Category Archives: Humanitarian Photography

Unexploded Ordnance Survivor Video

Last year I created a video for World Education (WE) in Laos. It’s a short documentary fundraiser for the War Victims Medical Fund (WVMF). When I was approached with the idea by one of the team members from WE’s Victims’ Assistance Support Team (VAST), I knew I had to do it—although, it wasn’t an easy video to make. I feel very strongly about the people still being affected by United States’ Vietnam-era munitions, and at times was overcome by the pointlessness of the violence happening to them.





If you cannot see the video above, click here.

My only disappointment about the project was that I didn’t get to travel to Teuy’s remote village when VAST did a checkup trip. When the team gathered in Teuy’s home, as is usual, many of the neighbors came by to see what was going on. When they saw him opening bottles of water and bags of chips, they were amazed. When they commented on it, Teuy said “And I can do a lot more!”

That would have made an amazing end to the video, but knowing it happened was enough.

Also posted in Videos Tagged , , |

Haam Jap! (Don’t Touch)

This was a great project I worked on in Laos last year. The kids learned filmmaking skills, had a good time, and got to go to the capital (most had never been there). The twelve hour bus ride was a bit of an ordeal, but it was worth it.

Here is the info about the project:

Conceived, written and produced by the students of Lone Buffalo, the short film ‘Haam Jap’ is a Public Awareness Video designed to alert children in Laos (and worldwide) of the continued danger of Unexploded Ordnance.

The film was shown at the 2015 Vientianale International Film Festival.

The students wrote three scenarios in which bombies can maim or kill. They used props available in the classroom and local market to produce special effects, and shot the film on location in and around Phonsavan.

On Vimeo:





If you can’t see the video above, click here.

Film Director Teng Vue Fai Dang (18) said he wanted to create a film that would remind both children and adults that bombies are sadly both metaphorically and physically “in our roots” and will pose a danger for many years to come, especially in Xieng Khouang, the world’s most heavily bombed province.

The only shots not taken by the students were of the defused munitions, since it was deemed inappropriate for them to be near or handle actual UXO, even though it was all FFE (Free From Explosives).

On YouTube:





If you can’t see the video above, click here.

The film was Executively Directed by Jon Witsell and James Thomas. This film was produced for and funded by the US State Department.

Lone Buffalo is an free English Language project in Phonsavan, North East Laos. The students who produced this film live in Xieng Khouang Province.

Also posted in Travel, Videos Tagged , , , |

Unexploded Ordnance: Don’t Touch!

This is a poster that is at the Phonsavan, Laos, office of UXO-Lao, the national demining organization. As you might expect, more boys than girls are maimed/killed by the Vietnam-era unexploded ordnance left over from the Secret War, in which the United States played a major role (those are all munitions manufactured/deployed by the United States pictured in the poster).

Photo Unexploded Ordnance Haam Jap!

The red text in the upper left states Haam Jap! (roughly translated: Don’t Touch!). I’ll have a follow up post about a very cool film project done with the Lone Buffalo school’s students soon. Stay tuned!

Also posted in Travel Tagged , , |

Through The Infirmary #2

In Laos, as in most of Asia, one takes off their shoes before entering a building. This is a great practice, keeping the inside of buildings much cleaner. However, it can lead to a bit of chaos right at the doorway… click to enlarge.

Infirmary

Also posted in Color Photography, Travel Tagged , , |

Beauty In Simple Things, #2

I love the way the back rim of this bowl starts to blend into the background. I’m not sure what this particular bowl is used for, but I’ve seen them all through the hospital. One, holding bloody surgical instruments after a surgery; another holding water used to wipe the face of a woman in labor; and another, in a remote health center, again holding surgical instruments—instruments doused with alcohol and set afire to sterilize them. Such a simple item, so many uses, polished by so many hands.

This is the second post in my series Beauty In Simple Things. Take a look at the first post in the series here.

Photo Beauty In Simple Things

Also posted in Beauty In Simple Things, Color Photography, Travel Tagged , |

Through The Infirmary #17

Since the hospital had long since run out of high intensity lamps for the operating theater, this is what was used when operating on a patient… apparently it is quite dark inside a human! From the upcoming Through The Infirmary project.

 

Infirmary #17

Also posted in Color Photography Tagged , , |

Through The Infirmary

This is from a new project tentatively titled Through The Infirmary about my experiences while working with an non-governmental organization in a Laotian hospital. And yes… it is a color photography project. My first…

Photo of Through The Infirmary

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Also posted in Artwork In Progress, Color Photography, Travel Tagged , , |

Lao Woman

I took this photo of the feet of a Lao woman after she had taken a long journey. This when I was shooting with Médecins Sans Frontières in the Xamti District Hospital in the far Northeast of Laos. She was the wife of the village chief—and had walked three hours to get to the hospital.

Photo Of Lao Woman

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Travel Tagged , , |

Bombs And Buddha

This is Wat (temple) Piawat in Muang Khoun, on the Plain of Jars, south of Phonsavan. It was bombed during the Secret War. The temple was almost entirely destroyed, but the Buddha statue remained mostly unharmed. Bombs and Buddha was photographed when I had finished working on a photo project with Médecins Sans Frontières, and we were headed on the ten hour drive back to Vientiane.


Photo Bombs And Buddha

Also posted in Black and White Photography, Travel Tagged |

Swords Into Plowshares?

How about artillery shells in anvils instead? The only problem with the swords into plowshares analogy is that swords don’t kill or maim you when you hit them with a hammer.

Swords Into Plowshares #1

This is the seventh US 105mm howitzer shell I’ve found in Laos used in this manner. They are used by the village blacksmiths as anvils to make farming implements and other tools. Probably the most utilitarian usage of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) that I’ve found.

Swords Into Plowshares #2Special thanks to Philip for photographing me—it’s his father’s anvil…

 

Also posted in Travel Tagged , |