She walked in with a skeptical look on her face, she looked around at all the unknown people, so many strangers there treating her nicely, asking nothing in return. She was quickly taken to the kids entertainment area only to feel even more cared for, where she cut, glued and put together, with the help of a volunteer, a beautiful pink heart. With a new cardboard cut-out heart in hand she walked around shyly and when approached by any volunteer, responded in only a few words.

It wasn’t long before she was called, alongside her family, to take their first ever family portrait. She had lost her father at 5, and now at 11, was taking a family picture with her mother, stepfather and four brothers/sisters. She seemed delighted that the first part of this entire process was makeup, second to that came hair, and third… the joyful moment of having their portrait taken. Bruna smiled for the first time since she had arrived, it seemed as though an aura of happiness had poured upon her, it seemed like there was no turning back.

She came out of the making-of room radiant, with a beaming smile that could be seen at a distance. It was as if a new, rejoiced person had emerged in the midst of all these people. Bruna came out to hug me and tell me how much she had enjoyed this experience. Telling me to close my eyes she said she had a present for me, as I extended out my hands, something was placed upon them… With a quick kiss on my cheek she told me she would like for me to have the heart she made. It is no wonder that help-portrait brings people together, but most of all, joins hearts.







“As the very pictures we take during the event are worth a thousand words, not even a picture could start to describe all that this event has meant for me. As my first time ever as a Help-Portrait volunteer it has been an amazing journey of, not only bringing smiles to the lips of so many different people, but to get to know them, listen to their stories, understand what they have gone through, only to know that today, with a small gesture on our behalf, an entire world can light up on their end. Most of all, it has been a day to realize that the smiles we place on their lips and ours aren’t merely a one time exchange, they become living memories of an amazing experience. Help-Portrait in itself does not live by the normal connotation of volunteered ‘sacrifice’, it joins the passion of serving others and doing so through photography, it has given an entire new meaning to the word ‘volunteer’, as today I leave knowing that this event has provided so many people with the opportunity of receiving something, nothing short of absolutely, incredible… including myself.”

–Marina Magro, Lisboa, Carnaxide, Portugal

See more photos here.