Japanese shelter HEART conquers euthanization with love

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

Montréal’s move to repeal its ban on one of North America's most controversial canines marked the onset of progress for animal welfare activists and the dogs themselves.

A revision of laws surrounding "dangerous" dogs, like the pit bull breed, was in legislation and is set to be reviewed by 2018 with the general public's safety in mind.

Despite these strides, the recent, tragic mauling of a Montréal woman led to an abrupt decision that would have resulted in the mass euthanization of approximately 7,000 pit bulls, including those belonging to pet owners.

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

Defending animal welfare continues to plague animal rights activists around the world, who believe there is another method to mitigating violence against breeds who have been categorized as unfit for domestic companionship. The sad reality is that for most "ill-behaved" dogs, the sharp tip of a needle is the final leg of their journey. 

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

Animal rights shelter HEART, based in Tokushima, Japan is one non-profit that is committed to giving unwanted, or misguided domestic animals a second chance at life and love. For this animal welfare group, euthanasia is taboo. Instead, alternative measures are taken to ensure that as many unwanted dogs as possible get re-homed, while they endure compassion and behavioural training along the way. 

The founders of HEART. Photo: Pam Forster

The founders of HEART.

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

HEART has garnered attention for advocating animal rights and welfare in Japan, and their anti-euthanasia stance on unadopted animals is making waves. HEART's euthanasia ban has made the non-profit the only organization to implement this policy in their vicinity. Taking into consideration the fact that many Japanese shelters put down a staggering rate of 90% of their unadopted animals, HEART is truly an important organization to the individuals and animals who face limited options. More often than not, irresponsible human behaviours, like questionable training methods or a disregard of spaying and neutering is to blame for the rise in unwanted animals. 

Photo: Lais Viera

Photo: Lais Viera

Co-founded in 2006 by Susan Mercer and Hitoshi Tojo, the duo truly put their backs into their work. With full-time hours, sometimes clocking in over twelve-hour days, Mercer and Tojo rely on the help from a few paid employees, as well as a steadfast team of passionate weekend volunteers.

Photo: Pam Forster

Photo: Pam Forster

With a tremendous percentage of Japan’s unwanted animals being scheduled for euthanasia, more methods of implementing harm-reduction strategies are required. This is attained in several ways. Through educating the public on animal rights issues, advocating for the spaying and neutering of animals, and even rolling up their own sleeves and helping spay animals themselves, HEART’s team has become the gleam of hope for many animals who's fate would have otherwise ended on an operating table. To date, the organization has rehomed hundreds of formerly rejected animals and helped them become members of loving families.  

Adopted. Photo: Pam Forster

Adopted.

Photo: Pam Forster

Mercer credits the assistance of PWB photographers Pam Forster and Lais Vieira and the attention their images helped to advocate. “Since Photographers Without Borders has been here, we have built new, more spacious kennels to replace some of our older housing," Mercer said. "We have also achieved this through grants from companies and crowdfunding efforts.” 

Photo: Lais Viera

Photo: Lais Viera

HEART's main goal has been the improvement of its internal operations, and the organization plans to expand its outreach to help even more animals. Mercer has since been certified as a professional dog trainer, and is in the midst of implementing a shelter training and enrichment programs to improve the animals' quality of life.

Mercer explains that the organization shows no signs of slowing down. “We will continue with our rescue and re-homing efforts, but hope to expand our community outreach programs through children's humane education lessons and various other events and seminars,” Mercer said.

You can visit HEART's website here.

















 

Sisters photographing sisters and raising voices

In recognition of their ongoing efforts, we'd like to introduce you to some of the women behind the lenses here at PWB, who have brought attention to efforts surrounding human rights, wildlife and conservation, education, gender equality, and sustainability. 

AIMI DUONG

IMAGE: AIMI DUONG

IMAGE: AIMI DUONG

ALYSON SMITH

IMAGE: ALYSON SMITH

IMAGE: ALYSON SMITH

ANGELA CONNERS

IMAGE: ANGELA CONNERS

IMAGE: ANGELA CONNERS

CLAUDIA QUIGUA

IMAGE: CLAUDIA QUIGUA

IMAGE: CLAUDIA QUIGUA

KRISTIN LAU

IMAGE: KRISTIN LAU

IMAGE: KRISTIN LAU

LISA XING

IMAGE: LISA XING

IMAGE: LISA XING

MAGGIE SVOBODA

IMAGE: MAGGIE SVOBODA

IMAGE: MAGGIE SVOBODA

MEGAN PETERSON

IMAGE: MEGAN PETERSON

IMAGE: MEGAN PETERSON

MEL HATTIE

IMAGE: MEL HATTIE

IMAGE: MEL HATTIE

RACHEL NAFT

IMAGE: RACHEL NAFT

IMAGE: RACHEL NAFT

SARAH ANN TOBI

IMAGE: SARAH ANN TOBI

IMAGE: SARAH ANN TOBI

SIENNA CLOUGH

IMAGE: SIENNA CLOUGH

IMAGE: SIENNA CLOUGH

TALIA RICCI

IMAGE: TALIA RICCI

IMAGE: TALIA RICCI

VICTORIA LODI

IMAGE: VICTORIA LODI

IMAGE: VICTORIA LODI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orangutan heroes of Sumatra

"Mekar" had been trapped in this tiny patch of forest for over seven days.

"Mekar" had been trapped in this tiny patch of forest for over seven days.

This week 30-year-old female orangutan "Mekar" (lovingly named after the village in which she was found, which means "blooming") was found trapped, skinny and bullet-ridden in a small patch of forest inside a palm oil plantation for over seven days. Arboreal creatures sharing 97% of human DNA, orangutans are not able to thrive in palm oil plantations due to lack of food and tree cover, but the reality is that palm oil plantations are both a norm and a way of life in Sumatra, posing a great threat to wildlife and conservation efforts.

When critically endangered orangutans are in trouble in Sumatra, people know who to call: "HOCRU," or the "Human-Orangutan Conflict Response Unit," which operates as a part of Sumatra's leading orangutan and habitat conservation organization, "Orangutan Information Centre (OIC)."

DanielleDaSilva_PhotographersWithoutBorders

Mekar was safely tranquilized using a dart gun. It took three tries to hit the orangutan in a tree 15 metres above ground and after she was sedated, she fell into a net held taught by the HOCRU team and the help of locals.

Local people from "Mekar Sari" watch and assist in the rescue.

Local people from "Mekar Sari" watch and assist in the rescue.

Kriezna, the HOCRU Coordinator, tries to coax the orangutan into a better position for tranquilization.

Kriezna, the HOCRU Coordinator, tries to coax the orangutan into a better position for tranquilization.

A different kind of White Helmet team.

A different kind of White Helmet team.

OIC's vet, Ricko al Husein, and the HOCRU coordinator Kriezna Ketapel did a check on her vitals and found that she was malnourished with over 30 air rifle bullets riddled throughout her body and face. One eye had a bullet lodged inside, impairing her vision.

DanielleDaSilva_PhotographersWithoutBorders
DanielleDaSilva_PhotographersWithoutBorders
DanielleDaSilva_PhotographersWithoutBorders

Fortunately Mekar was healthy enough to be translocated to the national park on the same day, so the team made preparations to drive two hours to the nearest release site at the national park entrance.

Releasing Mekar to the national park forest.

Releasing Mekar to the national park forest.

Orangutans viewed as pests on plantation sites and in villages are often shot, killed, and even sometimes consumed or kept illegally as pets. Poachers are also notorious for killing mother orangutans so they can capture and sell their babies as pets to foreigners and locals where they are seen as status symbols. HOCRU evacuated or confiscated 28 isolated or illegally kept orangutans in 2016. However by educating local communities and building partnerships with local people, OIC is getting more and more calls so that these magnificent beings can have a second chance.

DanielleDaSilva_PhotographersWithoutBorders

Sumatra is the only place in the world where critically endangered orangutan, elephant, rhino, and tiger exist in the same ecosystem. And the largest culprit causing the need for rescues and pushing these animals towards extinction is habitat loss due to deforestation. Unsung heroes, the staff at OIC are not only the sole organization performing rescues and translocations, but they have reclaimed and reforested almost 1500 hectares of illegal palm oil plantations that encroach on conservation land, and are creating buffer zones between the national park boundaries using coffee and orange farms. Right now one of their key aims is purchasing land to create a conservation area called the "Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary" that will act as a migratory corridor and safe haven for wildlife that can not be returned to the wild. They key to their success? Involving and working with local people, government and NGOs.

If you would like to assist with OIC's "Sumatran Wildlife Sanctuary" effort, you can donate here: grouprev.com/sumatranwildlifesanctuary

Images © 2017 Danielle Da Silva.

Four young Canadian photographers you should know

Meet four young photographers who are making strides in the Canadian photography industry:

Sierra Nallo

Annual Afropunk festival showcasing alternative Black culture. New York. / Image: Sierra Nallo

Annual Afropunk festival showcasing alternative Black culture. New York. / Image: Sierra Nallo

Group of Students. Sierra Leone. / Image: Sierra Nallo

Group of Students. Sierra Leone. / Image: Sierra Nallo

To see more of Sierra click here.

Uranranebi Agbeyegbe

Black Lives Matter Protest. Toronto. / Image: Uranranebi Agbeyegbe

Black Lives Matter Protest. Toronto. / Image: Uranranebi Agbeyegbe

Black Lives Matter Protest. Toronto. / Image: Uranranebi Agbeyegbe

Black Lives Matter Protest. Toronto. / Image: Uranranebi Agbeyegbe

To see more of his work click here.

Sarah May Taylor

Christmas Day in Manhattan streets. New York. / Image: Sarah May Taylor

Christmas Day in Manhattan streets. New York. / Image: Sarah May Taylor

Boy waiting for his bus. South Africa. / Image: Sarah May Taylor

Boy waiting for his bus. South Africa. / Image: Sarah May Taylor

To see more of her work click here.

Tagwa Moyo

Trump Ban protest outside the US Consulate. Toronto. / Image: Tagwa Moyo

Trump Ban protest outside the US Consulate. Toronto. / Image: Tagwa Moyo

Trump Ban protest outside the US Consulate. Toronto. / Image: Tagwa Moyo

Trump Ban protest outside the US Consulate. Toronto. / Image: Tagwa Moyo

To see more of his work click here.

This photographers gives a face to the IDPs living in the South Caucasus

For many of us, photographs of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are a common daily occurrence on our laptop screens and news feeds. Thinking of refugees, one conjures up images of families fleeing conflict overseas, in backyards nothing like our own. We read article after article about the atrocities, highlighted by the impending urgency of these situations. However, forgotten are the refugees and IDPs in countries whose conflicts have been become outdated and no longer make headlines in Western media.

PHOTO: Peter Schön

PHOTO: Peter Schön

Peter Schön is an award-winning photographer from Germany. His passion for photography is fused with his lust for travel and adventure, resulting in a portfolio of images stretching from Norway to Georgia, Canada to Japan. Schön has experienced first-hand the effects of the forced migration of people due to conflict while travelling in the South Caucasus. This region, in the crossroads of Europe and Asia, straddling the Caucasus mountain range, has a colourful and rich history, influenced by the clash of cultures and wild terrain. The nations of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia have been shaped by religious conflict, ideological and political differences and the aspirations of larger, more powerful neighbours such as Turkey and Russia. Marred by separatist movements, highly combustible nationalist sentiments and ethnic identities, there are many reasons as to why this region suffers such high levels of refugees and IDP’s.

 “I was first introduced to displaced people during a ski mountaineering/climbing trip to Svaneti, a mountain region of Georgia, South Caucasus," Schön said. "Svaneti borders Abkhazia, a separatist region from Georgia. Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia after the 1992-93 War in Abkhazia”, explains Schön. “During and after the short, but violent and complex conflict, almost the entire ethnic Georgian population left Abkhazia. Thousands went over the mountains into Svaneti, in desperate conditions, terrain and weather.”

Schön talks about the driving forces behind his work. “In 2008 a conflict erupted between Georgia and Russia over the break-away region of South Ossetia," Schön said "The war had been over for more than three years, but there were still traces of it everywhere – not only on the houses and infrastructure but also in the minds of the people living here. One scene struck me in particular: a lonely, elderly woman walks down a muddy street as winter arrives in Ergneti, a town almost completely destroyed during the war. The losers of this political power game are the people living on either side of the buffer zone – people who lost wives, husbands, sons or daughters, who lost their homes and livelihoods amidst the shelling, burning and bombing of villages.”

PHOTO: Peter Schön

PHOTO: Peter Schön

The collapse of the USSR left a vacuum, according to Schön, which made the eruption of conflict and violence inevitable as nations attempted to forge their borders. “Under Soviet rule Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived peacefully together until 1988 when the USSR lost strength and national sentiments built up in the Soviet Republics," Schön said. "Clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis turned into pogroms. Azerbaijanis started to flee from Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh, Armenians began to leave Azerbaijan. In Baku, Azerbaijani refugees that fled Armenia and Nagorny Karabakh mixed with the remaining Armenians in Baku, which proved to be a volatile mix and more violence followed. This was the context under which, in 1991, the conflict turn into full war between two countries that had just gained independence.”

PHOTO: Peter Schön

PHOTO: Peter Schön

This mammoth movement of people was unprecedented and has had a lasting effect on the population of the region. Ruined villages and dilapidated infrastructure, dot the landscapes of border regions, reminding people of the horrendous nature of war.

Schön confesses that it was his curiosity which encouraged him to investigate further and fully immerse himself in this region. And despite the pain and hardship that he has photographed here, Schön stresses the resilience and kindness of the people of the South Caucasus.

“So much hospitality and warmth in the cold Armenian winter," Schön said. "Of all things, the hospitality stood out. Armenians and Georgians make you feel at home quickly. Everywhere I went, I would be invited to a house for food, drink, and shelter. Later that was even the case working with the refugees – they hosted me with whatever little they had.”

PHOTO: Peter Schön

PHOTO: Peter Schön

Schön hopes to return to the South Caucasus once his project in Norway is complete. He wishes to continue to document and photograph the journey of IDP’s and refugees in the region, so that these people are not forgotten.

For more of Peter's work, click here

How a workshop led this photographer to shoot alongside a National Geographic talent

Paul Esposti has led a very colourful life, to say the least. 

After originally studying biology and working in an etymology lab for several years, he moved to Honduras to pursue a career in scuba diving. Armed with the technical skill required, Esposti became a certified commercial diver.

A few years down the road, yet another field sparked his interest, and Esposti decided to try his hand at boat building.

In 2015, Esposti had just finished up 7 years in the field as an R&D consultant. Once again, he decided it was time for a change and started looking for opportunities that linked back to his love of conservation and the outdoors. 

A random Google search led Esposti to stumble across an advertisement for Photographers Without Borders' very first workshop in Costa Rica. As outlined in the itinerary, the team would spend some time volunteering for the ASVO turtle conservation project at Matapalo Beach, the oldest community marine turtle conservation program on the Pacific Coast.

A baby sea turtle makes its way across the beach in Costa Rica. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

A baby sea turtle makes its way across the beach in Costa Rica. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Esposti liked the work PWB did, and although he had never heard of the organization before, he signed up. And then, he quit his job of 7 years.

Armed with his digital camera, to which he admits he had working knowledge of, Esposti packed his bags and flew out to Costa Rica in September 2015. In Costa Rica, he teamed up with fellow PWB Founder Danielle Da Silva and former Curator Tallie Garey in order to document the work of ASVO, an NGO committed to preserving the habitats of sea turtles. Due to their breeding habits, every year, thousands of sea turtles die or are at risk of death due to interactions with tourists on Costa Rica's bustling beaches.

Looking to see f there are any turtles left behind who couldn't make it out of the nest. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Looking to see f there are any turtles left behind who couldn't make it out of the nest. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Once the workshop ended, Esposti found himself back in Canada, no longer in beautiful Costa Rica, and without the security of his former job. Tallie Garey advised Esposti to enroll in the Environmental Visual Communications program at Fleming College. The program is a joint effort with the Royal Ontario Museum, where it is taught. "Part of the program is to do a placement for two months with an environmental organization," Esposti said. "The entire course prepares you for the placement - photography, videography, social media, and communications."

It was in his program that Esposti learned of an organization called SeaLegacy--a marine and conservation organization devoted to protecting marine life and the oceans. SeaLegacy also happens to be run by famous photographer, conservationist, and Executive Director Cristina Mittermeier, as well as her partner Paul Nicklen, the only Canadian photographer for National Geographic. "Some people go to an organization and sit in an office handling their social media feed but I wanted to be out in the field, and luckily I had the skill set as a diver and boat builder to be of use to Nicklen and Mittermeier," Esposti said.

Whales surface in northern British Columbia during Esposti's trip with Nicklen and Mittermeier. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Whales surface in northern British Columbia during Esposti's trip with Nicklen and Mittermeier. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

With a little bit of luck and a whole lot of newfound skills (and some strong encouragement from Tallie), Esposti approached the famous duo. "They [Mittermeier and Nicklen] were planning a trip up the coast of Northern B.C as SeaLegacy's first official expedition just at the time I was to be on placement," Esposti said.

To make a very long and very inspiring story short, Esposti was accepted to SeaLegacy and embarked on an epic journey with Paul Nicklen and Cristina Mitetrmeier as they explored the extreme beauty of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest, which is brimming with biodiversity and endangered species. 

For the first leg of the journey, Nicklen put Esposti's boat building skills to good use to make sure that their tiny motor boat would hold up for the entire trip. Over the course of four incredible weeks, Esposti was able to follow the lead of Nicklen and Mittermeier and assist with some incredible shots that have since been published by National Geographic online and through their social media channels.

Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

Kingcome Inlet, British Columbia. PHOTO: Paul Esposti

When you sign up with a workshop from PWB, you really have no idea what to expect. So many of us have likely weighed the odds of our futures at some point or another--do we stay at the job we aren't in love with in order to make ends meet, or do we abandon all of it in support of a life-changing opportunity we've fallen in love with a very long time ago?

You don't have to scroll through the rich travel-inspired social media feeds of strangers or friends and wish for that to be you. Way too often, we consider people who get to travel to new places "lucky", when in reality, they've chosen to make a sacrifice in order to make their dreams more than wishful thinking. You'll never know what the future holds if you don't take the risk. At PWB, all of our workshops are led by certified professionals who hold degrees in everything from Journalism and Videography to Conservation and major sciences. We're always along for the ride and are excited to help others accomplish their dreams. Whether your camera strap rests around your neck like your best fashion accessory, or it's your very first time shooting, we work with you one-on-one to sharpen your photography skills, while instilling in you the values of story-telling, ethical journalism, and wildlife conservation.

Our next workshop is April 23rd, 2017 and takes place in breath-taking Nicaragua.

Will you be joining us? Hurry, only 2 spots remain!

Click here to register.

To read Paul Esposti's full story, click here

 

 

Using creative photography to empower Indigenous communities

In October 2008, Red Works Photography was founded, with the aim of promoting and empowering positive contemporary Indigenous culture in North America. Its founder, Nadya Kwandibens, is Anishinaabe/Ojibwe from the Animakee Wa Zhing First Nation in Ontario. Concrete Indians is one of three ongoing series being produced by Red Works.

Nadya, who has travelled North America, working with other indigenous cultures, firmly believes that the medium of photography is so effective and powerful in promoting her aims.

“Red Works sessions are always photographed in colour but in addition to regular sessions, I have three ongoing series – Concrete Indians, Red Works Outtakes, and the most recently launched series emergence – which are all in colour except for Concrete Indians portraits," Kwandibens said. "When I initially started editing this series I wanted the portraits to stand out from the vibrancy of my other work and to use black/white in a way that challenges historic uses of the aesthetic format, that deemed Indigenous as peoples of the past, by precensing and juxtaposing Indigenous peoples amongst contemporary, urban, spaces.”

When asked about the concept of the Concrete Indians series and the importance of portraying indigenous people positively within an urban setting, Nadya noted; “Concrete Indians is an open-call portraiture series […] which focuses on reflections of decolonization and contemporary Indigenous identity. Many portraits are of people in full or partial traditional regalia at major recognizable intersections, others are portraits that convey unity and solidarity; all are assertions of the strength of Indigenous culture and identity through acts of resistance, mainly the act of reclaiming space(s).”

This photo series blends the culture of various Indigenous people, with an ever-growing presence that is changing the world around them. As Nadya states, Indigenous culture is alive and thriving. It is so important to acknowledge these cultures as part of, and integrated with, our society. Their strength and endurance is visible and encouraging to all.

Nadya explained that one of her favourite moments on her journey, “…took place in Vancouver, BC, during the photoshoot with ten Indigenous women who are all lawyers now, some of whom were studying to become lawyers at the time. I think we all understood and felt the power of that photoshoot and the resulting portraits have resonated with hundreds of people when I posted one of the portraits online. It’s important to spotlight the diverse range of occupations that we as Indigenous people hold space in, and it was particularly empowering to show the strength of Indigenous women in a field typically thought of as male-dominated.”

And though her journey is not done, the work achieved so far speaks volumes for Nadya’s character as an activist and photographer.

To learn more about Red Works Photography, or simply check out Nadya’s photographs from either one of her powerful series, click here

 

The Women's March Across the Globe

The March on Washington. PHOTO BY CHANG W. LEE/NEW YORK TIMES.

The March on Washington. PHOTO BY CHANG W. LEE/NEW YORK TIMES.

Yesterday was a historic and inspiring day. Women, men and children alike marched to defend the rights of women and marginalized groups, organized across the globe in support of the Women's March on Washington DC. The result was a stunning compilation of photos from every continent of individuals of every race, gender identification, sexuality and economical status, making their voice heard. 

PWB's own Danielle Da Silva and three empowered women before the march in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI. 

PWB's own Danielle Da Silva and three empowered women before the march in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI. 

 

The moving attendance of marchers walked in support of the Women's March on Washington. Multiple states including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, New York City, Boston, Idaho and Alaska showed supporters in the hundreds of thousands. Canada, Kenya, Antarctica, France, Georgia, Mexico, Amsterdam, Brazil, India, Australia, Italy, Prague, Iraq, Germany, Columbia, Costa Rica, Sweden, Thailand, England, Ireland and many more countries participated in this globally uplifting event. Photographers Without Borders own Danielle Da Silva attended a stirring march during her time in India. 

The mass action spoke volumes about the global attitude toward human rights, and will most likely go down in history as one of the largest and most impacting protests witnessed. These beautiful photos are a testament to the age old notion that as a collective and connected group, positive and harmonious goals can be achieved. 

Chicago Women's March. PHOTO BY JOHN J. KIM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Chicago Women's March. PHOTO BY JOHN J. KIM/CHICAGO TRIBUNE VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Women's March in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI.

Women's March in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI.

Spain Women's March. PHOTO BY DAVID RAMOS.

Spain Women's March. PHOTO BY DAVID RAMOS.

Portland Oregon Women's March. PHOTO BY BETH NAKAMURA/THE OREGONIAN VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Portland Oregon Women's March. PHOTO BY BETH NAKAMURA/THE OREGONIAN VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Oslo Women's March. PHOTO BY NTB SCANPIX/REUTEURS.

Oslo Women's March. PHOTO BY NTB SCANPIX/REUTEURS.

Before the Women's March in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI. 

Before the Women's March in India. PHOTO BY BHAYA CHANTI. 

New York City Women's March. PHOTO BY NICOLE CRAINE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES.

New York City Women's March. PHOTO BY NICOLE CRAINE FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES.

Women's March in Lisbon. PHOTO BY PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VIA GETTY IMAGES. 

Women's March in Lisbon. PHOTO BY PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE VIA GETTY IMAGES. 

Landsing, Michigan Women's March. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA MADAR/JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Landsing, Michigan Women's March. PHOTO BY SAMANTHA MADAR/JACKSON CITIZEN PATRIOT VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Women's March in Kenya. PHOTO BY THOMAS MUKOYA/RETEURS. 

Women's March in Kenya. PHOTO BY THOMAS MUKOYA/RETEURS. 

Iraq Women's March. PHOTO BY KHALID MOHAMMED/ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Iraq Women's March. PHOTO BY KHALID MOHAMMED/ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Indianapolis Women's March. PHOTO BY MYKAL MCELDOWNEY/THE INDIANPOLISH STAR VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Indianapolis Women's March. PHOTO BY MYKAL MCELDOWNEY/THE INDIANPOLISH STAR VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS. 

Ghana Women's March. PHOTO BY CRISTINA ALDEHUELA. 

Ghana Women's March. PHOTO BY CRISTINA ALDEHUELA. 

Women's March in Geneva. PHOTO BY SALVATORE DI NOLFL/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY. 

Women's March in Geneva. PHOTO BY SALVATORE DI NOLFL/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY. 

Women's March in Columbia. PHOTO BY LEONARDO MUNOZ/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY. 

Women's March in Columbia. PHOTO BY LEONARDO MUNOZ/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY. 

Berlin Women's March. PHOTO BY OLIVER WELKEN/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY. 

Berlin Women's March. PHOTO BY OLIVER WELKEN/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY. 

A group ready for the Women's March in Bangkok. PHOTO BY DIEGO AZUBEL/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY. 

A group ready for the Women's March in Bangkok. PHOTO BY DIEGO AZUBEL/EUROPEAN PRESS PHOTO AGENCY. 

Antarctica supporting the Women's March. PHOTO BY LINDA ZUNAS. 

Antarctica supporting the Women's March. PHOTO BY LINDA ZUNAS. 

Australian Photographer Follows Tribes, Pilgrimages, and Wanderlust

Australia’s name derives from the Latin word australis, meaning “southern”. Considering the commonwealth island’s location, the name is suitable. For photographers like Rebecca Geddes, Australia has been her home, her heritage, and her muse.

Driven by her passion, the Melbourne-based photographer captures several breathtaking landscapes with her camera. With her recent work in Kenya, Ethiopia and India, Geddes’ inspiring vision is a revelation of the humans and the humanity she has witnessed. Her work on her home soil is driven by the same inspiration.

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

In the summer months of 2016, Geddes created one of her most important projects abroad documenting aboriginal tribes in Ethiopia and Kenya. Titled The Abeni Project, Geddes’ documentary followed girls and women living in remote tribal villages. The project aimed to represent women who would not otherwise garner attention.

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

Geddes’ work has also brought her to countries neighbouring Australia. In India, she experienced Kumbh Mela, and found the spectacle particularly moving.

“The Kumbh Mela pilgrimage is the largest gathering of mankind, with around 120 million pilgrims participating over the course of two-months,” explains Geddes, “this project tested my resilience, my strength, and my vulnerability equally. It was a once in a lifetime project; the absolute mecca of humanity and still leaves me in awe.”

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

While Geddes’ work is an undoubtedly moving representation of her subjects and her experiences, her camera isn't a tool she can always use. 

“During my time in Mumbai. I crossed paths with a local family, of one brother and two sisters, all in their late eighties. Two of the sisters had been wheelchair-bound for over fifty years.”

“The property they resided in, on the second floor, was condemned with only a ladder for access to the living areas. The women had not been outside in over fifty years. Their brother would bring their groceries, medicine, and prepare their meals.”

Geddes recounts on the touching moment. One of the sisters’ she had met disapproved being photographed. This, was more important to Geddes than capturing a story, despite its potential success. 

“It was one of those incredible moments where everything just came together. The lighting, the composition, the subjects, it would have been a beautiful photo essay. Unfortunately one of the sisters decided it was not how she wanted to be remembered. I did try and talk her around, however at the end of the day, respect for their decision is paramount.”

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

IMAGE: REBECCA GEDDES

Geddes plans on continuing her ventures following women in nomadic families in Mongolia this summer. Her interest is in the way women in these communities live and how they continue to shape their way into the modern society.

Although her next project abroad isn’t until June, Geddes’ keeps busy by photographing the rest of her beautiful homeland. Her next immediate shoot will be documenting drought related issues in the Australian outback.

You can follow Rebecca Geddes and her work here.

Human Rights, Poignant Stories and Revolutionary Film

Photo: www.jayu.ca

JAYU is an organisation which works towards a world where freedom and liberty exist for everyone. Their mission; to share human rights stories from around the world using the arts, to encourage positive social change. And what better catalyst for change than film.

The JAYU film festival celebrated its fifth birthday in 2016. It’s come a long way since its beginnings in 2012. Originally called North Korean Rights Festival, it gave a voice to a number of North Korean defectors, as well as filmmakers and activists.

In 2016, the film festival widened its horizons and focused on women’s rights, LGBT rights, mental health, homelessness and immigration. In a world where people have become desensitized to the suffering of others due to the constant stream of news, information and images on the internet, it is now more important than ever to have a platform where the stories of those who actually have suffered, are portrayed.

 Clouds Over Sidra follows the daily routine of a young girl who fell victim to the political and brutal turmoil in Syria. Sidra now lives in Zaatari with 130,000 other Syrian refugees, half of whom are children. The film is shot in virtual reality in a hope to try and increase realism and empathy for the viewer.

Children in the Zataari Camp Photo: www.jayu.ca

 

With headlines announcing the fall of Aleppo and the genocidal acts and human rights abuses which have been caused there, it is now more important than ever to actually engage with and become fully aware of what is happening in Syria. Sidra personifies the suffering of a whole generation of children, whose lives will never be the same again.

The Shelter,  filmed and written by Fernand Melgar, tells the story of a number of people who are caught up in the tragedy that is homelessness. Filmed in Lausanne, Switzerland, this film shifts from telling the tale of everyday life in a homeless shelter, to the everyday lives of those living life homeless. Just like Clouds Over Sidra, it is a harrowing and personal story, connecting cold stats to real people. Tragically, this film could have been filmed anywhere. According to the City of Toronto, in 2016, the number of homeless people in Toronto reached a record high. This averaged out at about 4,000 people seeking help in shelters each night. Homelessness is undeniably a global problem, one that could easily be prevented. Arguably one of the first steps to solve this problem is to put a face to the victims.

Fernand Melgar in action. Photo: www.jayu.ca

 

Although the obstacles to freedom seem large and daunting, the JAYU film festival portrays a world where there is support and help for those in need. The projects shown during the festival reflect positive change and sustainable development. 

Award-Winning Photographer Grants Glimpse of Aleppo and its Citizens

With the Syrian civil war worsening daily, the capabilities of using photography as a way of understanding the harrowing collapse of Aleppo becomes increasingly apparent, as journalists, combatants, and civilians alike use the medium as a pivotal method of communication. Photographs grant an accurate representation of experiences, beliefs, and personal points of view.

Award-winning American photographer, Nish Nalbandian, shares his vision of the Syrian war. His new book, A Whole World Blind: War and Life in Northern Syria, is a collection of stories documenting the turmoil in Aleppo and Ma'arat Al-Nu’man.

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Image: Nish Nalbandian

The title of Nalbandian's book was inspired by his belief that those unaffected by the war turn a blind eye to its devastation and subsequent atrocities. His work aims to bring more attention to the Syrian crisis.

A Whole World Blind focuses on the day-to-day lives of those living with war. From average civilians who have risen to participate in combat, to children sitting in makeshift classrooms, to those living in refugee camps in Turkey, these are merely some of the subjects of interest in this moving collection of work.

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Image: Nish Nalbandian

The series is an emotional glimpse of life under the fear of war, and those trying to live their lives despite the circumstances they’ve succumbed to. Nalbandian's work captures the devastation of the land and ancient structures that has resulted in the destruction of one of Syria's oldest metropolises.

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Nalbandian's artistic style is reflective of a passion for portraiture photography and photojournalism. Composition of these two modes are found in several of his photo series, with his primary focus being to bring light to humanity and manages to find it in places where it is most scarce.

Nalbandian's muse is discovered in those who continue living their lives despite the daily threat of death. His goal is to ultimately capture what is truly happening Syria, but often finds himself documenting other incredible moments.

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Despite the ruins and turmoil, meaningful events manage to separate themselves from the ongoing chaos of war. He has also captured incredible human moments, such as newborns in nurseries, people passionately working at skilled trades, weddings, and funerals.

The events have inspired many to find hope during life’s bleakest moments, and rediscover beauty in fellow human beings.

However, Nalbandian acknowledges that his documentation is limited. His point-of-view only captures the side of the story that is accessible to him. Working with different Rebel groups of the Free Syrian Army, Nalbandian is aware of the immense suffering on the opposite lines.

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Image: Nish Nalbandian

Photographers, like Nish Nalbandian, have endlessly toiled to bring forth captivating images of the most important issue happening today. 

You can view Nish Nalbandian`s work here.

 

12 Things That Made the World a Better Place in 2016

With all the talk of how devastating 2016 has been, we thought it was important to point out that many good things have happened too! Good deeds don't always make the news, but every single day people who care a whole lot about their communities and this planet are doing small acts that make a big difference. Let’s ring in the new year by remembering that while we face many challenges on this planet, we are also capable of overcoming them by working together from the ground up. At the heart of change in this world, we find people.

Here are 12 of our amazing NGO partners that made the world a better place in 2016 and will continue to move us forward in 2017:

1. IndoRelief: Calais, France

The IndoRelief foundation proved to be so necessary to those in need of resources in India that they decided to extend a helping hand to newly-landed refugees living in the outskirts of Calais, France. "The Jungle" has been bulldozed since the these images were taken, however these efforts helped many refugees who were seeking comfort and help in a time on immense need. The act of storytelling and "being seen" through photography can be therapeutic in itself. These images show us that although the journey can be arduous, the human spirit prevails.

Photography by Caroline Petters.

2. Seeds of Peace

In 1993, award-winning journalist and author John Wallach and visionary Bobbie Gottschalk created Seeds of Peace and successfully opened the Seeds of Peace summer camp in Maine. Over a span of 21 years, Seeds of Peace has expanded its mission into South Asia, Europe the Middle East to promote peace in regions affected by conflict. Seeds of Peace implements a development model that focuses on three areas of change: personal transformation, interpersonal transformation and societal transformation and recognizes influential young leaders and hosts an educational program at its camp in Maine. These images portray the divide in Israel/Palestine, but they also reflect possibilities that come with the creation of powerful friendships and dialogue.

Photography by Maggie Svoboda.

3. South Vihar Welfare Society

Anima Baa founded the South Vihar Welfare Society for Tribal (ASHRAY) in response to the exploitation and injustice she witnessed as a child in indigenous communities in India. With the belief that even the most vulnerable communities can become sustainable with the right support, encouragement and education, ASHRAY serves women, children and those at risk. 

Photography by Angela Conners.

4. Orangutan Information Centre

The Orangutan Information Centre is an innovative organization in Sumatra that is not only helping to rescue orangutans and other wildlife who are illegally trafficked and exploited, but are working with local people to preserve and reclaim conserved rainforest lands. This video is one of 5 in the PWB TV web series.

Photography by Gita Defoe.

5. La Senda Verde Wildlife Refuge

La Senda Verde Wildlife Refuge in Bolivia provides a home and a "second chance" to wildlife rescued from illegal trafficking and other abusive situations. The founders of this organization struggle with the upkeep, but believe it is all worthwhile to make a difference in the animals' lives and for future generations. This is one of 5 episodes from the PWB TV web series.

Photography by Tracey Buyce and Kristi Odom.

6. Sunfarmer

SunFarmer not only brings sustainable electricity to communities off the grid in Nepal, but provides energy to local energy companies that service hospitals, schools and farms with the means of repaying loans for the equipment. Following Nepal's devastating earthquake in 2015, SunFarmer has made a huge impact in rebuilding efforts - responding immediately to provide basics like solar lanterns to powering health facilities in critical need. 

Photography by Kristin Lau.

7. Green Hope Colombia

Green Hope Colombia empowers indigenous people in the Colombian Amazon to reforest and protect their forest home through the cultivation of sustainable wood and fruit plantations. These plantations can also be sustainable income sources and are making a difference in the lives of people and for nature as well.

Photography by Artem Nazarov and Sienna Clough.

8. VARAS

VARAS wants to close the gap between urban and rural areas in Ghana by providing clean water projects, building schools, and healthcare centres. The organization has extended its wings far beyond its own projects by helping effect change in hospitals, and schools in rural Ghana. It's truly amazing what a small group of determined people can do!

Photography by Emma Changose. 

9. Tackle Africa: Tanzania

Based in Tanzania, Tackle Africa's s purpose is to educate youth and young adults on sexual health with a focus on HIV. Ten million young adults in the fifteen to twenty-four age group live with HIV worldwide, and they also account for forty-percent of new infections. What makes the sex education program at Tackle Africa so successful is that they use football (soccer), a popular sport in many parts of Africa, to encourage, inspire and engage youth in the importance of sexual health. 

Photography by Daniel Davis and Aga Szydlik.

10. Sristi

An independent farming community in India is challenging the stigma against mentally-disabled people by providing them with horticultural jobs that not only restore a sense of dignity, but help the healing process. How amazing is that?

Photography by Anica James.

11. Maya Traditions

Based in Guatemala, Maya Traditions aims to prevent the loss of Maya tradition and works to preserve it by acting as a support, advocate and go-between, connecting Mayan women with a global fair-trade market as well as offering vital social programs for female Maya artists and their families.

Photography by Robyne Hayes.

12. Niños con Valor

Niños con Valor helps Bolivian children with troubled pasts get the full range of help that they need. The organization is important because many residential schools in Bolivia practice abuse and neglect, and these children often have nowhere else to go. 

Photography by Laura Crowell.

The Best 3 Holiday Gifts From PWB

It's that time of year again. With the holidays only 5 days away, shopping centres around the globe are packed with frantic last-minute shoppers who are struggling to find that perfect gift. The online shopping realm isn't much better, with silly gimmicks that force you to spend a certain amount to qualify for free online shipping. And speaking of shipping, at this point that gift isn't arriving until the New Year if you're lucky. 

Sumatran Orangutan Society, by GITA DEFOE

Sumatran Orangutan Society, by GITA DEFOE

Instead of fighting the swarm of retail shoppers and angrily refreshing your browser to proceed to an online checkout (only to be denied because you're $1 from that *free* shipping), consider a gift from Photographers Without Borders. A gift from PWB gives back to the local organizations and photographers that we work hard to support. Plus, the value and quality of these gifts don't fade over time. Here are our top three picks for the holiday season.

Pick a Personal Print

Looking for a beautiful print to hang in your home or office? Tired of buying the same stock art as everybody else? PWB has an incredible selection of prints for sale that instantly take you around the world. Almost all of the images that we've featured in our print magazine are up for grabs, so whether you've fallen in love with the solemn gaze of an orangutan, light up at the smiles from happy children, or crave the breathtaking beauty of a faraway land that you've always wanted to visit, PWB has you covered. If you're shopping for a professional or hobbyist photographer, purchasing a print is a great way to acknowledge their passions. If there's a special place they hold close to their heart, whether from a previous trip or a part of a bucket list, inscribe a personal message on the back. Maybe the print is a reminder of a memory. Or a promise to go there someday. It's the little things that make a world of difference. We promise it's better than anything you'll find at Chapters, Indigo or Hallmark this holiday season.

Tibet World, by HIMACHAL PRADESH

Tibet World, by HIMACHAL PRADESH

Mail a Magazine

If the person you're shopping for loves a good story, or enjoys reading in general, PWB's print magazine makes a wonderful gift. There's something about holding a book in your hands and actually turning the pages, as opposed to reading online. Our magazines are rich in storytelling and transport you to another place through their colourful pages.

ATBAWA, by AMBER KISSNER

ATBAWA, by AMBER KISSNER

While you'll find incredible content on our blog, the magazine is where we feature some of the best photojournalism from around the world. We save our bigger stories for print. It's also where you can finally hear the stories of our photographers who have gone on assignment. In the past, they've shared some of the most incredible tales, from heart-warming to tear-jerkers and everything in between that you won't find online. PWB's talented journalists and photographers come together twice a year to explore complex issues from across the globe and highlight them in a visually-stunning print format.

Maun Animal Welfare Society, by MARGAUX YIU

Maun Animal Welfare Society, by MARGAUX YIU

If you enjoy the shorter pieces we post weekly, you'd be amazed at the other side of the story we tell in print! The PWB magazine is available for sale online, and past issues dating as far back as our very first one can still be purchased. Give one as a gift, or buy the entire collection! You can even subscribe your loved one to the magazine and have it arrive at their home. The print magazine is saturated with high-quality imagery that tells the stories of the people, places, and cultures of grassroots organizations PWB supports.  Whether it's the writing or the photos, the full magazine is sure to impress.

Wow With a Workshop

Many of us long to see the world. But sometimes when we finally buy that plane ticket, pack our bags, and arrive in that new place, it's not what we expect. Too often, resorts and holiday packages advertise a very commercialized method of travel. It's rare to actually explore and experience a new culture if you can't step foot off the resort. And sure, the pictures of the pool and the occasional animal that wanders by are great, but what if you want more?

Long Way Home, Ron B. Wilson

Long Way Home, Ron B. Wilson

Photographers Without Borders has been running a series of high-intensity educational workshops that are designed for the wanderer in all of us. When you go to school with PWB, you go abroad and dive headfirst into a new country and culture and the best part is that you do it all hands-on. The PWB workshops cater to a wide range of individuals ranging from amateur hobbyists to professional photographers. If you've just picked up a DSLR and want to get some practice, our workshops are a fantastic place to start.

Maun Animal Society, by MARGAUX YIU

Maun Animal Society, by MARGAUX YIU

Taught by certified PWB ambassadors, students get a chance to learn various forms of photography, complete assignments in the field and get to experience the trip of a lifetime surrounded by like-minded professionals. Plus, you'll probably earn a lifelong friend or 10 along the way. Our most recent workshops have taken us to the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, and Cambodia. Join us in Nicaragua for the next one, led by internationally-acclaimed photographer and director of photography Jeffrey Garriock and learn how to master wildlife photography.

Are you still finishing up some last-minute holiday shopping? Visit our website for more great gift ideas and give a gift that gives back. From single prints to magazines; workshops and internships, there's so much to give this holiday season.

All featured images available for sale in the print shop.

#MoreThanAnImage Campaign Highlights Personal Triumphs Behind the Lens

In rare but extraordinary cases, photography focuses on the person looking through the lens. English retailer Wex Photographic has initiated a campaign that aims to explore what photography means to the individual. The series titled #MoreThanAnImage follows Giles Duley, Daniel Regan, and Hannah Laycock, three photographers that have faced compromising real life circumstances that have shaped the way they view the world from behind the lens. 

Giles Duley’s relationship with the artistic medium began at the age of 18. Initially a live music photographer, Duley felt unfulfilled and would go on to seek more purposeful work as a care worker for a boy with autism. The boy’s family suggested documenting their son’s life with photos, which lead to incredibly powerful results. This redefined Duley’s understanding of the power of images.

“I wanted photography to be an advocate for those people; I wanted to tell their stories,” Duley explains. His interest in documenting civilians caught in conflict became his primary focus.

PHOTO: Giles Duley 

PHOTO: Giles Duley 

His chance came on a trip to Afghanistan when he and his platoon were ambushed. Duley stepped on an IED, leading to the tragic loss of three of his limbs.

While his life faced inevitable change, the passion he had for his work became stronger than ever. “Whatever happens, I can still be a photographer," Duley said.

Duley put his talents into action. His photography helped raise a quarter of a million dollars for a Syrian woman who had been paralyzed by a sniper. Duley says that his work completely changed that woman and her family’s life.

“I never thought I could change the world with my photographs,” Duley said. “But if I can inspire just one person who can change the world, then I’ve done my job.”

The #MoreThanAnImage series continues with the story of Daniel Regan, and his battle with personal conflict.

“When I look back at the relationship that I have with photography and how helpful it’s been, it is really clear that photography has definitely saved my life” explains Regan. “Photography for me has been very therapeutic, very calming and very soothing.”

Since the age of twelve Regan attributed photography as means of escape; a portal into a different world. It coincided with his struggles with mental health. While studying at university, Regan, tried to take his own life after an overwhelming series of events. He says photography saved him. It also reinvented his purpose in life and his views of the art form.

PHOTO: Daniel Regan 

PHOTO: Daniel Regan 

The campaign continues with the story of Hannah Laycock, who has also struggled with a personal battle pertaining to her physical health. She says she found her voice in images and that her battle with Multiple Sclerosis made photography a cathartic outlet for her condition.  

 “It’s a tool that I use to better understand what I’m going through” explains Laycock.  “Photography came into my life and that’s when I felt that it was my way of being able to paint, but painting with light.”

Her father, diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, would initiate Laycock to utilize photography as a platform to explore what she was going through. Her unique style of photography integrates different modes of fine art, visual art, and symbolic imagery that capture her father’s diagnosis, her own diagnosis and the effects it has, and continues to have on her family.

IMAGE: Hannah Laycock 

IMAGE: Hannah Laycock 

 “There isn’t an hour that goes by where I don’t notice my M.S., but with photography, I’m getting closer to that sensation of forgetting my condition," Hannah explained. “There’s always that glimmer of hope that there’s going to be a positive out of a negative.” 

The #MoreThanAnImage campaign has garnered extremely positive feedback, with Wex Photographic planning on releasing more videos in the near future. While these three brave photographers have shared inspiring stories, the role photography seems to have played a vital role in the lives of many. Wex Photographic conducted a survey of over 750 participants. Conclusions stated that 74% of people claim photography had changed their lives.

You can watch Wex Photographic’s #MoreThanAnImage series here.

PWB TV Finale Looks at the Human Side of Orangutan Conservation

Photo by Gita Defoe 

Photo by Gita Defoe 

 

The first season of PWB has come to a close with episode 5 of the first season. In this intriguing chapter, PWB followed the work of those the Orangutan Information in Sumatra , Indonesia. The organization is dedicated to conserving the lives of the endangered Sumatran orangutan and the rainforest that they inhabit. Due to the expanse of plantation, much of the rainforest has been destroyed. OIC Founder Panut Hadisiswoyo found his calling in educating the surrounding communities in the importance of maintaining the rainforest and conserving the lives of these beautiful, but endangered species. “I love trees so much, I want to grow trees, trees are hope.”  

Darma, a passionate park ranger describes the respect essential to encouraging the thriving life of the orangutan, as well as the Sumatran elephant, rhino and tigers that also inhabit the area. "They are wild animals, they are meant to be observed, not disturbed.”

Watch the final episode and learn more about the Orangutan Information Centre and their efforts to preserve the Sumatran rainforest and wildlife. 

The Orangutan Information Centre is also unique in its consideration of the human aspect of what it takes to conserve the lives of the Sumatran orangutan and wildlife. Locals are educated and made aware of how maintaining the rainforest can further enhance their own lives, providing them with a source of food and water. 

Stay tuned in 2017 for the announcement of season 2!

Reflections of Phnom Penh, Cambodia: A Photo Essay On Past and Present Life

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

As told to Photographers Without Borders by Anita Bonnarens.

To travel across Cambodia is to travel within. I returned home transformed in a profound way. Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh offers you a glimpse through a keyhole into the dark interior of the Khmer Rouge, who were responsible for the deaths of as many as one-fourth of Cambodia's population from 1975-1979. 

Past and present: looking outside from within the Khmer Prison watching visitors to Cambodia take in its history. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Past and present: looking outside from within the Khmer Prison watching visitors to Cambodia take in its history. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution centre.

One of the Spartan interrogation rooms within Pol Pot's secret prison. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens.

One of the Spartan interrogation rooms within Pol Pot's secret prison. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens.

Our tour guide lost several family members during the genocide. In a calm, deep and thoughtful voice, he shared with us the memories of a horrible past. The stories that took place between these walls impacted all of us and him, all over again. The horrible facts and numbers reflected in his bright eyes, while his body language gave away the incomprehensibility all of us present were experiencing.

Mr. Om Chambroeun on his job: "Some days it's okay; others, it's not." PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Mr. Om Chambroeun on his job: "Some days it's okay; others, it's not." PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Each of the almost 6,000 S-21 portraits that have been captured illustrates a story of shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Putting the present day in context with history, your travel outside becomes a travel inside; a journey of reflection and soul-searching. One's sense of gratitude and appreciation for life falls apart and takes on new dimensions.

A glimpse inside and outside the prison's walls, representing past and present; hope and grief. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

A glimpse inside and outside the prison's walls, representing past and present; hope and grief. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. One of them is Bou Meng. Forty years after the Pol Pot took control of the country, he still returns to the cells every day to remind people of the atrocities that once took place there.

Meeting Bou Meng was akin to meeting the souls of all Cambodians. He was one of the friendliest and optimistic people I have met. Cambodia is a wonderful and beautiful country filled with inspiring people. I hope you find yourself there some time.

Bou Meng, a survivor from the Khmer Rouge Prison, S-21. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

Bou Meng, a survivor from the Khmer Rouge Prison, S-21. PHOTO: Anita Bonnarens

And if you do, consider reaching out a helping hand.

Everybody in Cambodia has been affected by the Khmer Rouge. Education, religion, economy and healthcare all stopped as teachers, doctors, monks, merchants and the elite were first targeted in the genocide. 

After the Khmer Rouge fell, Cambodians focused on growing and finding food and on looking for members of their families. Post-traumatic stress syndrome was rampant, but luxuries like diagnosis and treatment did not exist. Children born after the Khmer Rouge have not escaped — they were raised by traumatized family members. The cycle of poverty and abuse continues today. 

The majority of Cambodians live in poverty and 40% of children are malnourished. The average income is less than $3 US per day, and many people live on much less. Small amounts of money go a long way to changing peoples’ lives.

For a full list of NGO's that support volunteering in Cambodia, please click here  

The Importance of Education in Stopping Wildlife Trafficking

 

PWB TV fourth episode in the first season is here, and this time it explores the dedication and efforts of La Senda Verde.

The non-governmental organization, founded in 2003, focuses on caring for the sick and mistreated wildlife in Coroico, Bolivia. It also makes a large effort to promote beneficial environmental education.

"At La Senda Verde, we want to concentrate our efforts on education." Co-founder (the other being Marcelo Levy) Vicky Ossio believes that if the public is not educated on the issue of animal trafficking in the area, then it would be difficult to foresee a future where it would not exist. The harmonious fusion of wildlife care and emphasis on educating the surrounding public on the harmful impact of animal trafficking has allowed this organization to thrive.

Watch PWB TV as we document La Senda Verde: 

Read more about this wonderful organization and various ways you can contribute here:

http://www.sendaverde.com/

Watch the trailer for episode 5 on PWB as they explore  Orangutan Information Centre in Sumatra: 

 

 

See the 2016 Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners!

By: Jessie Golem

The Natural Museum of History in London, England, has named it’s winners of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Taken from the website, the competition states that the “Wildlife Photographer of the Year champions ethical photography. Images are chosen for their artistic composition, technical innovation, and truthful interpretation of the natural world.” The competition, about to enter into its 53rd year, showcases the stunning work of wildlife photographers from around the world. The winning images will be included in a major exhibition at the Natural History Museum before going on a worldwide tour, ensuring that these beautiful and profound images are seen by millions of people worldwide.

Adult Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winner: Tim Laman, Entwined Lives

Adult Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winner: Tim Laman, Entwined Lives

“A vital story is captured in one remarkable frame as this orangutan climbs an emergent tree in its ever-dwindling habitat," Lewis Blackwell, Chair of the Jury said. "The story is well-known but we need outstanding photography like this to bring it across to us afresh. It touches our hearts and our minds – and just might help support actions to stop the destruction.”

Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winner: Gideon Knight, The Moon and the Crow

Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winner: Gideon Knight, The Moon and the Crow

Speaking about the importance of imagery, Blackwell said the following: “If an image could be a poem, it would be like this. The highly intelligent and very useful carrion crow is a creature rarely loved. Here it is transformed into an image of beauty, within a perfect composition. The image epitomizes what the judges are looking for – a fresh observation on our natural world, delivered with artistic flair.” 

Here are a few more winners from this year's competition:

Mammals Category Winner: Simon Stafford, The Aftermath

Birds Category Winner: Ganesh H. Shankar – Eviction Attempt

Plants and Fungi Category Winner: Valter Binotto – Wind Composition

Underwater Category Winner: Tony Wu- Snapper Party

Urban Category Winner: Nayan Khanolkar – The Alley Cat

The Wildlife Photojournalist Award Winner: Paul Hilton-The Pangolin Pit

To see more of this year's awards, click here

First Episode of PWB TV is Officially Launched

Today, Photographers Without Borders broadcasts the first episode of its new documentary series PWB TV.

This week’s episode focuses on SunFarmer, a Nepalese NGO which provides solar power access to people in remote areas of the country.

“We are very excited to give people an intimate glimpse at the work our photographers do around the world," says PWB founder Danielle Da Silva.

The first season of PWB TV will run for 4 episodes, taking viewers from a wildlife sanctuary in the Amazonian basin, to peace-building dialogues in the Middle-East.

Subscribe to PWB on YouTube or Vimeo, and keep an eye on the PWB newsfeed for more information. New episodes will be available online each Thursday at seven.

Spirit and Community: Balinese Tradition Captured in Stunning Photos

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

A sacred Balinese ceremony occurs that longs to purify the bodies of hundreds of Balinese locals through the act of cremation. On September 12th, local Balinese photographer Nengah Ardika captured the ancient practice with an evocative eye. Hundreds of individuals from the surrounding areas and villages of Paleg Kaja Hamlet, East Tianyar Village, Kubu, Karangasem, were transported to Ban Village in Bali. Here occurs a multi-faceted process called ngaben masal.

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

Ngaben masal is an event that allows families within less economical means to participate in traditional acts that allow their loved one's souls to be cleansed before departing for their journey to reach Sun ia Loka (soul world or nirvana). When a family member passes, a temporary resting place is chosen until Ngaben is organized and financed within the community. The impermanent coffin, on the day of the ceremony, is placed within a sarcophagus that resembles an ox (Lemu). Depending on the caste placement of the family, others may opt to have their deceased descendant placed in an alternative animal, such as a dragon or lion, in a more elaborate ceremony called Pelebon. Before being placed on September 12th, 330 corpses were divided into 150 sawa tua (mature corpses) and 180 sawa muda / ngelungahang (young corpses). The hundreds of sarcophagus' are brought to the cemetery in a brightly decorated and dramatic procession. The procession is intentionally marched in a uneven line in an effort to ward off potentially evil spirits from the deceased. Before the individual bodies are placed within their selected Lemus, they are brought through the procession in a Waddah, an intricately designed tower with levels that indicate the social status of the deceased. The strength, effort and motivation of those participating in pulling the tower through Ban Village can be seen in Ardika's powerfully stark photos. Once moved into their sarcophagus, they are then burned, engaging in the climax of the tradition. Twelve days following the cremation, the ashes are scattered into the sea as the final step in the procedure of cleansing that individual's soul.

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

The ceremony is a symbolic action that longs to bring back the five elements that configure the human body (Panca Maha Buta) to its bodily source in order prevent the soul's passage from being blocked to Sunia Loka. These five elements relate to the body's temperature ( Teja), solid portions of the body like nails, hair, muscle and bone (Pertiwi), blood and tear sources (Apah), and the air element of the breath (Bayu). The spirit is then free to depart from the body when cremation has occurred.

Ardika documents a seizing event rich in culture, light, love and communal support that inspires and moves those unaware of such uplifting and tenacious traditions. 

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

PHOTO BY Nengah Ardika

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out