I’ve been working in the IDP camps in northern Uganda for the past three days. I photographed over 50 women and children in their homes. Needless to say I am exhausted but I have to remember I get to go home and the refugees have to remain in the camps. I try and help with my work and hopefully this story will bring some attention to their situation.
In a statement, UNHCR, notes that an average of more than 1,800 South Sudanese refugees a day have fled to Uganda in the past year. The influx has become the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. More than 85 per cent of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda are women and children under the age of 18. The Ugandans have provided them with land and UNHCR has provided them with shelter and food. Diseases like malaria are rampant but the majority of them have nets for their beds. Since my visit last year, they have established communities and a local trading market.
Because of the war, the refugees have little hope of ever returning to South Sudan. Most have lived there over a year and admit, “Uganda is their home now.”
Thankful for the women who let me into their lives to photograph them. Most of all, I am thankful for this beautiful country. I loved every second.
Please see my work form Thailand “Change of Story”
Palabek Refugee Settlement, Northern Uganda. The conflict in South Sudan has forced millions of people out of their homes and into these camps. Uganda has offered its land to the refugees and has accommodated over two million throughout the country. Busloads of refugees are dropped every day. The high commissioner at this camp said they receive 600-1000 people daily. “In Africa, you can’t even understand the purpose of rebellion. People just want power.” The High Commissioner at the Palabek Refugee Settlement speaking on the crisis in South Sudan
Women are the beating heart of Africa. They are the blood
that keeps this country alive. During the LRA war women in Uganda were abused,
denied education, and deprived of their human dignity. In the past 10 years,
these women have become educated, independent, and empowered. Overcoming
economic and financial issues, they are an inspiration and modern day success
story. Empowering the women of Uganda is essential to the success of this
developing country. Through education and technical training, these women in
Uganda were able to get jobs, earn a living, and become successful small
business owners. Programs such as U-Touch Worldwide, teaches women the life
skills and technical training they need to grow as women and become
professionally successful. These women are the future of Uganda and this series
shows them thriving in their place of work.
Very honored and excited to have been awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2016 International Photography Awards. Found out a little late :)
Photograph: Shane Ortega, Transgender Military, 2016
Africa has filled my heart in ways I can’t explain. Uganda is full of so much hope and love. After years of suffering during the LRA war, the people seem to be positive and thriving. Thru education and technical training, aid organizations are bringing sustainable life skills to the country. People have hope now. Everyone wants education and they will work hard to get it. Walking from their village for hours to learn basic computer skills. Things that us in the west have access to every day of our life.
I had the amazing opportunity to photograph at the South Sudanese refugee camp (pictured above). The UNHCR is working day and night trying to accommodate all of the 2 million refugees that have come to Uganda. At the Lamow camp, they receive 600-1000 refugees by busloads daily. It is amazing how Uganda has handled this crisis. Offering their land and support to the refugees. The rest of the world should take note. They know how bad life can get and did not think twice when offering their help to their neighboring country.
Hawaii days staying in my memory. Missing that warm water on this cold day in LA
I had the incredible opportunity to spend time with the Kogi Tribe in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains. I was fascinated by their beliefs and fierce protection of earth or “The Great Mother.” Over the years, they have come out of the mountains and given us this message, “From the Heart of the World,” in which they remind us that we must also care for the Earth and help restore health and balance to our Sacred Mother.
“The Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying. They honor a holy mountain which they call “Gonawindua.” They believe that this mountain is “The Heart of the World” and they are the “Elder Brothers” who care for it. They also say that the outside civilization is the “Younger Brothers” who were sent away from The Heart of the World long ago.”