I travelled to many places with the IFRC as Regional Community Engagement Delegate (so, coordinating the way the red cross interacts with, informs, and collects feedback from refugees – across Europe) – but I definitely spent the most of my time visiting refugee camps in Greece. I started off my contract by immediately being deployed to the island Lesvos – where most people were arriving at the time. I also went several times to the north of Greece, to Idomeni and different locations around Thessaloniki and Athens. The job was difficult and very demanding, but also very rewarding – I had the opportunity to meet with amazing refugee volunteers, and the Greek people was extraordinarily hospitable and helpful in this very difficult situation.
And then, as a great bonus, there were all the colleagues and staff from partner organisations that I got to work closely with – engaged, passionate and hard-working people. Work-wise, it was both the most demanding and inspiring assignment I’ve had so far, with true solidarity at its core.
I didn’t get photos of all the workshops, missions and travels I did with the IFRC, but here are some of them. I had the opportunity to visit some of the Red Crescent community centres in Turkey’s Ankara, Konya and Istanbul, I got to visit different camps in Macedonia, I did presentations in Sofia, Budapest, and Vienna, I participated in the Regional Disaster Response Team training in Bulgaria, and I took part in a global workshop to define the first Red Cross Red Crescent movement guide for community engagement and accountability. An intense learning period, definitely.
I’m very excited to finally share the publication of photos & stories that I was sent to Honduras to produce for UNICEF in November. You can see some screenshots below, and download the entire book using this link.
You can read more about my impressions from the trip and see some behind-the-scenes photos here.
In November, I was contacted by UNICEF Honduras to support the office with their visual communication and fundraising by producing a book with stories and photos from several of their initiatives around the country. My boss here in Belize agreed to let me go for a week, and I went for a 10 day – Friday to Sunday – deep-dive field mission.
I spent the days photographing and listening to people, which as you know are my two favourite things in the world. It was an amazing trip – and a very exhausting one – not only because of the overload of new information, long hours and distances travelled by car, but mainly because of the people I met and the stories they shared with me. Life in Honduras definitely has its challenges, many of them related to the widespread violence, poverty and lack of job opportunities – taking all of that in, trying to understand, listening, asking questions, taking notes, photographing.. was intense. Interviewing people about their personal experiences is not easy, you have to keep your empathy chip on while disconnecting emotionally – and just managing that is draining. It’s only later, when out of context, that the mind realizes the intensity of the experiences lived and the emotions kick in again. Combine that with the Paris attacks and globally increased racist sentiment that happened the same week and an overall gloomy time here. It was a particularly hard week, but nevertheless rich in new knowledge and refreshed willingness to continue doing what I do. The importance of giving a voice to these adolescents is higher than anything else, and it was as always very inspiring to get a glimpse of their dedication and young passionate minds. I love this job.
I will share the publication and the stories in January. Until then, here’s a small view of how things went down.
And yes, the local media got to me, haven’t found that clip though. haha
It is a great pleasure to share with you all the freshly produced short documentary, Beat a Pan, Not a Man that I have worked on for UNICEF Belize together with the much talented producer Brent Toombs.
The production is a journey through emotions and an insight into the lives of young people living in the very violent parts of Belize City – and shows us how a UNICEF Belize supported initiative, implemented by local partners Restore Belize and the National Institute of Culture and History, helps these children get out of their violent environments and instead focus on learning how to play music and having fun.
The video producer prepared a cool 1 minute trailer for the video, and then we released the full length 10 minute documentary last Friday. Enjoy!
Last week we celebrated the UN Day here in Belize, along with the rest of the world. I supported in planning the event and supervising the two video productions – one to commemorate the 70 years of the UN in Belize, and the other to document the event in itself.
It was great fun, but I was accidentally caught on camera while taking a photo and holding my sunglasses – you’ll see it below. An otherwise cool image, I had to ask the producers to cut it out due to the quite obvious accidental super-fail. Haha!
Today, we supervised the delivery of family hygiene kits to the Government for distribution to the families affected by the recent floods in Belize. But instead of a photo of a person wearing one logo handing over a box to another person wearing another logo, I took a “what’s in my bag” kind of photo of the kit itself.
Because what’s more interesting than the fact that access to soap can be life saving for small children? These are important basic hygiene items that some families have been deprived of.
I’m really enjoying the storytelling workshops that I’m doing with our partners here in Belize.
Sharing insights and advice on storytelling, fundraising, reporting and, as an added bonus, photography, is a way for UNICEF to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of local initiatives.
Important to point out about the UN in general, is that our goal is to eventually “not be necessary” and to create independence rather than being a “forever financial supporter”.
Teaching organizations how to raise funds from international donors and make partnerships with the private sector in the country, how to document their activities through stories and photography, how to give their beneficiaries a voice and space in their communication, and how to tell a good story to highlight the importance of the work they are doing – the added value in that is far larger than just supporting their activities financially – and is very much in line with the values of UNICEF.
Held a storytelling, reporting, fundraising and photography workshop for some of our Civil Society partner organizations in the south today. Was a fun day with very active and enriching participation – thanks all!