Sirina Keesara

Sirina Keesara

Is there a specific person, book, movie or other source that has inspired you to travel? Or does your wanderlust come from somewhere else entirely?

My wanderlust was inherited from my mother. From the time that I was 9 years old she started traveling with me and ignited addiction to seeing new cultures, lifestyles, histories and everything else that traveling has to offer. I now travel by myself and mainly through working or studying living in a place for an extended amount of time. My passion is exploring the lives and struggles of women throughout the world, focusing on access to family planning. This work has taken me to Ghana, Nicaragua, Geneva, and now Kenya. I am currently taking a couple years out of medical school to work in Nairobi building a family planning program for a new maternity clinic that serves low income women.

When traveling or exploring a new place for the first time, what are some of your ‘must do’s’? Why?

1. Must try the local fruit- there is always one that doesn’t have an English name!
2. Must talk to women- This is harder than it seems because many are hidden away from tourists.
3. Must stop in a town that has less than a page in the guide book I am using- Usually turns out to be a jewel.

What is your favorite photo that you have taken while traveling? Tell us about it.

My favorite photo that I have taken was in Ghana, in a village called Nakpanduri. It is of a a 18 year old girl smiling at and carrying her 1 year old baby. Her grandmother sits in the background on the foyer and represents the four generations that are housed in the compound. I love this photo because it is colorful and captures joys of community in the village and stands in contrast to images of poverty, hunger and desperation that usually come from pictures of villages in Africa.

Tell us about your dream trip. How would you choose to document the adventure?

Though I have a long list of dream trips, my current dream trip is to Somaliland. While I have been living in Kenya, I have traveled to Lamu, Kenya and Harar, Ethiopia and fell in love with the architecture, food, fabrics, and landscapes. Combined, these make some of the most visually splendid destinations I’ve ever been. In both places I was miles away from the Somalian border. Before visiting these places, I knew close to nothing about the Somalia except that it has produced many refugees for over the last two decades. However, while I was in Lamu and Harar the locals told me that the beauty of their places were nothing compared to that in Somalia! I learned about the fascinating history, culture and politics that has broken Somali into three separate independently running parts. Somaliland, one of the three parts, is a country that broke away in 1991. It is not recognized by the United Nations, but it is said to have one of the best running democracies in the world, most untouched landscapes, and incredible fashion. I am so close to this region and I want to take the opportunity to explore an area of the would have never dreamed of visiting previously.