While I’ve done some video work in the past, this is my first video of this kind. Lemlem’s story touched me deeply as I’m confident it will you, and it’s a privilege to be able to share it with you. After the video, check out some of the other incredible work that ESMAfrica is doing.
Also, a huge thank you to One Child Campaign, that empowers these story-tellings.
On my recent trip to the Middle East, my main photography job was in a Syrian Refugee camp. Unfortunately I am not allowed to share images from that time. My work partner, Caleb, and I have been told that we were part of just a handful of outsiders ever permitted to enter the camp, and I found the whole thing overwhelming. Usually we walk out of a place with a plan for what we can do, how we can help to make a difference- this time there was nothing, humanly speaking, that could be done by us. The scope of it and people’s prospects were bleak.
We wondered on the drive back what would become of this vast group of people confined in a camp where your neighbors in the next tiny corrugated tin home were just three strides away. Row, after row, after row of them. They aren’t free to leave the camp unless they want to walk back into a war zone; they aren’t free to have a chance at a future.And no matter how much I had the ideas in theory, I was most affected by how similar we were. I think the most striking thing about sitting with refugees was that the only difference between myself and them was that I could go home.⠀
From my overall time in the Middle East, I think the conversations with locals was the biggest treasure of my trip. One young Jordanian man and I talked about relationships across cultures; and I was so struck by the thoughts of a man who had spent his life in the mountains in which he was born: “I feel that the biggest problem between our cultures is that we don’t understand each other so we fear each other. There’s an old Bedouin saying: ‘Put your hand over your heart. All our hearts beat the same.'”⠀
Here are some of the images from the trip that I can share with you. I hope you enjoy them.
We have a new featured Connection for the spring. As you know $100 from each photo session goes directly to a featured organization. All me to introduce you to this season’s organization- ESMAfrica.
ESMAfrica operates out of the southern Ethiopian city of Hawassa. I like to call them “The Yes Ministry”, because that always seems to be their answer when a new need comes along. Their reach is in many aspects of the community, primarily three children’s homes:
Ebenezer Grace Children’s Home (EGCH)- The flagship home opened its doors in 2010. Most of the children came into this family due to abandonment. Others came as a means of being saved from traditional tribal practices that declares them “cursed” (Mingi), which carries a death sentence. This is an orphanage that feels more like a loving home.
Lantu’s Home of Hidden Treasures – This home was dedicated to the memory of Lantu (EGCH’s first child, who had many special needs). The focus is to be a place where special needs and typically developing children live side-by-side. I can personally vouch that this is the nicest special needs home I have ever visited in the third world.
House of Hope – Opening later in 2017, is a home for children living with HIV. The unique vision of this home is that these children will have “house parents” and function as a family.
And because a visual is always nice, here are some of the recent photos I shot while visiting ESMAfrica and the surrounding area.
This little one had just been brought to ESMAfrica after having been found in the trash…