I’ve always felt strongly about using my photography for social justice and change. In 2006, I went to Uganda for a photo workshop to learn how to work hand-in-hand with non-governmental organizations. Little did I know how dramatically that trip would change my life.

Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world and has the unfortunate distinction of being considered the birthplace of AIDS. Of the 24 million people who live there, more than half are under the age of 15. 2.5 million of these children are orphans. The death rate for children under the age of five is 13% due to malnutrition, disease and extreme poverty. 50% of the entire population in Uganda has inadequate access to clean water. Poor sanitation is widespread, and there is limited access to health care. Despite all of this, there is a sense of joy and hope in Uganda.

I’ve traveled to eastern Africa ten times now. The photographs I’ve made are primarily about children, specifically those who live at St. Mary Kevin Children’s Home. I also photograph the people who live and work in the surrounding villages. No matter where I go, most everyone has painful stories to tell. Children from the northern part of Uganda were scarred by a 20-year-long civil war. Some watched as their parents were murdered and their villages burned. Many had no choice but to become child soldiers. Some managed to escape to the bush and then ended up living on the street. Hundreds of thousands of Ugandan children have been touched in some way by HIV/AIDS. One or both of their parents has succumbed to it, and many of the children have tested positive themselves. These children are all affected by poverty, hunger, disease, loneliness, uncertainty about their education and uncertainty about their future. They don’t have much to call their own. But each time I visit, I am surprised by the number of intangible gifts I am given. I learn lessons over and over again about the meaning of joy and the meaning of sorrow; the meaning of friendship and the meaning of family; the meaning of despair and the meaning of hope. I make these pictures so that others can learn about the dire situation in which the children live, but also to show the dignity, beauty, warmth and joy of the Ugandan people. 

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Uganda

I’ve always felt strongly about using my photography for social justice and change. In 2006, I went to Uganda for a photo workshop to learn how to work hand-in-hand with non-governmental organizations. Little did I know how dramatically that trip would change my life.

Uganda is one of the poorest countries in the world and has the unfortunate distinction of being considered the birthplace of AIDS. Of the 24 million people who live there, more than half are under the age of 15. 2.5 million of these children are orphans. The death rate for children under the age of five is 13% due to malnutrition, disease and extreme poverty. 50% of the entire population in Uganda has inadequate access to clean water. Poor sanitation is widespread, and there is limited access to health care. Despite all of this, there is a sense of joy and hope in Uganda.

I’ve traveled to eastern Africa ten times now. The photographs I’ve made are primarily about children, specifically those who live at St. Mary Kevin Children’s Home. I also photograph the people who live and work in the surrounding villages. No matter where I go, most everyone has painful stories to tell. Children from the northern part of Uganda were scarred by a 20-year-long civil war. Some watched as their parents were murdered and their villages burned. Many had no choice but to become child soldiers. Some managed to escape to the bush and then ended up living on the street. Hundreds of thousands of Ugandan children have been touched in some way by HIV/AIDS. One or both of their parents has succumbed to it, and many of the children have tested positive themselves. These children are all affected by poverty, hunger, disease, loneliness, uncertainty about their education and uncertainty about their future. They don’t have much to call their own. But each time I visit, I am surprised by the number of intangible gifts I am given. I learn lessons over and over again about the meaning of joy and the meaning of sorrow; the meaning of friendship and the meaning of family; the meaning of despair and the meaning of hope. I make these pictures so that others can learn about the dire situation in which the children live, but also to show the dignity, beauty, warmth and joy of the Ugandan people.