Photojournalist Chuck Bigger has thirty years of experience working cross-culturally in more than thirty countries around the world documenting global humanitarian issues for international development organizations, NGOs, and editorial publications in a dozen languages exploring the human condition and the environment with compassion, empathy, and dignity. For 15 of those years, Bigger has traveled the globe with Compassion International, bringing to life the stories of thousands of children living in desperate poverty. Bigger often has the opportunity to interview individual children, and to take a few moments to learn about their lives and families, their struggles and triumphs.
"I feel like I get really close to the heart of Compassion's ministry by being able to meet those families and spend time with them in a very personal way," says Bigger. "It's ' very humbling experience."
Early on, Bigger learned the importance of going "off-script" with his interviews. He sought out questions that would make children stop and think, that would break through the awkwardness of cameras and strangers asking prying questions.
"Having been a former kid myself," says Bigger, "I just try to play with them. I talk with them about things within their culture or their country, and try to figure out things that might be interesting to them. I want them to be comfortable with me before we really get to the heart of things, and have to ask some difficult questions."
One question that Bigger has consistently asked over the years is "If God were sitting in this room with us right now, what one thing would you ask Him?" The answers are sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, and always insightful.
"At times I have laughed out loud at the responses and there have also been occasions that left me weeping and feeling that my heart had just been cut out with a spoon," says Bigger. "I remember one little girl, in particular though. She lived in Brazil with her 83-year-old grandmother. She told me that she would ask God why he made so many poor people and why he makes them suffer so. That one left me stunned and speechless, literally weeping. I didn't have an answer for her."
Throughout these interviews, Bigger says he has learned that children are children—regardless of culture, geography or resources.
"Asking children what they would ask God has shown me, over and over, the universal nature of children," says Bigger. "In their answers, I see the heart of a child."