Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love in a war zone

One thing I love about Oxfam (where I work) is the attitude about the people we work with. Too many nonprofits paint poor people as miserable victims, waiting for aid from rich countries. There's that inevitable photo of the crying baby.

Oxfam sent the photographer Rankin to a refugee camp in Congo to get a different kind of picture. He writes:

I expected to be depressed. I had done my homework; the statistics were horrific. I could only imagine what the human face of those statistics would look like. The people I met confounded my expectations. I met fathers, mothers, children... all getting on with life, making it through, even having a laugh and a joke. These people didn't see themselves as victims, despite the bad hand that fate had dealt them. They were human beings, exactly the same as you and me.

View a slideshow of Congolese refugees telling about the people and things they love. Don't get me wrong, these people need help. They need clean water, homes, a way to make a living. Most of all they need an end to the war. But they are people, not numbers.

"I love my guitar. It is my most precious possession. I have had to run from my village three times because of the war. I leave everything behind except my guitar. Even if it's dangerous I always go home and take my guitar before I run. I can forget all of my worries when I'm playing."

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