Portraits of Sierra Leone
Back in 2007 I accompanied OneVillage Partners to Eastern Sierra Leone to help document their work a small clump of rural villages. OVP’s model provides broad support to a very specific geographic area in one of the poorest countries in the world, aiding with housing, water, education, sanitation, medicine, micro loans and more to a clump of three small villages not far from Sierra Leone’s border with Liberia. It’s an area that was decimated during the decade-long civil war back in the 1990s, when villagers were forced to flee across the border to refugee camps, while the rain forests grew over those parts of their homes not pillaged and destroyed by rebels.
The people I met on that trip have been on my mind the past couple months, as Africa’s ebola epidemic has picked up steam. The villages I visited sit at the epicenter of the epidemic, and two of the three villages where OVP does its work have been quarantined. As a community of farmers doing their best to subsist and bring some goods to the limited markets available, I can only imagine the multi-leveled hardships presented by the disease: not only is there the health-related stress of not wanting to contract ebola, now their ability to feed their families is in jeopardy during the most difficult part of the year.
The act of making a portrait can be a very intimate experience. A successful portrait brings the viewer into a sphere of intimacy and creates a connection, a moment that can be used for learning. Those moments also stay with me as the photographer. Actually, they’re one of the reasons that I am a photographer.
Seven years after taking these photos, I remember and pray for the well being of these people who were somehow made more real for me through the act of taking their photo.
You can help. Small donations go a long way in Africa. Need a channel? OneVillage Partners is a small nonprofit made up of very smart people that you can trust, who help the very people you see on this page. Consider a gift today. And if not a gift, maybe just a moment of silence honoring their struggle, our shared human struggles.