From the Field

2021 life frames: Storytelling from World Vision photographers

A Kenyan boy leans against a red wall and smiles at the camera.

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.

Sofia’s face shines with love as she reads the Bible to her grandson, Collins.
Sofia’s face shines with love as she reads the Bible to her grandson, Collins. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)

Beyond presents

Written and photographed by Laura Reinhardt

Nikon D750

24-70mm lens, 1/160 at f/6.3, ISO 1600

*     *     *

I was looking through photos from a trip to Mwala, Kenya, a rural community about two hours east of Nairobi, and this picture of Sofia and her grandson, Collins, gave me pause.

Collins is a busy boy — always on the go. But when Sofia’s well-worn Bible comes out, everything stops. Only the white curtains flutter in the breeze. Collins sits, listening with his whole being. Sofia reads, her face beaming.

The scene tugs at my memory. It feels familiar, and yet how?

Then it strikes me.

Every year during Advent, my parents would read to my brother and me. It was always the story of Mary and Joseph, their long journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, and their baby whose first bed was a manger.

I think my mom and dad — like so many parents — wanted to remind us of the season’s deeper meaning. Beyond presents, pretty lights, and Christmas trees. That story captivated us.

Looking back, this time also represented a moment when my whole family put aside life’s busyness and stress. My brother and I stopped playing, fidgeting, and fighting.

When the Bible appeared, peace prevailed.

Now, decades later, I witness that same peace in this Kenyan home. I feel the connection between Collins and Sofia.

And I give thanks to God for using this photo to transport me back to those long-ago Christmases and to feel the connection that binds us.

This Christmas, may the same peace be with you.

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)

The extreme quarantine

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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