From the Field

2021 life frames: Storytelling from World Vision photographers

More than 2,500 people, largely from the Northern Triangle of Central America, have tried to create a semblance of shelter in a city park in Matamoros, Mexico, near the U.S. border. Children and families have fled their homes, mostly due to violence and insecurity. Some have been here since July 2019, waiting for asylum hearings and hopes of a new life in the United States. A local pastor has been ministering to the camp residents and distributing World Vision supplies, including tents, tarps, blankets, hygiene kits, diapers, food kits, and more.

World Vision’s award-winning photographers travel the world to bring home stories of children and their families to inspire us to action and compassion. They capture those intimate moments that illuminate God’s grace and faithfulness as we follow Jesus’ example to show unconditional love to the poor and oppressed.

Discover what’s it like behind the scenes during some of these moments, published biannually in this year’s issues of World Vision magazine.

Two-year-old Arleth ventures away from the safety of her mother's mattress to play with some toys in the shelter.
Two-year-old Arleth ventures away from the safety of her mother’s mattress to play with some toys in the shelter. (©2020 World Vision/photo by Andrea Peer)

Written and photographed by Andrea Peer

Nikon D750

24-70mm lens, 1/160 at f/3.2, ISO 5000

*     *     *

Behind a low wall of suitcases, two little eyes peer at me. We smile at each other and begin a language-transcending game of giggles and peek-a-boo. Her mom, Maria, tells me this 2-year-old’s name is Arleth. Cautiously leaving the safety of her mother’s mattress, Arleth leads me in a game of show and tell. She hugs a toy truck, shows me somebody’s shoes, climbs on a toy car, and scoots a short distance back and forth, sometimes pausing to stare. I bump up my camera’s ISO, captivated by the juxtaposition of this sweet face and her peculiar context — a community center turned shelter near the Mexico side of the U.S. border, where World Vision has provided relief supplies.

With 50 other people crammed in here, they awaited court dates and visas to enter the United States for more than a year, a process made harder because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I learn that two months earlier, a Mexican cartel brutally killed Arleth’s father and three other family members. Maria received death threats herself, so she, Arleth, and several family members fled their picturesque home, jobs, and harvest-ready crops in Guerrero, Mexico. They haven’t felt safe here either; it’s too close to the cartel. So, for now, Arleth plays inside. I’m grateful for a moment to join her.

Read more stories from World Vision photographers in our life frames series.

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