New Delhi, India
En route to Nepal to visit an orphanage where we would begin the first phase of our foundation work, our family took an afternoon to explore the heart of Old Delhi. Along the chronically congested main street of the famed Chandni Chowk, amid the noise, smells and colours of the unnamed produce stalls emerged a ray of light and hope. A woman appeared out of the depths, eyes gleaming, as if to say “let your light shine.” Focused on Delhi in that instant, halfway around the globe on our first day of our inaugural visit to Asia, we felt the world as one. For us, travelling with a purpose had begun.
Santa Martha Animal Rescue, Tambillo, Ecuador
For three weeks, I worked in an animal rescue as a veterinary assistant helping to rehabilitate a number of wild, rescued animals. The previous owner of this 100-year-old Galápagos turtle tried to install a cup holder in the shell of animal (which is also his spine), permanently disfiguring him. He was the last animal I said goodbye to. The moment we shared was one I will never forget.
Children at the Kapin school near Fond-des-Blancs, Haiti are caught playing during a recess two months after the devastating earthquake. The kids are happy to greet visitors with big inviting smiles. Less than 50 percent of children in the country are enrolled in primary schools. While volunteering at a small hospital being operated by the St. Boniface Haiti Foundation, I was able to visit this school and speak with the children. When I asked the kids what they needed most, their response was “food.”
Lipton’s Seat, Hill Country, Sri Lanka
I like tea – I’m married to an Englishwoman, so it’s sort of mandatory – but whenever I used to enjoy a cup, I never thought about where those tea leaves came from. This was corrected by visiting the tea plantations in Sri Lanka, including the famous Lipton’s Seat, where we got to see that the process of picking tea leaves has not changed in centuries, and the same families have been doing this hard work for generations. The woman in this photograph is likely to have spent her whole life on these fields; her face will look at me from every cup of Earl Grey for the rest of my life.
St. Catherines, Ontario
Dulal was born a hermaphrodite in Narayanganj, Bangladesh. Rejected and beaten by his father, he ran away at 13 years old. With no money and nowhere to go he ended up in the urban jungle of Dhaka. Dulal eventually found acceptance within a hijra community and was given the name Salma. Transvestites, transsexuals and transgenders are all known as hijras in Southeast Asia. Spending time with Salma, now 16, while making a documentary has allowed me to reevaluate our western perceptions about gender, sexuality, love, family and acceptance.
Joy – Not one of the primary emotions that come to mind when your 4x4 breaks down alongside a deserted road while en route to a long-awaited African safari. While stranded in the midst of an impoverished slum, I could have felt anger, fear, impatience and maybe even hysteria and bitterness. But for whatever reason, I didn’t feel any of these – only joy. To me, this mechanical malfunction only meant opportunity. I had the rare privilege of meeting youth, mothers with babe, fathers, elders, and the ailed –they all came out to welcome me, an arbitrary umuzungo (white person) passing through on a chanced meeting.
Jessica M. MacLean
Inverness County, Nova Scotia
Valleyview Academy, Mathare Estate, Nairobi, Kenya
While volunteering in Kenya with a charity that provides secondary school scholarships to children from the Mathare slum in Nairobi, I was able to visit some of the primary schools from which scholars are selected. For these students, going to school isn’t a chore; it’s an opportunity for literacy, a future and a safe haven from the dangers of life in the shantytown. Often, it also provides the only meals the students may see in a day. The presence of a mzungu (white person) with a camera is almost always a cause for grins and a forest of raised hands: “V” for victory!
Chikandwe, Lilongwe, Malawi
We’ve all seen it: the photo of a teary-eyed African child dressed in rags and smothered in flies. When I returned from Africa in 2008, I compared these photos to my own memories of Malawian friends and felt lied to. When I returned to Malawi, I began a project to take two photos of the same person: one with the typical symbols of poverty and a second photo of the same person looking their very finest, as Bauleni Banda does here. I lived in Chikandwe Village with Bauleni and his family for three months, and he forever changed the way I think about those we call “poor.”
Duncan Ryan McNicholl
Vancouver, British Columbia
MCF Ndalani Medical Clinic , Ndalani, Kenya
One former street child, Charles Mulli, is determined to help fellow Kenyans who have suffered from poverty, political turmoil and
HIV/AIDS. Twenty-one years ago, Charles and his wife, Esther, invited three disadvantaged children into their home. Today, Mully Children’s Family (MCF) has provided shelter, food, education, skills training and health care to 6,000 children with the goal to reintegrate productive young people into society. This personal commitment by the Mullis inspired my husband and me to volunteer at MCF Ndalani Medical Clinic teaching life skills to former street girls.
Lola Reid Allin
This photograph was taken while on an expedition to Antarctica in 2009. By chance, this seal came up out of the icy waters directly in front of my husband and me, and we began to capture several close-ups. Soon after, several other travellers from our boat joined us. After I returned to Canada and had a chance to go through the photos, I noticed the sad reality of our experience. If you look closely at the reflection in the seal’s eye, you may also agree that the beautiful sight we were witnessing was very different than that of the animal, whose view was of a “gaggle” of tourists converging upon it.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Chichester Cathedral, Chichester, England
While studying history in England, I discovered an easy way to create amazing photo compositions. On their own, photos of churches and historical places are quite mundane, but juxtaposed against the locals, greater photos are created. The locals complement the sights and the sights enrich the locals, as in this photo of a man at Chichester Cathedral. It makes me think about how I may complement the sights in my local city. When a tourist visits my hometown, am I part of the city’s sights?
Delta, British Colombia
I was in the Bhagalpur district of India when I took this photo of a group who travels across the river to the city every day to sell their crops. This photo is a source of strength and inspiration to me as it reflects the spirit of unity and brotherhood.
Gautam Kumar Pandey
The tanning industry in Bangladesh represents $284 million in yearly revenues. Of the approximately 200 leather tanneries in the Hazaribagh district of Dhaka, most release untreated toxic chemical waste near residential areas that form coloured ponds and lakes of toxic waste in areas where more than 20,000 people work and live. All the toxic waste water eventually makes its way into the Buriganga River – Dhaka’s lifeline that thousands of people depend on. The river has suffered an extreme loss of biodiversity and has now turned black as a result.
For many, education can mean an escape from the grasping hands of poverty or the world of child trafficking. This is what brought me to this school house on the outskirts of an impoverished village in rural Singida, Tanzania. I was working alongside the Tanzanian organization, Kivulini, to teach village members the importance of educating their children instead of sending them off to work as child domestic workers in other areas of the country. For me, the boy in this empty, rundown classroom without basic supplies represents the hope that education offers these youth.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
When I left my home, my career, my apartment and most of my possessions – life was a blank slate. On my first real adventure abroad in Mexico, I covered thousands of miles and visited scores of town and villages. When I reached San Miguel de Allende during Holy Week, I was captivated by the whole-hearted participation of the community and began photographing the people. I had seen the country’s natural beauty, its architecture and its historic sites, but it was not until I studied the faces that I saw Mexico’s soul: beautiful, proud, warm and strong enough to weather many storms.
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Grassi Lakes, Alberta, Canada
The stresses of everyday life become lost when you’re hanging onto a mountain side 50 feet high.
Ekou-in Temple, Koyasan, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan
While in Osaka studying Japanese, I met a young monk at Koyasan, a mountain centre of Japanese Shingon Buddhism, who had been an exchange student in England. Speaking both languages with him and learning about Shingon from someone who had participated in an experience similar to mine was one of my deepest cultural exchanges. It emphasized the value of international exchange for me. Here, the goma (fire ceremony) is performed each morning at Ekou-in Temple, where visitors can stay. A certain number of wood pieces are used to create a fire, symbolizing the absolution of spiritual defilements.
Michael John Alan Zdan