P A G E: (POWER OF THE INVISIBLE SUN MUSIC VIDEO)
***** COMMENT: The entire first room could be an audio/visual installation showing the 4minute Power of the Invisible Sun music video. It could have multiple screens, one screen, or a fabric that hangs down with the video projected on it. I’d like to have people enter the room in groups (about every 10minutes) so that you are going on this journey as a community, recognizing that we are all traveling down this road together.
P A G E
My motivation in bringing these images together for people to meet is not so they say, “Oh look at those poor kids, I want to give them a hug” Hopefully people take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in their own life, and in return, go find ways to give people hope, not just by giving money, but by giving something of themselves.
Visit these kids and remember the power of the human spirit to overcome. Visit these kids when you need to remember how lucky you are. Visit these kids and ask yourself if you’re doing enough to help.
Everyone has to connect their own dots. I hope the experience of this exhibit, in some small way, helps you to connect yours.
P A G E: (RWANDAN BOY’S – EYES)
*****COMMENT: This could either be a video where it starts very zoomed into the eyes and then pulls back OR it could be a very large print so that the eyes are really big. If it were a print, I’d want it to be 2meters wide.
P A G E (ABOUT BEING EYEBALL TO EYEBALL)
P A G E: (AFGHAN BOY’S – EYES)
*****COMMENT: This photo would be 1meter wide
P A G E : (PAKISTANI GIRL’S – EYES)
*****COMMENT: This photo would be 1meter wide
P A G E: (INTRO FROM THE WEBSITE)
I’ve spent most of the last 15 years living in war zones, refugee camps and traumatized communities around the world while doing the world of my family foundation. I’ve worked as a white person in Rwanda, an American in Afghanistan and a Jew in Palestine.
I met the people who I’ve photographed during those travels. They live in alleyways, refugee camps, slums and remote villages from Afghanistan to Rwanda to Nepal. They are refugees, orphans, child soldiers and just plain kids dealing with war, conflict, natural disaster, abuse and displacement. I was face-to-face with them because I was there to help, which is a big part of the connection you see in their eyes.
These kids face daily challenges that bend my spirit and break my heart. Meeting them has made me more thankful and probably a lot more useful.
P A G E: (INTRO FROM THE BOOK)
I’m writing this at the Hôtel des Mille Collines in Kigali, Rwanda (the “Hotel Rwanda”). Ghosts walk these hallways. Yet 14 years after the genocide, Rwanda is bursting with opportunities and possibilities. Writing about hope from within these tortured walls feels a little eerie but very appropriate. Rwanda’s amazing progress is such a poignant example of the power of hope.
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: the power of the invisible sun.
16 years ago I left my work as an entrepreneur to devote myself to philanthropy full-time. Now, along with my wife, Elaine, and my children Tess and Shane, I travel around the world doing the work of the Sager Family Traveling Foundation and Roadshow.
I met the children in this book during those travels. I photographed them from just weeks after September 11, 2001, until now. They live in alleyways, refugee camps, slums and remote villages from Afghanistan to Rwanda to Nepal. They are refugees, orphans, child soldiers, and just plain kids dealing with war, conflict, natural disaster, abuse and displacement. I was face-to-face with them because I was there to help, and that a big part of the connection you see in their eyes. (**THIS PARAGRAPH IS ALSO IN THE INTRO FROM THE WEBSITE)
These kids face daily challenges that bend my spirit and break my heart. Meeting them has made me more thankful and probably a lot more useful. (**THIS PARAGRAPH IS ALSO IN THE INTRO FROM THE WEBSITE)
Even though I have left the business world and spend much of my time helping people, I’m not a do-gooder. I’m a doer who has figured out that hands-on, eyeball-to-eyeball making a difference is a way to live a very full life. Besides, dealing with revolutionaries, political extremists, and blatant opportunists is nothing compared to some of the corporate lawyers I’ve dealt with.
During my family’s years on the road, spending time with famous people and world leaders has provided many wonderful experiences, but the most transcendent moments have come when we least expected them. They’ve arisen out of the joy and frustration of sharing in ordinary people’s everyday lives. In my photography the same is true.
It turns out with both photographs and philanthropy that getting as close as possible get the best results.
P A G E: (STING INTRO FROM THE BOOK)
We have spent a few days acclimating in and around Katmandu, waiting for helicopter weather, as well as for the arrival of my friend Bobby Sager, an old Nepal hand, flamboyant eccentric, inexhaustible world traveler, and practical philanthropist. It was Bobby who suggested Nepal as a destination, and specifically Lo Manthang…
The manicured lawn in front of the hotel is a welcome oasis inside the turmoil of the city. (My friend) Simon (Astaire), (my son) Jake, and I are sipping a genteel afternoon tea after a tiring day, when the tranquil scene is broken by a loud banging and a maniacal hollering from the back of a pickup truck that has roared through the open gates in a cloud of dust. There on the back is what can be described only as a psychedelic vision, a Martian in wraparound shades and a flowing tie-dyed monk’s robe of orange and yellow, with a blue, sparkling bandana tied pirate-fashion around his head, arms outstretched like some messiah entering a conquered city. Bobby Sager, my old friend, has made his entrance, and even the crows are transfixed by this vision…
“What the fuck is that” says Simon, who has never met Bobby before.
“That is Bobby Sager,” I tell him. “And nothing I could have said about him would have prepared you for the experience, so welcome to Planet Bobby….”
I met this cyclone of a man four years ago in Brazil. He wanted me to help him get into the interior of the rain forest, where the tourists don’t go, so I gave him a few of my contacts and we kept in touch.
Bobby began his working life scalping tickets to Boston Celtics games and ended up buying the hallowed parquet floor of the Boston Garden, before it was torn down. He made a fortune or three before the age of 40, and now he spends his time roaming the planet looking for projects to support that will, in his words, “make a difference.” He’s funding the reconstruction of a monastery in Bhutan, helping the Dalai Lama’s religious scholars learn science, setting up teacher training programs for Afghan refugees, assisting the people of Rwanda in rebuilding their justice system after the appalling massacres that have all but destroyed their country, and running microenterprise programs in South Africa, Nepal and Rwanda…
Our practical philanthropist spent the rest of the day photographing children in the village and teaching Jake some of his secrets. He has a breathtaking series of what he calls “children in conflict” portraits, of children in Afghanistan, in refugee camps in Pakistan and Rwanda, of Tibetan refugee camps in India, and of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
I watch him work. Sitting just outside a group of youngsters, he begins an animated conversation with a mischievous glove puppet, a bright yellow duck. He whispers to it to be quiet and well behaved; the duck nods in obedience and then proceeds to attack Bobby, who only barely manages to control his tiny adversary. The children begin to stare at the strange sight of this big man and his recalcitrant duck, laughing uproariously when the duck gets the better of him. They move closer, and the duck starts to tease the children. Some of them run away giggling; other get closer.
“Never start taking pictures immediately,” he tells Jake. “You’ve got to engage them make them laugh, get close.” Without looking through the lens he actually takes some shots of the children laughing. “The closer you get, the better the pictures, but don’t ever lose eye contact.”
I watch as my son engages with the children, making them laugh, coaxing the shy ones to break out of their shells, until Bobby starts chasing the entire gaggle of children around the town square like an overgrown kid, whooping and roaring as the children scatter hilariously and hide behind their mothers’ long skirts.
A young man attempts to give Bobby a can of some soft of soft drink, saying some thing in Nepalese.
“Pema, what the hell’s the kid saying? Why’s he trying to give me this can?”
Pema talks to the boy, who is about 12. He says you saved his grandmother’s life last year, Mr. Bobby. She needed an operation in Katmandu, and you put her in the helicopter. He says the family wants to thank you, and this is all they have to give you.”
The big brash guy from Boston is suddenly quiet and clearly touched by the gesture. My two abiding memories of this extraordinary and complex man will be o him chasing the village kids like the town fool one minute, and the next reduced almost to tears by this simple gift
P A G E: (REFUGEES)
What can we learn from refugees and immigrants? How do we change the conversation from one that is centered around them as “the other” to one that recognizes their potential as teachers?
Too often we think about poor people as stupid of lazy and refugees and immigrants as encroaching on our resources when in fact more often than not it’s not a zero sum game. When you do the math, it much more likely to be 1+1=3.
P A G E: (REFLECTIVE WOMAN)
*****COMMENT: The photo is very soft – not sure how it is going to look blown up.
P A G E:
Now, let’s start to reflect on what is going on in the world during this time of refugees, immigrants and Donald Trump. We need to be more engaged, more open-minded and more open hearted.
P A G E: (FAR AWAY TENTS)
P A G E: (TENTS BACKYARDS)
P A G E: (BOY WITH HIS TOY)
P A G E:
Too often we look at people as “the other” and fail to make that human connection. Without human connection we can’t learn and fell and become better. Now, let’s go outside our bubble, lets make ourselves vulnerable and allow ourselves to make human connections, because it will make us more human.
P A G E : (ABOUT HAPPY SADS)
These photographs are about stripping away filters, going outside your bubble, making yourself vulnerable and making human connection. The photograph on the left is the first moment of meeting someone where you feel the distance and even suspicion in people’s eyes. The photograph on the right is just a few seconds later where they are filled with opportunity for further connection. The only difference between the two moments is me making a fart sound with my mouth.
The picture on the right isn’t the end of the story, it’s the beginning. Making a funny sound isn’t just to make them smile, it’s a way to create and initiate a relationship and even a friendship.
We live in a hyper-connected, and in many ways, disconnected world. I am hoping that this group of photos shows the ease of which you can make a connection and the game-changing opportunity that real connection can provide.They are about looking someone in the eye, feeling their humanity and letting them feel yours. So many of the issues around refugees come from treating them as “the other”.
COMMENT: Photos would be 1meter wide.
P A G E : (RWANDAN PRISONER – HAPPY/SAD)
P A G E : (ORANGE – HAPPY/SAD)
P A G E: (AFGHAN MAN – HAPPY/SAD)
P A G E: (MONK – HAPPY/SAD)
P A G E: (PAKISTANI MAN – HAPPY/SAD)
P A G E: (AFGHAN BOYS – HAPPY/SAD)
*****COMMENT: The Happy/Sad of the three boys should be dramatically bigger than the rest o the Happy/Sads.
P A G E: (ABOUT POWER OF THE INVISIBLE SUN)
These photographs are from one of my books entitled, “Power of the Invisible Sun”. Invisible Sun is a metaphor for hope. Too often people think about giving someone hope as a soft and cuddly cliché when in fact from my experience hope is incredibly strategic and very often game-changing.
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.
P A G E: (PAKISTANI GIRLS LAUGHING – POIS)
CAPTION: KHYBER PASS, FEDERALLY ADMINISTERED TRIBAL AREA, AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN BORDER
The people who live in the federally administered tribal area of Pakistan are fiercely proud with intense and devout ideas about honor, family and friendship. Women have a particularly difficult time based on tribal mores.
I was struck by the pure joy on these girls’ faces in the middle of a place that’s so difficult for girls growing up. Their exuberant expressions are a stark contrast with the environment they live in.
I believe that you can’t be happy unless you’re thankful and that you can’t be thankful unless you have some context to appreciate what you have. These girls provide context on steroids.
P A G E: (INDIAN GIRL WITH MASCARA – POIS)
CAPTION: THAR DESERT, INDIA – PAKISTAN BORDER
I met this little girl on a long day’s walk through a series of very small villages along the India-Pakistan border.
Sometimes when you meet people, you’re struck by their intensity. As often as not for me, that happens when I meet children. Maybe it’s the make-up around her eyes. Maybe it’s the way she looked at me as if she was looking through me.
P A G E: (TIBETAN REFUGEE GIRLS GIGGLING – POIS)
CAPTION: TIBETAN REFUGEE CAMP #4, NEAR SERA JEY MONASTERY, BYLAKUPPE, SOUTH INDIA
Although India has been an enthusiastic host to the Tibetans in exile since 1959, most of the Tibetans in India don’t live in the mountains of the northern Indian near the Dalai Lama. Most live in the sweltering heat of southern India.
These girls look so out of place living in intense heat surrounded by palm trees. It really brought home how dislocated they are as refugees. They have lots of problems to deal with as refugees, but they seem to be doing it with a positive attitude, no moping around and feeling sorry for themselves. It’s a lesson for the rest of us too. Everyone has to deal with problems. Successful people deal with them better.
P A G E: (AFGHAN BOY LOOKING THROUGH WALL – POIS)
CAPTION: AFGHAN REFUGEE PROCESSING CENTER, PAKISTAN
I took this photograph less than a month after September 11, 2001. I looked at this rock wall, and this distant gaze peered back at me.
Despite being physically close, the remote expression on the Afghan boy’s face made me feel like he was a thousand miles away. He seems underwater: trapped, distant, swallowed up by the aftermath of September 11th.
The victims of the September 11th tragedy were not just the people who died in the World Trade Center and the Pentagon buildings, in the planes, or in the aftermath, but also people like this boy. The post-Sptember 11th world has shrunk in so many ways that “their” problems and “our” problems have become everyone’s problems. Caring about the welfare of people on the other side of the planet is not only good and noble. It’s now in our own self-interest. Be selfish, go help someone.
P A G E: (AFGHAN COVER BOY – POIS)
CAPTION: EID-GAH MOSQUE, KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
I met this boy outside the Eid-Gah Mosque in Kabul. he is a young entrepreneur, a fruit seller. When I took this shot, he was propping up his chin with his elbows on the cart.
This is a picture of somebody who has said, “I’m not going to give up. I’m going to think of a way to make money and move forward.” I took this photograph because even though he’s selling fruit in a place that’s surrounded by tremendous destruction with people walking around missing limbs, you can see the smile in his eyes. You can fake a smile with your mouth, but there’s no faking that smile in his eyes.
Giving someone how can sound like a cliche, but my experience is that hope isn’t just nice, it’s a game changer.
P A G E: (RWANDAN CRYING GIRL- POIS)
CAPTION: NYAMATA, RWANDA
P A G E: (SRI LANKAN BOY – POIS)
CAPTION: MUSLIM SCHOOL, WELIGAMA, SRI LANKA
When I photographed this boy in 2001, Sri Lanka had beeb in a continuous state of civil war for 18 years. Weligama is one of the villages hardest hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami three years later that killed more than 35,000 people in Sri Lanka.
I’ve always wondered if this little boy survived the tsunami.Hi school where I took this photograph was less than 100 meters from the sea.
P A G E: (PALESTINIAN GIRL – POIS)
CAPTION: QALANDIA, WEST BANK, PALESTINE
This little Palestinian girl has been living in the midst of occupation from the moment she was born. I love her painted nails. She’s just trying to be a little girl, have some fun and feel alive despite such a difficult daily life.
P A G E: (AFGHAN GIRLS LAUGHING – POIS)
CAPTION: AFGHAN REFUGEE CAMP
These girls are from a village in Afghanistan that had been bombed just a few weeks before I took this photograph.
Even though their lives had been completely turned upside down, driven from their homes and facing the incredible challenges of war, I was struck by their ability to smile. I’m continuously amazed by children’s ability to cope with impossibly difficult situations.
These kids face daily challenges that bend my spirit and break my heart. Meeting them has made me more thankful and probably a lot more useful.
P A G E: (NEPALESE BOY PEERING AROUND THE CORNER – POIS)
CAPTION: BHAKTAPUR, NEPAL
The boy in this photograph seems to be looking off in to the future, but at the same time, something about his expression feels confused and vulnerable.
What struck me about his sad, abject, distant look is how unfair it is to start off life so behind the curve.
There’s so much inequality around the world. When it’s kids who are facing the inequality, it seems particularly unfair. It makes me angry when I see kids trying to cope with such an unlevel playing field.
P A G E : (DON’T FEEL SORRY FOR THESE KIDS)
Don’t feel sorry for these kids, they don’t want your pity. Hopefully you take strength from their strength, feel more thankful in your own lives, and in return for that strength and that thankfulness go find ways to give other people hope not just by giving money, but by giving something of yourself.
P A G E : (AFGHAN GIRL WITH BURNS)
CAPTION: NORTHERN KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
What did you and I get pissed off about today? It probably doesn’t compare to her daily challenges.
It’s hard to be happy unless you’re thankful, and it’s difficult to be thankful without some context to appreciate what you have.
P A G E: (MOISES)
CAPTION: CHILD SOLIDER REHABILITATION CAMP, RUHENGERI, RWANDA
I took this photograph in a rehabilitation camp we support in northern Rwanda.
This is Moise. He’s a child soldier from the Congo who killed three people when he was seven years old. This soccer ball was Moise’s prize possession.
P A G E: (MOISES’ BALL)
The memory of this boy and his ball stayed with my family and me for years to follow. Meeting Moise was my inspiration in joining forces with Sting and two inventors in developing something quite revolutionary: an indestructible soccer ball.
While a soccer ball may seem a small thing to most, our indestructible “Hope” soccer balls can mean so much more to a kid in really messed up places. Through my foundation’s Hope is a Game-Changer initiative, we give Hope soccer balls to kids who need them through organizations that teach critical life skills using soccer as a platform. In a world where everything in their lives crumbles to the touch, these balls are something that won’t let them down.
*****COMMENT: Not sure if we should include the soccer ball story. I don’t want it to distract from the rest of the exhibit.
P A G E : CONCRETE BABY STEPS
It used to be that we could outsource fixing the world to governments and large organizations. Today it’s clear that individuals must actively engage in making a difference. It’s no longer just helpful and nice, it’s critical. If your response is, “yeah but the world’s problems are just too big and there’s nothing I can do,” then I would encourage you to think about the power of “concrete baby steps.”
A concrete baby step is not a token effort; it’s a tangible, usually hands-on response to a problem. Concrete baby steps are relatively easy to see individually, but it’s hard to fathom their cumulative power. When we each take a concrete baby step, and we add up mine and yours and everyone else’s, they can become the building blocks of transformational change. In fact, collectively, concrete baby steps may be the best solution we have to address the world’s biggest problems.
I one heard a fascinating speaker as, “How many seeds are in an apple?” As the audience fumbled through some answers, he observed: “While you can find out how many seed are in an apple quite easily by simply cutting it open and counting them, you can never know how many apples, or even trees, could one day sprout from just one of those seeds.”
A new idea us a seed. Looking someone you are trying to help in the eye is a seed. Letting people know that they have value as a human being is a seed. Taking a concrete baby step is a seed. If you think that the world’s problems are too big and there’s noting you can do to make a difference, start by planting a seed. Who knows how many orchards it may one day yield.
Giving someone hope is the ultimate seed. A little bit of hope changes everything: all the odds, all the upside. Lots more people win. Just do the math.
P A G E: (ABOUT THE PORTRAITS) – NEED TO EDIT!
I hope that by experiencing this exhibit you have more 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.
P A G E: (ABOUT THE LAYOUT PORTRAITS)
*****COMMENT: These 8 images are going to be transparencies on 8 light boxes circling around the viewers in the middle like the image below:
*****COMMENT: I may want to have people enter this room in groups of 10 in order to feel the same sense of community that they did in the beginning of the exhibit with the Power of the Invisible Sun music video.
*****COMMENT: I may want to have the Invisible Sun song playing when you enter the room. Not sure if the song or silence would be more effective.
*****COMMENT: I want everyone to spend at least a minute staring into the eyes of these portraits. They should have an inner dialogue with the portrait, making a commitment to do something to help others. They should feel like the portraits are holding them accountable for whatever commitment they are making.
P A G E: (AFGHAN MAN WITH THE SAGGY EYES – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (RWANDAN FEMALE MURDERER – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (DREADLOCKS SADHU – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (AFGHAN NAT GEO GIRL – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (CAPE TOWN WOMAN WITH PAINT – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (SADHU WITH RED PAINT – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (CAIRO WOMAN – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (SADHU WITH WHITE PAINT – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: (WOMAN WITH HAND ON HER MOUTH – PORTRAITS)
P A G E: HANDS ON HELPING
People often tell me how impressed they are that, after my business success I am not so committed to giving back to society. Invariably someone tells me what a wonderful, selfless person I am.
The truth is, I sleep in tents, shit in holes, and expose myself to all kinds of risks and frustrations because I’m selfish.
By being on the ground, face-to-face with the people we are trying to help, my family and I get to live amazing life moments, learning, feeling, and accomplishing. That’s what I mean by being selfish.
The idea that people give to charity because they are supposed to isn’t sustainable, and people who need help deserve real long-term commitment. Finding ways to serve your self interest fuels that commitment.
Far from the tradition of writing a check and going to the annual dinner, being hands-on, looking people in their eyes, feeling their humanity and letting them feel yours isn’t just helping, it’s a way to live life to the fullest. And that’s the best return on investment I’ve ever gotten by a long shot.
I’m selfish, and I’m not ashamed to say it, because the most selfish I am, the more impact I make on people who need my help.
Whether it is on the other side of the world or just around the corner, so much learning, living, and feeling flows out of the intense human connection that comes from being able to touch the people you are trying to help. As a result of serving my self interest, I end up giving much more. Talk about win-win.