Wednesday, February 14, 2018

12 photos that meant the most to me on my latest assignment to Congo.

It's not easy for me to edit photos like these. I go to bed and see their eyes as I try to sleep. I remember all too well. The smell, the temperature, the harshness of the environment they live in and the context in which we met. Right now, in this very moment, even as you read these words, there's a silent crisis unfolding in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last year (on average) 30-50 people crossed the border each day. As of January, those numbers are closer to 500 per day. Medical Teams International are also there, right now, providing emergency and ongoing medical care to these precious people - now refugees.  Here's the 12 photos that meant the most to me from my trip two weeks ago.

This mother and child woke up a couple weeks ago and realized their entire village had packed up and left. Gun fire sounded in the distance and so she grabbed a bag and her other children and walked to Uganda. As she crossed the border we met and hopped into this UNHCR truck together.  I sat in the back of that truck with other refugees like her to a transit center where they began their new lives as refugees escaping the violence and conflict of their home country. When the truck slowed down to pass over a speed bump I took this shot.

Waiting in line to be bio-metric registered as refugees by UNHCR, this young boy caught my eye.

On arrival at a border point/transit centre Medical Teams International provides health screening and immunisations for incoming  refugees.
This little 18 month old baby girl weighs 6 kilos (13 pounds). Her parents have both died and her grandmother (in red) is now her caregiver. The Medical Teams International staff are coming alongside her to provide nutrition support to help her grow.
This is what it looks like to register as a refugee in February 2018 on the border of Congo to Uganda. This Mum caught my eye, as did her beautiful children. Exhausted. 
Living conditions for 2700 Congolese refugees arriving into the transit centre on the border of Uganda

Standing in the doorway of the MTI clinic this beautiful little girl lost her Daddy just days earlier. Her and her two sisters and baby brother are now refugees living in Uganda.
Health Screening is an important first step for refugees arriving into Uganda. Babies that need food will get it, Mums that need medicine will be given it and children that are sick will be seen and cared for.

The "'pharmacy"' inside a transit centre is this grey box filled daily with medicines to help the huge influx of refugees coming in.

I noticed these boys being registered and immediately went to inquire. "'Unaccompanied children"' the registrar said. We talked for a minute or two about the background details he was getting from them 6, 8 (twins) and 12. And my heart sank.  Took this photo then turned away and let the tears slip down my cheeks.

New arrival family unpacking their things.

Seeing hundreds of people wait in line for food is a hard thing to experience. I think its the dignity element and the control element that bother me the most. 

To support the work of Medical Teams International please visit

A couple weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a few days with the team at Medical Teams International. Their work seems them provide medical care for hundreds of thousands of refugees here in Uganda. But the crisis that's captured their attention right now is the one happening right on the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Last year 30-50 people crossed per day. But as of January it's been around 400-500 people per day. This is a small selection of some of the images that meant the most to me on my most recent trip.