Most inspiring photos from 2016 to give you hope for 2017
You probably never heard of these events in 2016. A 9-year-old girl in Zambia who finally has clean water to drink. A refugee pastor serving other refugees in Iraq. An Indian teenager tutoring children who live on a garbage dump. World Vision’s photographers captured hundreds of moments that tell the story of the amazing people we serve in nearly 100 countries. Here are 11 of their best of 2016 with hope for a 2017 full of joy and peace.
Pooja gives her toddler a drink of fresh, clean water from a water purifier in Agra, India. Every 10 seconds World Vision helps bring clean water to a new person around the world, through wells, water catchment systems, water purifiers, and more. Every drop is life-saving.
Children run across a field as storm clouds bring rain to a village in Magoye, Zambia. The clouds looked ominous to me, but the farmers there were delighted for rain after months of drought.
In April, eight-year-old Nelly’s family fled from their village due to heavy fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Her mom woke them in the middle of the night and they ran as bombs rained around them. They found a place to settle in rural northern Armenia. “We had nothing at all, and World Vision gave us clothes, shoes, toys,” said Nelly. They started a new life. World Vision is ensuring Nelly and her siblings are getting an education, as well as giving them a cow to provide the children with nutritious milk.
Two years before this photo was taken, Father Daniel was celebrating Mass at Mar Elia church in Erbil, Kurdistan. It was August 7, 2014. After the service, he stepped outside to enjoy the warm Sunday morning. “The place was filled with Christians,” he says. “I was shocked. I didn’t know what happened.” He soon found out. Overnight, as many as 120,000 Christians had fled from nearby Mosul to escape the fighting. Father Daniel turned from pastor to protector. It was a lot of responsibility for a young priest.
Father Daniel was only 24, but he snapped into action. More than 1,600 people moved onto the lawn of the church, sleeping first in tents and then moving into small trailers without bathrooms or kitchens. I loved being in Father Daniel’s presence in Iraq. He’s warm and funny and preaches in Aramaic, the language of Jesus. But what I loved most about this service was witnessing how people who have lost everything, like the woman in blue, still have something to give.
Churchgoers say Jennifer is the first one to arrive each Sunday at the Buruza Catholic Church in Hoima, Uganda, where she has worshipped since she was a little girl. But a fistula rupture during a difficult childbirth experience meant that smelly urine leakage kept her from going inside anymore because she was so embarrassed and others looked at her as unclean. A month after I took this photograph, Jennifer’s fistula was repaired at a World Vision Uganda surgical camp. Now Jennifer prays inside her church on Sundays.
Edwin, 9, loves to swing in the hammock on his front porch. He also loves to go to school and to take his grandpa, Jose, lunch in the field where his grandpa grows watermelons, peppers, and tomatoes. Jose and his wife are part of a World Vision small business savings group helping farmers to expand their crops and gain access to local markets to sell them. Because of this, Edwin is part of a new generation full of hope and joy. I loved his hat with the card showing the cross and, most of all, the slightly jaunty tilt of his head.
Burning garbage provides a few minutes of warmth for a Syrian refugee family in the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, close to the Syrian border. Twenty-five percent of Lebanon’s population is made up of refugees. Even with all the hardships they faced, the families welcomed us and were eager to share their stories.
Teachers at Bow Lake Elementary in Seatac, Washington, react to a display of school supplies they received from World Vision and their Parent Teacher Organization in August, just days before the school year began. The great thing about making pictures for World Vision is that we are like family — our donors, the warehouse staff who deliver the supplies, the school staff, and the volunteers who set up the event.
Teachers in this area often spend their own money on supplies for their students. For some of them, receiving these supplies meant a legitimate burden would be lifted. The reveal in this scene happened fast. I squeezed behind the table displaying the school supplies and gifts, aimed my telephoto lens around a few volunteers in my view, and snagged a few frames of the teachers oohing and ahhing. Finding these fleeting moments of joy inspires me.
When people ask about my visit to India, I tell them about 15-year-old sponsored child Arti in south Delhi. Despite her own challenging circumstances, Arti (center) spends a few days a week playing games, teaching hand-washing techniques, and tutoring children living in a nearby garbage dump. Witnessing the inspiration she brings to this community has challenged my own capacity to give and think of others ahead of myself.
During a routine visit to Miriam Alvarez’s home in Otavalo, Ecuador, midwife Mercedes Muenala, 53, gently examines Miriam, who is 34 weeks pregnant with her second child. One of 50 midwives serving the area, Mercedes has done this work for years, supported by World Vision to provide care for expectant mothers. Miriam was gracious to let me into her modest home to get a glimpse of life with a midwife. It all says, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of you.”
I had to run to keep up with 9-year-old Ruth as she raced home from fetching water in Mwamba, northwestern Zambia. This time she had only one bucket, but sometimes she carried two on her head, making multiple trips each day. Snakes on the path and a sore back weren’t the only dangers. Children in her community had died from drinking the contaminated water. And her family had stopped going to church because it was so hard to get enough clean water to wash up beforehand. But only a couple months after I got back from covering this story, I received a wonderful gift via email — a picture of smiling Ruth pumping clean drinking water from a new World Vision borehole near her home!