The Effective Assistance photo contest was designed to raise awareness about the benefits of assistance that works by bringing together powerful images in support of The Global Partnership for Effective Assistance campaign. The campaign aims to save lives and build self-sufficiency by increasing development and humanitarian assistance, improving aid effectiveness, and building international partnerships.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Among the hallucinations

Finally start feeling some strength in my body, not feeling like vomiting, and the shaking of my body finally stopped. “Finally. It’s about time.” I murmured, yet having enough strength to curse at whatever the left-over of half-dead parasites in my veins.

A little souvenir from Southern Sudan, spending a couple of weeks in the bush, waiting for the chance to photograph LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) solders and their leaders. After all the waiting, sleeping in a mud hut, battling mosquito, eating SPLA solders’ rations (beans and rice, very nice of them that they shared a little they had), I got a few photos of them, and a brief interview with Vincent Otti, the no 2, not Joseph Cony, the head honcho. In one of sweaty and miserable nights, in between the hallucinations, I was wondering, “Was it worth it?”

I was also having repeated flash backs of the memory from more than a decade ago, when I first got the glimpse of the horror of this disease. I was in a dingy room with a single cot, standing in front of a skeleton of man. He was dying. I asked a nurse at the hospital in Phnom Pehn what he is dying for and if there is anything they can do for him. He was dying from malaria and its complications, and there is nothing they can do for him. It’s just too late. “We don’t have enough medicine. Please tell your people we need more medicine,” said the doctor who was showing me the place around. I promised him that I will. There wasn’t enough beds, doctors and nurses, not enough of everything, familiar sites for me now since I started working in Congo. Smell of sickness, open wounds and death saturated the whole place, and it was making me nauseous. Then I woke up from the dream feeling nauseous, making me rush to a bathroom and hug my toilet.

That man could live, go back to his wife, kids and fields if he could have a handful of one of those pills, but he was one of unlucky ones, one of many, one of majority. Malaria, the biggest killer in impoverished countries.

Every time I think of that dying man, the sense of guilt grips me because I didn’t keep my promise to that nice Cambodian doctor. Photographs I took at that hospital that day never got published. I showed photos and told stories to friends and colleagues, but could not find the way to get them published. I was too young and inexperienced. I just quitted my first full-time job as a newspaper photographer in less than a year. I was in between, thinking what to do next. A friend told me that I should go to Cambodia for a while because he knows someone there who works for one of wire agencies and he might be able to use my help. I was green, very green.

Thirteen years since, I see the same thing here in Congo. Hospitals with not enough medicine, beds, doctors, if there is a hospital at all. To my comfort, I have learned my business a little better (although not enough because I am hardly scraping by) and often find the way to get my images to be seen by someone or somewhere. (check out Weekly Asahi this week if you happen to be in Japan. They are running my Congo photos with texts J But it’s not very easy to find someone who is willing to publish images from Africa). Ok. So would that erase, or at least ease my sense of guilt from that day? Well, probably not. I don’t think it would ever go away, and it probably should stay with me for the rest of my career. It would help me motivate and push, keep me going. It’s like my closest friend.

That day at the hospital, I wish I were more experienced and prepared so I could keep my promise to that nice doctor. But I wasn’t. Then do I wish that I never went there that day? Well. No. Because I learned a valuable lesson from the experience, and it still lives with me to this day. I hope that man found the peace in his resting place. I hope some photojournalists more experienced and matured visited that hospital and got the photos and words out, and they received more medicine and saved more lives.

Friday, September 29, 2006

(Mayi-Mayi militiamen at DDR Center in Katanga provice, DR Congo. Photo by Jiro Ose ©)

Just returned to my home base, Brazzaville, Republic of Congo yesterday. I was gone a little Mayi-Mayi militiamen at DDR Center in Katanga provice, DR Congo. Photo by Jiro Ose ©)over 3 weeks, first following Jan Egeland, United Nations’ Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs through DR Congo, Uganda, and Southern Sudan for a week. Then I stayed on in Southern Sudan to cover the truth agreement between LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and Ugandan government. I think I am going to brake up this blog over several days since it was a long trip, plus I am still quite beat.

Following Egeland was hectic one because he was on such a tight schedule. I stringed photos for the Reuters and also filed stories for them for his Congo leg (their correspondent was on vacation). Doing both photos and filing stories for the wire service daily, especially for the trip like this is no fun. He stopped in Katanga, North Kivu and Ituri provinces in Congo. He continued on to Northern Uganda (Gulu and Kampala) and Southern Sudan (Juba).

I’ve been to most places he has visited, but I’ve never traveled in Congo so fast since all the transportation was chartered and arranged for his visit. He did 3-province trip in 4 days. It would take at least 3 weeks if I were on my own, begging to be on UN planes and being a back of motorbike taxi. To be honest, I much prefer to take my time to go to these places in order to make better and more story-telling photos. But I just have to make the best of situation.

The first visit to Katanga was quite intriguing, especially when we met some Mayi-Mayi militia at DDR center. You don’t get to see these guy very often. It’s usually very bad news if you run into these guys in the bush. Although they gave up their weapon after going through DDR program, they were still wearing their talisman blessed by their medicine man. The word Mayi-Mayi means water-water in local language. It comes from the belief that the bullets will turn into water when they are fired upon them because of the protection of powerful medicine man and their talisman.

Egeland seemed very approachable. I interviewed him on the plane on our way to Katanga from Kinshasa for that day’s story. He talked about the continuing abused on civilians by militia, military and civil authority alike, and also the problem of impunity in Congo.

Ok. Got to run to the market to buy some veggie for the dinner! To be continued. Jiro

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Peter Bussian has been a finalist in several categories in the Effective Assistance Photo Competition each year since its beginning.

This photograph is part of a series entitled "Women of Darfur" which he began working on in 2004. Its purpose is to bring attention to the plight of women in Darfur who are particularly being targeted, raped and brutalized.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Jiro Ose: Sandstorm

Jiro Ose was one of the first place winners in the Disaster Response category for the 2005 InterAction Effective Assistance Photo Contest.

The title of the photo is "Sandstorm." A Sudanese boy makes his way to a shelter in the middle of the sandstorm at Kashuni Refugee Camp in Chad, near the Sudan border, in July 2004. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, by late 2004 some 200,000 Sudanese had fled across the border to neighboring Chad and an estimated 1.6 million were displaced within Darfur, where militias reportedly killed, raped and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. The camp is supported by the International Rescue Committee and UNHCR. Humanitarian relief is a concrete way to show the goodwill and strong values of the American people.

Jiro Ose contact information:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

In 2003, InterAction ( began an annual contest designed to raise awareness about the benefits of effective assistance by bringing together powerful images in support of The Global Partnership for Effective Assistance campaign.

The campaign aims to save lives and build self-sufficiency by increasing development and humanitarian assistance, improving aid effectiveness, and building international partnerships.

Submissions focused on one or a combination of the following areas:

Basic education
Health care
Work and farming skills
Reducing hunger
Women and girls
Refugee and disaster response
Peace and democracy