BERLIN PHOTO EXHIBIT

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BOX 1

BOX 1 FRONT:

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Afghan Refugee Processing Center, Pakistan, 2001.

 WHAT DID YOU AND I GET PISSED OFF AT TODAY?

It’s hard to be happy unless you’re thankful, and it’s difficult to be thankful without some context. These kids provide context not by comparison between what we have and what they don’t, but rather by the inspiration we get from seeing how full a life they live with so little. 

 

BOX 1 BACK:

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Ruhengeri, Rwanda, 2010.

WE CAN’T LET OURSELVES GET NUMB, DISTRACTED, OR UNINTERESTED.

The year that the Rwandan genocide was happening, we were watching the O. J. Simpson trial instead. Sometimes it feels like we’re sleepwalking. Whatever we do or don’t do, we need to at least pay attention. The truth matters.

 

 

BOX 2

BOX 2 FRONT:

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Tibetan Refugee Camp #4, Near Sera Jey Monastery, Bylakuppe, South India, 2005.

HOPE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT PEOPLE NEED TO MOVE FORWARD.

The slightest ray of hope can ignite the human spirit’s ability to overcome—that’s the power of the invisible sun. I hope that meeting the kids in this exhibit  gives you better perspective on the challenges you face in your own life and, as a result, helps you to be more thankful and more ready to find ways to make a difference in the lives of others. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. But maybe you will.

 

BOX 2 BACK

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Kabul, Afghanistan, 2002. 

My motivation for introducing you to these children is not so you can say, “Oh, look at those poor kids. I want to give them a hug.” Hopefully you will take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in your own life, and find ways to give people hope—not just by giving money, but by giving something of yourself.

 

 

BOX 3

BOX 3 FRONT:

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Jamal Mena, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2002.

AN AMERICAN IN AFGHANISTAN, A WHITE PERSON IN RWANDA, AND A JEW IN PALESTINE.

I’ve spent much of the last nineteen years living in traumatized communities around the world while doing the work of our family foundation. I met the children in this exhibit during those travels.

During my family’s years on the road, our most transcendent moments came when least expected, from the joys and frustrations of sharing in ordinary people’s everyday lives. These photographs were born out of those everyday moments.

I chose to use only images of children because it is through the strength and hope in their young eyes that the power of the invisible sun is so compelling. I photographed them from weeks after September 11, 2001, until December 2018. They live in alleyways, refugee camps, slums, and remote villages from Afghanistan, and Pakistan to Rwanda, Sri Lanka, and the Tibetan Diaspora. They are orphans, child soldiers, refugees, and just plain kids dealing with war, conflict, natural disaster, abuse, displacement, or simply being born into an incredibly unlucky situation.

These kids face daily challenges that bend my spirit and break my heart. Meeting them has nourished and energized me. I hope it does the same for you. The hope in these kids’ eyes is their gift to us—a light to nourish our optimism and stimulate our action.

 

BOX 3 BACK:

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Central Market, Kabul, Afghanistan, 2003.

ARE WE ENTERING THEIR WORLD OR ARE THEY ENTERING OURS?

Real connection is about making someone feel like you care. Not as an object to be photographed, but as a flesh-and-blood human being with dreams, fears, and incomprehensible challenges.

 

BOX 4

BOX 4 FRONT: 

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Balakot, North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), Pakistan, 2005. 

YOU CAN FAKE A SMILE WITH YOUR MOUTH, BUT IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO FAKE A SMILE WITH YOUR EYES.

This girl’s village was destroyed by an earthquake a week before I took this photograph, but even in the midst of mind-numbing devastation there is still strength and spirit in her eyes.

 

BOX 4 BACK:

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Bhaktapur, Nepal, 2004.

THERE HAS TO BE AN INVISIBLE SUN

IT GIVES ITS HEAT TO EVERYONE

THERE HAS TO BE AN INVISIBLE SUN

THAT GIVES US HOPE WHEN THE WHOLE DAY’S DONE

—STING

 

BOX 5

BOX 5 FRONT:

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Muslim School, Weligama, Sri Lanka, 2001. 

When I photographed this boy at his school, Sri Lanka had been in a continuous state of civil war for eighteen years. Three years later, Weligama was one of the villages hit hardest by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed at least thirty-five thousand people in Sri Lanka. I’ve always wondered if this little boy survived. His school was less than one hundred meters from the sea. 

BOX 5 BACK:

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Orphaned brothers, Murambi, Rwanda, 2005.

 Giving people hope can sound like a soft and cuddly cliché. But from my experience, hope is as strategic as it gets.

 

RENDERINGS:

 

 

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Made by Tess