My retrospective humanitarian photography exhibit, Safe Passage, opened Friday at the main branch of the Richmond Public Library in downtown RVA. It will remain open until September 4th. This e-exhibit is for those of you too distant to visit in person.

Children displaced from the Democratic Republic of Congo play on a homemade scooter in Kiziba Refugee Camp in neighboring Rwanda. According to the U.N., in 2017 the total number of refugees and internally displaced people reached a record high of 68.5 million people worldwide. More than half are children. 2011

All of us dream about what we might do with our winnings if we were lucky enough to win the lottery. What if someone told you you’d already won? The citizenship lottery, that is. You live here. For most of us, the inequalities and hardships within our own borders cannot compare to the level of hardship that exists in the developing world. A water tap in our home, free public education, a childhood without forced labor – all of these are liberties enjoyed by most American children.

A child crosses the Itaya River in the Amazon basin by boat taxi in Iquitos, Peru. Known as the “Venice of the Amazon,” Iquitos is the largest city in the world that cannot be accessed by road. 2007

As our country struggles over its southern border and hundreds of migrants land on Europe’s shores each day, much of the rhetoric in the West centers around how we “deal with” or “process” these people. There seems to be little effort to understand the circumstances that cause families to migrate to begin with. My goal in this exhibit is not just to highlight the hardships and inequalities children face outside our borders, but also to allow the viewer to imagine a childhood lived in those circumstances. I also wish to show that practical solutions to these issues do exist if we’re willing to put resources into addressing them.

Yensi (12) lives in Honduras’ Santa Barbara Department. Because Honduras is one of the most violent nations in the world, many of its children miss out on childhood. 2018

Many of these photographs were captured while on assignment for ChildFund International, a nonprofit organization based here in Richmond that works to protect children across the developing world while positively transforming the environments in which they grow up. ChildFund and other likeminded organizations strive to provide safe passage for children from their earliest years through youth and into adulthood – no matter where they are.

A mother and father present their child for christening during an Anglican church service in Amuria, Uganda. 2011
Boys pile onto a bicycle together in Lodwar Province, Kenya. 2011
John-Michael (10) works daily in the sugarcane fields of Talisay, Philippines. He is one of about 3.2 million children in the country engaged in child labor. 2015
Many children in the developing world are denied their right to an education, forced instead to work. Here, a boy works as a mud brickmaker in Mukono District, Uganda. 2012
Manish (5) and his mother, Sugna, read a book they received through a ChildFund-supported reading initiative at their home in Rajasthan, India. 2015
Governments in developing countries often lack the resources to provide adequate infrastructure and services. Public school classes sometimes meet under the shade of a tree or, as seen here in Kajiado County, Kenya, in a crowded mud shack. 2015
Raising chickens is more than a hobby for families in Africa. Breeding and selling them brings needed income, and their eggs are a dependable source of nutrition for kids. Here, Ndinda (13) feeds her family’s chickens in Makueni County, Kenya. The family relies on income from chicken sales to send Ndinda to school. 2017
In the world’s poorest places, opportunities to continue education beyond high school are extremely limited. Here, Sharda (18, left) learns sewing and tailoring at a ChildFund-supported vocational training center in Rajasthan, India. 2015
A child carries a bundle of firewood home in Fentale District, Ethiopia. The use of trees for fuel wood is a major contributor to erosion and deforestation throughout the developing world. 2017
Joel, 4, travels by llama through the Andes Mountains of Cotopaxi Province, Ecuador. Llamas are used by families both for their wool and their ability to carry heavy loads over steep trails for long distances. 2017
It’s not uncommon for girls to marry and bear children at young ages in the developing world. Here, Tume (17) who never attended school, carries her 1-year-old son, Muro, in Marsabit County, Kenya. 2017
Arnel (15, center) plays basketball with his friends in Talisay, Philippines. ChildFund’s LEAP program (Livelihoods, Education, Advocacy and Protection) works closely with local communities and the sugarcane industry to keep children like Arnel out of child labor. 2015
Yiaai Ene serves her children Elkan (2, left) and Tupet (5, right) a meal of beans and cornmeal porridge, known locally as ugali, at the family’s home in Kajiado County, Kenya. Tupet suffers from malnutrition and stunted growth due to her limited diet, which rarely includes fruits or vegetables. 2015
Memory (23) and daughter Nancy (20 months) show their love at a nutritional outreach and growth monitoring session supported by ChildFund in Chainda, Zambia. Because the earliest years of children’s lives are the most crucial for their development, much of ChildFund’s programming focuses on proper nutrition, child protection and early stimulation for children ages 0 to 5. 2017
Mwangela (8) digs for water in a dry riverbed in Makueni County, Kenya. While dry and rainy seasons have always been a part of life in sub-Saharan Africa, in recent years rainfall patterns have become erratic, sparking both floods and food crises in places like Kenya and Ethiopia. 2017.
Misra (6) receives a cup of water after mealtime at a ChildFund-supported early childhood development (ECD) center in Fentale District, Ethiopia, during the East African food crisis of 2017. During such crises, ChildFund’s ECD centers often serve as places of refuge and sustenance for communities like this one. 2017
As 7-month-old Jjuma is treated for malaria at an underserved hospital in Bundibugyo, Uganda, his attending nurse substitutes a rubber glove for a tourniquet. In sub-Saharan Africa, about 445,000 people die of malaria each year, most of them children. Various malaria vaccinations are now in their trial phases. It’s possible the disease will be eradicated in our lifetime. 2017
In Nepal’s Gorkha District, Sita (49) and her son, Bisan (2), became homeless in the devastating 2015 earthquake that killed more than 9,000 people. The bindis that adorn their foreheads are a sign of piety and a constant reminder to keep God at the center of one’s thoughts. 2015
Amu, 8, fills her container at a water collection point that ChildFund installed in Ethiopia’s drought-stricken Fentale district. 2017
Kadija Bagayoko (34) bathes her 5-year-old daughter, Sira, in Mali’s capital city of Bamako. In this crowded slum, many families live in close quarters and in the open. 2010