Photo Essay

Faces of Drought

Last month I traveled to far northern Kenya to document the grueling impact of the current drought on children and families for ChildFund. Most of the stories I captured were of extreme need – stories that I hope will stir hearts and open pocketbooks in order to bring relief to those attempting to endure the current food crisis.

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City of Churches

While on assignment in Nicaragua earlier this month, I got a chance to spend the afternoon in Léon, the City of Churches. Léon is a bastion of Roman Catholic fervor, and its historic colonial temples date back as far as the early 16th century. I first visited Léon ten years ago, but was happy this time to see many of these churches in an improved state of repair. All photographs Copyright 2017 Jake Lyell Photography.

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Smiles from Timor-Leste

One thing I love about working with ChildFund is the bit of extra time they sometimes allow me to focus my lens on a country’s culture and daily life. In addition to shooting a few videos recently for the organization in Timor-Leste, I also shot these photographs, which give bit of insight into the country’s people and the terrain that is their home. Special emphasis was also placed on the beautiful practice of traditional Timorese weaving, seen below, which is a livelihood for many women on the island.    

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Fair Trade Cash Crops

Who says money doesn’t grow on trees? I recently visited several villages in Burkina Faso and Kenya where the primary sources of livelihood fall from the sky, later to be collected from the ground and sold on the market – macadamia and shea nuts. Okay, it’s not always quite that easy, especially for shea nuts, which must go through a rigorous production process, shown below, to be made into a marketable product like shea nut butter or shea nut oil. The photographs shown here were taken for Shared Interest, an investment company in the UK financing fair trade growers and producers in the developing world. They are copyrighted, so please don’t use them without permission.

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Coffee from the Mountains of the Moon

On my whirlwind five-day trip to Uganda last month I managed to cover a lot of ground in both the east and west of the country. Squeezed between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya, Uganda may look like a dwarf on the map, but it’s actually more than double the size of my home state of Virginia. Combining that with some poor road conditions means it can take 12 hours or more to get from one side to the other. Bukonzo Organic Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (BOCU) is a fair trade coffee producer based in the town of Kasese, Uganda. Its coffee farmers, however, grow their crop in the nearby Rwenzori Mountains. Shared Interest invests in BOCU and other fair trade producers around the globe. The Rwenzori Mountains were known to the ancient world as the Mountains of Moon for their snow-capped white peaks. (Sadly there’s little of these […]

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Reaping the Dust

There are some parts of Ethiopia right now that haven’t received more than a few sprinkles of rain in over two years. Since so many people live out in rural areas of the country and have to rely on seasonal rains to grow their own food- raising their own vegetables and livestock on small farms- that means the source of livelihood, nutrition, and sustenance for large numbers of people has vanished. Above, a small farmer sifts through the dust of the field he planted last year, but where nothing germinated. Can you imagine having to provide for your family with just a small farm not much bigger than your back yard? That’s hard enough, but take away the water source and it becomes impossible. Below, a woman in Fentale District scoops water from a shallow well. According to government figures, one in ten Ethiopians has been severely affected by the […]

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Investing in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire

Want to make some extra cash while giving a boost to markets in the developing world? Shared Interest lends capital to fair trade buyer and producer organizations in areas of the world that have limited access to finance. Because they only invest in Fair Trade businesses, that means living wages, better working conditions, and often benefits for workers like health care and education for their children. For many of us in the West, starting a business without the help of a bank would be impossible. Those in the developing world face this challenge and more when beginning a new venture. Yet developing economies will never improve without the expansion of the free market; this can only happen through improving the environment in which business can operate and gain access to capital. This makes the work of companies like Shared Interest all the more crucial. Microfinance this is not; Shared Interest […]

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