future… I see a few future daughter- in- laws someday! 

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