Marty focuses on people --victims-- from Bosnia to Rwanda, from Guatemala to India, from Liberia to Sierra Leone. The scenes are painfully intimate. In the wake of his subjects' individual traumas, Marty manages to break down their defensive walls. The funny thing is he rarely says much to them while he works. Instead he compels them through the unspoken compassion that they see clearly in his eyes. And they speak to us through his.
-- Frank Smyth,
Through the years, from Bosnia to Rwanda, I've seen, heard and breathed the aftermath of man's brutality. I work primarily in the area of documenting relief efforts and development programs for international charitable organizations in post-conflict situations. Because of the nature of this work, I rarely cross paths with other journalists. I'm generally in one of these places after the "media value" of a genocide, civil war, or famine story has dissipated.
Sometimes things work out, and the bureaucracy is cast aside and by the strength of people committed to helping, the work of aid is accomplished. Suddenly, you have lives being saved or families returning home.
Knowing what I know today, if I hadn't become so obsessed with features and documentary photography, I'd be running a charity for a children's cause in Africa or India.... and I still might give that a shot. Of all the charities I've worked with, both big and small, I'd say that Scottish International Relief, which is also the smallest one I've worked with, has really gotten it right-- that's to say that they spend very little on administration, they send out a lot of aid and fund a lot of really effective, long-term projects. All this comes from a few people who get contributions from Scots, many of whom live in urban areas where unemployment rates reach up to nearly 40%.
For every individual you see, I have images of hundreds more. For every victim around the world that gets any attention whatsoever, there are millions more who never get noticed. The flipside to cruelty is compassion. My experience is that it (compassion) can thrive in the most horrific conditions.
My heroes include people who rise to the
challenge of helping others. Many of them are the family or friends of
victims. Others try to improve the lives of people they have never met.
They are out there by the thousands in places like Africa, Central America,
South Asia, the Balkans, Washington, DC.
Martin Lueders with Captain Gregorio Fuentes, on whom Ernest Hemingway based his story of "The Old Man and the Sea"; in Havana, Cuba.
by Martin Lueders
Hope and Horror in Sierra Leone
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