Telling Stories of Perseverance from Afghanistan and Kilimanjaro

Mt. Kilimanjaro

My alma mater, the University of Missouri, is known for its School of Journalism. And the School of Journalism is known for the quality of work done by its graduates.

Two of those graduates have been featured this year in Mizzou Magazine for their international-themed documentaries, in which people courageously face the challenges before them.

Afghanistan: No One Should Be Forgotten

In the winter issue, Mo Scarpelli talks about her motivation for making documentaries. “The stories I’m interested in,” she says, “inform and provoke people to learn about something or start questioning things in their world.” It is this mindset that led her, and fellow director/producer Alexandria Bombach, to film Frame by Frame, which follows four photojournalists in post-Taliban Afghanistan.

One of those four is Massoud Hossaini, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012 for his photo showing the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Kabul.

When the Taliban were overthrown, taking photos became legal again. But with the withdrawal of US troops, Hossaini and others are concerned that their rights will once again be lost. “This is a big possibility that the world . . . I mean . . . forget us again,” Houssaini says in the documentary. He doesn’t believe that anyone should be forgotten:

The world now is like one body, so all the member of this body should know that one member has a pain. And they should feel this, and they should know, and they should find out.

Kilimanjaro: More than a Hike

Steve Remich, another MU alum, is the videographer and co-editor behind Life in Motion: Kilimanjaro 2014. The short documentary shows Alex D’Jamoos, a young man without legs, and others climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Their trek was sponsored by the Happy Families International Center (HFIC), a non-profit that helps disabled children in orphanages get the medical care they need.

In Mizzou Magazine‘s fall issue, Remich says his hope in the documentary is to show something larger than just a climb up Kilimanjaro:

With the video, I really wanted to tell a short story that was about more than a hike. Sure it’s physically difficult and you wonder if you can make it to the top, but the entire point of hiking the highest mountain in Africa on prosthetic legs is about the symbolism of the act. Alex said something very powerful in one of our interviews, essentially that walking—for him—is not about mobility but about being normal. That really stuck with me, and I did my best to build a story around that idea.

D’Jamoos came to the US for surgery when he was 15 and was adopted by a family in Dallas soon after. He’s now a student at the University of Texas, planning to become an international lawyer.

“Even now, it’s surreal to me that I am a UT student,” D’Jamoos tells The Alcalde, the alumni magazine of The University of Texas. “It sounds a bit crazy. You know, ‘disabled Russian orphan comes to America, goes to college, climbs Kilimanjaro?’ Well, yeah.”

(Kelsey Allen, “Frame by Frame,” Mizzou Magazine, November 11, 2014; “Life in Motion,” Mizzou Magazine, August 19, 2015; Rose Cahalan, “The Climb,” The Alcalde, Jan/Feb 2015)

[photo: “Kili 56,” by Sam Haley, used under a Creative Commons license]


POYi, the Best Show-and-Tell of the Year

The bust of Donald W. Reynolds is displayed in the Reynolds Journalism Institute at MU.

Last week, Pictures of the Year International completed its slate of winners for 2013, marking its 70th annual competition. POYi, “the oldest and most prestigious photojournalism program in the world,” is sponsored by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

Below is a list of 14 winning photo collections that offer a great show-and-tell of global and cross-cultural issues. There’s a lot here, but it’s still only a small part of this year’s entire POYi gallery. It’s well worth your time to settle down with a cup (or a pot) of coffee and click through all the winners, including the work of Paul Hansen, who was awarded Photographer of the Year honors in the newspaper division. Earlier in February, Hansen’s “Gaza Burial,” was named World Press Photo of the Year.

If, after looking at these photos, you’re inspired to try the challenging life of an international photojournalist yourself, watch the video at the end of this post. It’s Ed Kashi’s Photojournalisms, the third-place multimedia documentary winner. A companion to his book Witness #8: Photojournalisms, the short video was made from a compilation of Kashi’s photos and nearly 20 year of journal entries and emails addressed to his wife. “Home for me,” he writes, “has always been a shifting term, with shifting people and shifting objects vying for my attention.”

Here, in no particular order, are some of the people and objects that caught the attention of some very talented and dedicated photographers in 2012:

Life without Lights, Peter DiCampo
+++1.5 billion people around the globe don’t have access to electricity.

The Siege of Aleppo, Javier Manzano (includes graphic images of war)
+++The U.N. recently reported that nearly 70,000 have died in Syria’s civil war.

Beyond 7 Billion, Rick Loomis, et al.
+++“The biggest generation in history is just entering its childbearing years.”

North Korea—Collectivism, Vincent Yu
+++While the majority of North Koreans suffer, the government presents a “glossy” image to the world.

Water Is Personal, Brent Stirton
+++Drought, floods, and lack of clean water affect people all over the world.

A Long Walk, Shannon Jensen
+++These are the shoes of refugees who fled northern Sudan.

Paris Suburbs, Arnau Bach
+++Poverty and drug trafficking are prevalent in the neighborhoods surrounding Paris.

Dark Isolation, Tokyo, Salvi Danés Vernedas
+++“It is easy to find oneself isolated and alone among a crowd.”

Labor Movement, Alejandro Cargagena
+++From an overpass above a highway in Monterrey, Mexico, one can see laborers traveling to work in the open beds of pickup trucks.

Uncounted Casualties, Jay Janner
+++“They survived the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. But they did not survive the homecoming.”

In the Devil’s Footsteps, Tyler Anderson
+++The people of Northern Uganda try to recover from the devastation left by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army.

Buzkashi, Casper Hedberg
+++North of Kabul, thousands gather to watch Afghanistan’s national sport in which men on horseback fight over an animal carcass.

Zone of Absolute Discomfort, Justin Jin
+++Few people live in the frozen tundra of the Russian Arctic.

Fukushima: Taking Back a Nuclear No-Man’s Land, James Whitlow Delano
+++Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster left “a vast network of nuclear ghost towns” waiting to be reclaimed.

[photo: “Reynolds Statue, Reynolds Journalism Institute,” by moohappy, used under a Creative Commons license]