This face has haunted me for 9 years now. In 2006 I left my comfy existence in Vermont for an independent tour of Southeast Asia. I flew solo for 3 months testing my courage and resilience on an eye-opening adventure. On a swing through Cambodia, and the obligatory stop at Angkor Wat, I met this young girl. She was just one of many scruffy, yet captivating, children that attempt to endear themselves to the hundreds of tourists that descend upon this sacred site. All this little girl had to do was look at me: I melted, and took this photo.
The New York Times recently published a riveting 3-part story titled, The Displaced, about the 30 million, yes 30 million, children that have been displaced by numerous wars and uprisings around the world.
Please take a moment to read this article.
30 million children, frightened, homeless and all struggling to survive. Wrap that statistic around your head as you watch your children, or your nieces and nephews, as they clamor for the latest tech thingy or Balmain frock at H&M. Don't get me wrong, I'm not here to rant on the state of the global human condition, or overindulged American youth. I just want, as a photographer, for everyone to see the innocent faces of these children.
We may not be able to appease tyrannical foreign governments, or cool radical extremists, but by looking into the eyes of some of these displaced children, and imagining their struggle, maybe we could do a better job in raising a more compassionate generation. This is happening on our watch: bad on us. A truly warmhearted generation may have both the understanding and means to make sure this never happens again.
As for my little girl in Cambodia, pictured above, your guess is as good as mine. Is she still living in squalor along the river in Seim Reap? Does she have a young innocent of her own to feed? Is she still even alive? I don't have these answers, but this compelling little girl has touched my heart forever, just like the children in the Displaced story. All these faces have changed how I look at the world and its inhabitants. I have now begun to recognize the worldwide adversity and unfairness, especially for children. Can any of us afford to look away?
A final image of another innocent of Cambodia, taken on the same trip.
Live in color,
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