Real lives……Cipriana

The sun was beating down and we were walking up a steep rugged dirt track laden with camera equipment to meet a woman called Cipriana.  After a short while and feeling slightly exhausted I asked the typical question “are we nearly there yet?”.  I was with a small group of local NGO workers from Outreach International who wanted to show me a typical household which was in the early stages of their project in this particular area. We were in a mountainous part of Nicaragua near a small rural village called Los Alvarez, we had to leave the Land Cruiser behind as it couldn’t make it up the steep track.

After a couple of hundred meters up the trail and about fifteen minutes later, we arrived at a small house located in a clearing of trees at the side of the track.

A 78 year old woman by the name of Cipriana greeted us with a beaming smile and welcomed us to her humble home.  She’s 78 but certainly not frail, I found out that she walked up and down that steep dirt track twice a day to the local town of Santa Lucia which is 2km away and did it in 20 minutes!

After a short while I soon came to realise that this was one amazing woman. I found out she was a herbalist, a volunteer nurse, an indigenous midwife and to top it off….a philosopher.

Her life was far from easy, in fact many of the simple things of life that we take for granted was a considerable chore for Cipriana. She showed me the well which was located close by to her house, a well which she had to build herself to enable her to have water and which also served several other neighbours.

Down in the village of Los Alvarez a water distribution system had been installed where most of the community now had a fresh water tap within their home. Cipriana is now part of a group working with Outreach International to install a similar system into their own households. She is a strong believer in people working together to overcome their difficulties and told me of a local bird who when starts to sing, the others all join in together to make a beautiful sound.  Cipriana went on to say that when people come together to help each other to sort out their problems and difficulties then they can do something beautiful and affective – a great philosophy!

I won’t forget Cipriana and hopefully, I’ll be able to return to visit her some time in the future and see her receiving water from a tap rather than the old well she currently uses.

All images by Wayne Rowe/Visioning Images

Faces of Haiti

This ‘Faces of‘ post features some images from my recent Haiti assignment.  I was asked by Outreach International to accompany an assessment team of specialists from the organisation to acquire images which reflected the situation on the ground as we found it.  As usual, I spent quite a lot of time talking to people about their circumstances and how they are dealing with the recent disaster.  To be honest it was hard to hear their stories and to witness the chaos surrounding them right now.  Haiti isn’t on the media radar any more, the reporters have  moved on to other stories but the problem hasn’t gone away for hundreds of thousands of Haitians who are trying to rebuild their lives.

Something I find incredible about all the places I’ve visited so far is that you will often find smiles on faces even amidst such poverty. A couple of the shots I’ve posted below convey some of the sadness which individuals are experiencing but the majority show the hope which still abounds even in such dire situations.  Many of the people I met in Haiti had a courage and resolve I could only dream of and I can only hope that my images will motivate others to respond with a similar resolve to address their needs.

All images by Wayne Rowe/Visioning Images

Real Lives

I wanted to give you a heads-up on a series of posts I’m planning on releasing in the near future – Real Lives. When travelling around photographing people on behalf of aid organisations and NGO’s I have the privilege of meeting some extraordinary people and I love to sit and hear their stories, finding out about their lives and their culture. My work tends to take me to impoverished communities where families are struggling with difficult circumstances, many of which appear to be out of their control. These are very real situations and they have very real lives, they’ve become real to me because for a short period of time they have let me into their world and I have let them into mine.  I want the Real Lives posts to focus on the people, not on my photographic work.  In fact, many of the images I use within these posts probably won’t be my best or most creative work and could quite simply be snap-shots taken whilst walking to a location. To me, that doesn’t matter, the articles are about the person or family, not about Wayne Rowe; my shots are there to help give you a feel of who they are and the environment they are living in.

The articles will probably mention the aid organisation involved in that particular situation and although this isn’t meant to be a campaign for them I can’t help but give them credit for what they are doing to help improve these people’s lives. I’m often asked how I cope with being in contact with so much poverty and I always tell them it’s because I see hope. That hope comes from the work the aid organisations are providing through working in those communities and is often evident within the faces of those I meet.

My first Real Lives post should be released next week so you may want to use the subscribe by email function at the bottom of the page to be notified of any posts.