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Survivors | Ghana

These two, sweet, young boys have been rescued from a fishing village on Lake Volta in Ghana where they were enslaved. In the safe house where I met them, there were two rooms with bunk beds: one for the girls, another for this boy, Abeiku and his young male friends. The atmosphere was safe, but also abundantly joyful. What struck me as most poignant about the boys was their vulnerability—especially evident in the scars on Abeiku’s face caused by hot oil having been thrown on his face as punishment by his slave-holder—and the wonderment of hope expressed in the younger boy’s uplifted chin and open eyes and mouth. It is as if he is inhaling his first fresh air of freedom, so precious after years of entrapment and abuse. Many of the enslaved children who are forced to work on the water in the illegal fishing trade do not know how to swim. Most of the children I met had lost a friend or family member to drowning.

This image is therefore, an authentic moment. It displays children as caregivers to each other and underscores the vitally important work adults in the safe houses perform as they teach the boys and girls how to be kids again. When I am asked about how I approach composition and technical aspects of photography, I find it hard not to bristle. I don’t think about composition because to me, the images I make are not about technique. They are about the emotion communicated, the inner movement and soul of the person whose image I am making, and the veracity of the tether between the human in the image and the viewer.

Limited Edition


16 x 24 inches (40.64 x 60.96 cm)

24 x 36 inches (60.96 x 91.44 cm)

30 x 45 inches (76.2   x 114.3 cm)

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