People often ask me, “Doesn't it make you sad to write confronting stories and take heartbreaking pictures?” In the beginning, I asked myself the same thing. Now, after countless long trips to the depths of the jungle, to the top of immense mountains and to the warmth of the balmy coast, I find nothing more beautiful than experiencing the deep, immense warmth of children's hearts.
The photojournalist's journey begins as the bags are packed. As I fold my clothes, get my camera ready and make sure I haven’t missed anything, my mind is already wondering about the places I will discover and the people I’m about to meet. The possibilities are endless. Expectation fills my heart.
People also ask me, “How do you not feel guilt or pain when you have to photograph the hard challenges of a family in need?” The truth is you always feel guilt or pain. Those feelings are present every time I take a plane, get on a bus or board a canoe. I am often afraid of the reality that I will soon face. But all that changes when I see the smile of a child.
After a long and tiring journey, everything lights up as the children run toward me, smiling and jumping. My fear disappears, doubts and sadness evaporate, and my heart feels peace and joy, knowing the incredible stories of so many children who smile and have hope. When you meet these children and their families, you finally realize the purpose of the trip: to capture hope at its purest.
For several years now, I have had the privilege of being a Compassion photojournalist and learning from the families I meet on these trips. I can humbly say that children are the best teachers in life. Today, I want you to meet five children who changed my perspective on life.
James Taught Me Resilience
When I met 6-year-old James in 2021, I was struck by his peace. He and his family had lost their house in a landslide that covered the area with mud and debris. As I interviewed the family, I learned about the terrifying event and how Compassion and the church had helped the family with food, mattresses and supplies to rebuild their home. James and his brothers receive consistent emotional and spiritual support from the church.