Sri Lanka – A Trip of Two Halves

I was looking forward to this particular assignment in Sri Lanka for Outreach International, firstly because my wife Linda was accompanying me on this trip and secondly we were going to tag a week’s holiday onto the end, hence the title of this blog post ‘A Trip of Two Halves’. It was so good to have Linda with me, partly as it meant she could see some of the amazing things I am privileged to experience with my work but also because she could help me record some of the information gathered from the field. The first week was spent around Puttalam on the western coast of the country, visiting three different communities where Outreach International have been working. To be honest, I didn’t know too much about their work in this particular place before I went but I was amazed at how much had been achieved in such a short period of time.  As always, the highlights of the week were meeting some of the individuals who have participated in and benefited from their work of pulling themselves out of poverty.

Here are a few photos from that first week, more will follow soon.

After our time in the communities around Puttalam we travelled south to a small coastal town of Hikkaduwa near Galle for a relaxing few days. In many ways it was difficult to reconcile the two aspects of the trip, the first being spent amongst the poor, listening to their stories and seeing the conditions of their difficult lives whereas the second week we were at a comparatively luxurious location, living a life that those people we met only a few days before could only dream of. It was however, an opportunity to see more of this gorgeous country and meet some other Sri Lankans.We decided to travel south just as the locals would…by train. It was certainly an experience but it was well worth the extra time it took. The train journey itself took over 3 hours and cost us a whopping £1 each!! Okay, the train was basic and we definitely wanted to stay clear of the so-called toilets but it cruised just a few metres away from the coastline enabling us to take in some fantastic views. If anyone is planning on going to Sri Lanka I would seriously recommend using the trains. There’s not much else to say about the second week as we spent the vast majority of the time relaxing beside a pool except for the day we headed out in a tuk-tuk to Galle and some surrounding sites. We certainly relaxed and enjoyed some wonderful Sri Lankan hospitality, hopefully it won’t be too long before we can return to Sri Lanka.

I purposefully didn’t take too many photos that second week but I couldn’t resist firing a few shots on the train and also the stilt fisherman and Japanese Buddhist Temple around Galle.

Humanitarian photography by Wayne Rowe / Visioning Images

 

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A Tribute to Humanitarian Workers

I’ve often said that although I take photographs for humanitarian organisations, that in itself doesn’t make me a humanitarian. For me, the true humanitarians are those individuals who work tirelessly to improve the lives of people who struggle everyday; many never receive the recognition for the work they do. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some incredible individuals as I’ve travelled for my work, many of them I now call friends. The movie and gaming industries churn out lots of fictional characters who are deemed to be super-heroes but through my assignments I have seen real life heroes who are having an amazing impact on the lives of families and communities where they work. The purpose of this post is simply to offer my gratitude and respect to the people and organisations who work to change lives for the better, without them this world would be a whole lot worse than it is.  However, these people are often only able to do what they do because of donations made by you and me so I’d urge you to continue your support to whatever organisation you choose. I’ve chosen a handful of photos taken over this last year of some of the humanitarian workers I’ve had the privilege of working beside, to these people, and to the thousands of others I offer my heart-felt thanks.

Christmas is but a few days away and I have to admit that it’s one of my favourite times of year, a time of being with family and friends and a time of giving. It won’t be long before I head out to Haiti again and I’m already starting to get my head in gear for that trip, but as I do I find myself thinking about those people in Haiti and many other countries around the world who don’t have the means to have such lavish celebrations as I’m able to enjoy. Having said that, I remember my time in the Philippines at the end of 2009 where many of the community members had their simple Christmas decorations proudly on display and were looking forward to the festivities. I remember listening to the brass band of General Tinio playing carols which seemed quite surreal to me as it was incredibly hot and I’ve only ever experienced Christmas here in the UK where it’s cold. What I came to realise after that trip was that Christmas can still be enjoyed and celebrated even though a person may live in poverty. I hope that all who choose to celebrate this festival over the coming days will have their spirit lifted.

 

Photography by Wayne Rowe / Visioning Images

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Africa Assignment – Humanitarian Photography

I’ve just spent the last few months at home here in the UK concentrating on wedding photography and I’ve had a great time being a part of several couple’s big day.  It’s definitely different to my humanitarian work and it has its own challenges but it’s been an incredible few months and its also meant that I’ve been able to spend some real quality time with my family.

But that’s over for this year and I’m heading off in a couple of weeks to Malawi and Zambia, to be honest even though I’ve loved doing the wedding work I’m itching to get out there and do some work for Outreach International.  So, the trip consists of a week in Malawi followed by a few days in Zambia before heading back home.

Mini-Announcement

I also have a mini announcement to make which I’m really excited about. Within the last few weeks I’ve been given a contract by Outreach International to serve them on a part-time basis over the next year as photographer and media consultant. They’re an amazing organisation that has a unique way of tackling issues of poverty in the countries they work and it’s a  privilege  for me to be a part of that work. If you check out their website you’ll see some of my images being used and read about the lives that are being changed and their fantastic achievements within many communities.

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