By doing the work I do, I realise on a daily basis that what is normal for me, isn’t always that normal. By seeing, experiencing and capturing the struggle some people have, I am fully aware that what is seen as self-evident at home, actually is not. Even though together we have come up with a guidebook of human rights, I see stories that make me feel humanity is denying these same rights to so many. I feel grateful that I am able to tell some of these stories of people for whom it’s tough or maybe even impossible to tell it theirselves. As I do believe that the more we all see of the world around us, the more we connect with it, the more we can understand it. And when we can understand the world around us, I hope we will understand that every human should have the right to share their story - big or small - and to be seen by the world around them.
Bloodcoal in Colombia
Between 1995 and 2005, many people from rural communities in Cesar - a region in northern Colombia - were forcefully displaced from their lands. Paramilitary groups, hired by international coal mining companies, intimidated, kidnapped and murdered people in order for these large companies to obtain community lands. Together with the Dutch organisation PAX, I visited these communities, to see where their members live now, what they have lost and how they cope with the struggle to obtain reparation and land restitution, as well as the truth about the violence that they suffered.
Kibera is the largest slum of Nairobi. The people that live there have little chance of getting out and life can be quite the struggle. As anywhere else in the world, when the struggle is real, music seams to be a vital way of coping. Visiting this area with a foundation that helps young creative musicians in shanty towns to get their talent out and to get them to understand what their rights are, was truly inspiring.
Being gay in Kampala
Clare is a gay woman in Kampala, Uganda. In the past, that one little sentence would have never made a lot of impact to me. I would have known that it’s tricky in a country where it is not allowed to love whoever you want to love, but I didn’t feel the impact it could have. Until I was invited to just walk with her for a day or two. Being outcasted, threatened and all at the same time staying positive ánd loving to the world, Clare taught me some valuable lessons about life.
Sexual violence in South Sudan
In 2014 I was asked to have an exhibition to raise awareness for women and girls in war-torn countries, who were sexually abused. I traveled to South Sudan and to Uganda, meeting women in IDP refugee camps. Places were sexual violence is continuous recurring. Hearing the stories, connecting with the people living in these conditions and experiencing the every day life they live, changed my view of the world for good. With the exhibition I organised a benefit to raise money for this specific topic.
Water in Ghorka
Living in The Netherlands it is the most normal thing to drink water from my tap. It is a commodity that I you wouldn’t even think about. Not so much in so many different parts of the world. In 2015 I was asked to document the impact of the earthquake in Nepal. Specifically on water, sanitation and hygiene. Seeing how far people had to walk to get their water, storage that was broken, toilets that were out of use, creating the problem of open defecation, the chain of events seemingly unstoppable.
Radio for Syria
During a war, getting news out and informing the people is probably one of the hardest things to do. Together with Radio Netherlands Worldwide I traveled to Gaziantep Turkey, right on the border with Syria. There we delivered a ‘Radio in a Box’: a fully equipped FM radio station in less than one cubic meter. That ‘RIAB’ could easily be taken back into Syria in order to get the proper information broadcasted.