Through photography we can understand more broadly the world around us. Though our planet is abundant with inherant beauty and it's multitude of wonderful elements, there is also a dark side our many small and large human conflicts. The picture may serve to give light to these conflicts, to prevent them from being buried in the news and consumed at a rate unimaginable 20 years ago. It can offer mute testimony filled with words that seek to awaken our consciences. Not everyone can help change many of the problems in our world but I firmly believe that the only way to start is to begin a change within us.
Becoming more aware of the world around us is a first tentative step. To use our intelligence, to learn names and places, situations that can and should be avoided, is the first decision needed to begin the change to help. Some of these sites of change may be the Bwaila Maternity Hospital, and the Agape Orphanage. Sites and facilities, institutions, individuals positively helping other people. Small and large projects away from the spotlight that require our full attention. It is not merely about raising some money and feeling better, it is important to look through the pictures and realising what happens as you try to solve, understand and to be willing to discuss this with other people and try to help each of us both their own way and as you can. Short stories that are of a great importance.
There are still many walls to break down as we see in Northern Ireland and every paradise has its dark side, as in Brazil. To paraphrase Jim Rohn, it's not about the bad things that happen but what do we do about them to change.
One more thing, we have made a great effort to offer F8Mag iPad format. You can now find in the App Store. Thanks to all who make possible this will grow and bebetter every day.
Enjoy the issue.
Interview by Juliana Semenovah | Larry Louie
Would you give a brief walk through the Seva project?
I have documented several Seva project around the world. Seva is an international organization whose mission is to eliminate preventable blindness around the world with a strong program in gender equality and equal access to care. Their method is to partner up with an existing local facility providing them with the funding and expertise to conduct eye care programs with the mandate that hopefully within 10 years Seva can move on and the facility will have become self sustaining on their own.
My work with Seva involves documenting their facilities and the work in these facilities; where the funding is going to and what differences they are making in the lives of the locals. I always enjoy traveling to areas that are conducting "eye camps". These are remote regions that do not have a permanent primary eye care facility and we actually bring the full clinic and medical personal into these areas for a couple of days to look after the people in the region. We have just returned from an amazing trip in Humla, Western Nepal in Oct conducting a 3 day eye camp on the Northwestern foothills of the Himalayas. We had fund raised for this eye camp since March 2011. Our facilitators in Nepal broadcast the dates of the eye camp over the FM radio throughout the villages located in the foothills of the Himalayas. We then traveled up and met up with our Nepalese medical team in Simikot. We set up camp at the Citta hospital there. Over a 3 day period, we saw over 900 people and conduct 80 eye surgeries, handed out hundreds of bottles of eye drops and over 800 pairs of sunglasses and reading glasses. I was there not only to document the eye camp but also the lives of the people living there. Stories of the joys and simplicity of their lives along with the harshness of their living conditions at high altitude with no running water or electricity. It was an incredible experience.
Project: From 8 to 17 | Paolo Patruno
Rachel Mac Leod is an English midwife who has practiced for nearly 14 years in Spain before moving to Malawi, where she worked since 2008 as a clinical midwife in the labor ward of the Bwaila Hospital, in the capital Lilongwe.
Rachel is not employed by the government but she is the local representative from The Rose Project, an Irish Charity who founded the new Bwaila Maternity. Because of her capabilities and experience Rachel is a point of reference for all the other midwives, especially the youngest ones; she is a facilitator not only in the official trainings, but most of all she is a daily trainer, through her actions constantly teaching and motivating the other midwives, ensuring that all women and their babies are getting the highest possible standard of care. Rachel works with intensity, energy and enthusiasm facing the emergency situations at Bwaila; she often visits at their villages women who delivered at the hospital, to control and verify if the babies are growing healthy and in good conditions.
Since Rachel was 14 years old her dream was to work in Africa. Arriving in Malawi was the birth of that dream that is still continuing.
Interview by Miguel Moya | Samih Güven
Where is the AGAPE orphanage?
The AGAPE Orphanage, Boarding House and Learning Center is located in Mae Sot, a small Thai town along the Myanmar (Burma) / Thailand border in the province of Tak.
What can you tell us about this organization?
AGAPE is a community based non-profit organization. Founded by David Min Niang, an illegal refugee pastor and former mason, 6 years ago, AGAPE has the mission to provide a home and education to orphans, abandoned refugee Burmese / Karen children. The center is as well welcoming homeless children and poor refugee families children.
What emotions were prominent within you when you returned home after spending the day shooting at the orphanage?
It's difficult to say... But rather quickly I felt that moreover a responsibility I had a moral commitment with these kids as well as the staff that trusted me and allowed me to do this project.
After this experience, do you still believe in the good of man?
I never believed in "the good of man"... I just believe that there are few good men and women. And my work with David and his staff has been just a confirmation of the first feeling I had when I met them... these persons are really rare and great ones.
Interview by Jim Mortram | Tom Stanworth
Can you explain your journey into making documentary projects?
I arrived in Afghanistan in 2006 to work as an analyst and was initially drawn to the dramatic landscape. However, the intensity of the wider political, social and historical reality inevitably gave rise to strong feelings. Documentary photography became a means of exploration and rationalization; a means for recording fragments of understanding that would otherwise vanish.
You've made a transition from landscape to documentary – why?
Landscapes began to feel limiting and could not provide the engagement I needed in light of the experiences I was having. The transition was gradual and landscapes led to environmental portraits that morphed into more conventional documentary shots and culminated in portraits of the addicts in the Russian Cultural Center. It was an evolution of skills and experience as I got closer to the people in whom I was really interested. Everything else became context and explanation.
You've said of your work 'It is a compulsion to explore ‘what we think we are’ and as often ‘what we believe we are not.’... does working on the projects you do garner any answers for you?
It does, but often in the form of perspective and outlook, rather than crystalline realization. The act of getting inside a situation or experience lays it open and there is often a sense of welling understanding that is hard to articulate with words and that takes time to absorb. It is perhaps better described as a form of empathy. My projects are connected, at least partially, by the central theme of ‘what it means to be alive’ and so form part of the wider learning experience of living and reflection.
Interview by Miguel Moya | Paulo Pampolin
Your photography is crude, unadorned, at street level. It manages to convey a close proximity to the subjects who photographs. How do you get so close?
Rarely I photograph with teleobjective lenses. I like being close to what I shoot, to feel the atmosphere around. Does not shoot against the wishes of the person. I try to respect the conditions of each. Except when it comes to reporting on the traffic or crime.
The approach is of a slow, careful, with respect to to the persons. Never arrive with the camera around my neck or clicking. Except in situations of action. But overall, I start conversation with people, get involved with each story I hear. I realize that often, so what people want is to be heard. Homeless people in general have lost all emotional ties they once had with someone. Need to beware of everything, because the street is the survival of the fittest, violence reigns and be aware is to be a matter of survival. Maybe that's why they are so secretive, rude.
When you stop to listen to them, pay attention, they surprised, they disarm. So, I get the necessary approach and then take the camera without frightening them. It is a relationship of respect.
Project: Unstable Grounds | Cattleya Jaruthavee
The influx of Burmese migrant workers into Thailand began in the early 1990’s due to a lack of work and government sanctions on employment opportunities. With cross border traveling for economic reasons made difficult for Burmese citizens, the struggle of a legal existence outside Myanmar is close to impossible for the ‘average citizen.’ The result of such inhibitions has given rise to a population of ‘undocumented migrant workers’ in Thailand.
For Thailand, economic rewards of migrant labour are highly sought after. Not only do members of authoritative sectors of society play a large part in enabling the entry of illegal migrant workers but also businesses, which require hard labour, welcome Burmese due to their low wage expectations and willingness to partake in jobs, which Thais are not interested in.
The contradiction of Thai government officials launching regular crackdowns on undocumented migrant workers whilst employers continue to hire, gives rise to daily vulnerability amongst the Burmese community.