Life Is Hard, But Only If You Let It Be
It was probably 40 degrees centigrade outside, with no shade in sight except for this massive tree in the middle of the settlement. That tree, being the only source of shade, inevitably became the meeting point to discuss important matters.
Important matters, in this accidental village, came down to survival needs like food, water, and shelter. Especially water. You see, this refugee camp in Uganda became a permanent village, but it was never meant that way. Refugees were placed there and given close to no resources for survival.
They had two ponds a few kilometers away. That was their main source of water, and even those dried out with summer’s heat. When it wasn’t dry, it was contaminated beyond measure.
I was sent there as a photographer to document the situation. The goal was to raise awareness and funds to build a borehole well so that they’d never run out of water again. Thankfully, we ended up succeeding.
I never expected that I’d be the star of the trip. Kids ran to me and wanted to have their photos taken. It just might have been the first time in their life that they had a photo of themselves taken.
The kids were dirty, unsurprisingly. Some of them likely never took a bath or a shower. When you have to choose between drinking water or clean yourself, the choice is pretty obvious. Most of the adults showered once a week. And all that without soap. Kids raised in the village never really saw soap. Some of them even thought it was food when we gave it to them.
The lack of quality water and hygiene led to diarrhea. And for those who don’t know, in poor countries, it’s the leading cause of deaths. You can imagine the urgency of bringing these people water and soap.
So, as a photographer, I looked around and walked with the kids, meeting new people from the village and taking photos along the way. I documented the situation. Adults had a grim face, as one would expect. They had lived through real shit in their lives.
But the kids were oblivious to all that. To say that these kids were the happiest kids I had seen in my life would be an understatement. They had nothing, lived in the worst conditions in the world, worked from…