MissionFOTO was asked to come and attend a week of camping with LDM, a ministry from Anderson, Indiana, to document their work with the learning disabled. We had not been there very long the first day, when we learned how difficult it was to put the camera down. During the week we shot 16 hours of tape and over 1,000 slides. Thirty-two Campers ranging in age from 18 to 82 had come for a week in the woods living in cabins and sharing their lives with fifty Companions who had volunteered to help make the week possible for these folks who otherwise would never have such a chance. The love, joy and serventhood that we witnessed during that week filled Val and I up beyond description. Never before had we ever witnessed college and high school students willing to come and devote themselves so that these folks might have their camp week, something that they planned for all year long.
World Trade Center
With the tragedy of September 11th, we have seen photo after photo of the burning towers and the devastation we were slowly made aware of over the ensuing weeks. I include this photo of the Towers I shot from the Empire State Building one cold night in February of 2001. With it, I invite us all to remember the work that has yet to be completed in helping the helpless and oppressed. The WTC tragedy was a symbol of financial success and opulence. The inhuman destruction of it and the deaths of over 3,000 people was a call for America to seek out the needy and offer a helping hand.
Corinth Gypsy Girls
My wife, Valerie, and I were staying in modern Corinth, Greece with plans to see ancient Corinth that day. On our way to a taxi stand, we were met by these two young girls and their request for handouts. Even though we refused to help them with cash, one decided that a little theatrical audition still might shake loose some coins. After a grand presentation by this precocious actress, we found it difficult to pass up the chance to encourage her dramatic ambitions.
Our guide in Havana lived in a pre-Castro office building on Moro Calle in Havana Viejo. One morning, I asked her if we could see her apartment. We found her mother at home in a small second floor windowless room lit by a single bare bulb, just large enough for a double bed and some cardboard boxes filled with clothes. A small gas cook stove sat in the corner. The bathroom was located down the hall. The air in the apartment was stagnant, hot and humid. In an outside corner room on the same floor lived an elderly gentleman who believed he was Fidel and produced an old ragged B+W photo to prove his point. I wished that Niurka, our guide, could have had an outside room for both herself and her mother.
Mae Suai, Thailand
A trail in the mountains of northern Thailand near the Myanmar border brought us to a Mien tribe village. Their representative to our group was this tiny ambassador, whose curiosity with the camera was overwhelming. After I photographed her, I detected some disappointment in her that I was unable to produce a “Polaroid of her moment”, as a predecessor of mine had obviously been able to do. I did a quick sketch of her in my journal there alongside the dirt path and gave her the drawing.
Hai Duong, North Vietnam
We had bought fresh fruit that morning in Haiphong and had some with us when we entered the village along a narrow earthen walkway bordered on each side by rice paddies. The fruit was welcomed at many homes that afternoon, but none as readily as at a home where I found two young boys excited about having their photograph taken by a very tall American with papayas and mangos in his camera bag.