Lives are substantially shaped by when and where people are born. For many life is hard. The causes are varied. Nature and climate though, can affect all of us, wherever we live.
I have put together a collection taken over the years that simply show the hardships endured by ordinary people.
Disaster: Earthquakes & more
Click on photographs to enlarge.
Poverty – Wash day, Nile River
Rivers and lakes the world over are still used, nearly always by women, on Wash Day.
This photo was taken just south of Cairo in 2015.
Across the developing you can seeing incredible, neccessity driven, improvisation.
The auto rickshaw fulfils many functions in Asia.
This photograph was taken in Jaipur, India in 2019
Aging – Moscow 1984
An old lady makes her way through the winter snow in Moscow. Deep still in Soviet Union times this photograph was taken shortly after the downing of the Korean 007 747 aircraft causing the USSR to be boycotted for a while. I happened to be booked to go during the first week of flight resumption to Moscow.
Nationalism: on display- Seoul, Korea.
On a trip to Seoul in 2014 I walked out the hotel to see police and tanks blocking the streets. My Korean associated arrived, out of breath, eventually, to explain that President Park had called for an impromptu military parade.
Mrs Park was impeached for bribery and corruption in 2017 and went to prison.
Road Traffic Accidents (RTA’s): in Africa
RTA’s are the lesser known killer especially in Sub Saharan Africa. Doctors rank its impact alongside malaria.
Road traffic deaths in high-income countries average 8.3 deaths per 100,000 people, in low-income countries the average is 27.5 deaths per 100,000
This photo was taken on the Freetown to Bo road in Sierra Leone.
Prejudice and Anger, Dessau, Germany 2016
I heard singing and music as I exited Dessau Station in former East Germany. Oh, lucky me, a parade I thought!
The man at Reception suggested I avoid the town today though.
Turned out to be the annual Dessau Neo Nazi Meeting. Sure enough the town was soon taken over my noisy angry young men and an equal number of heavily armed Police.
War: Hiroshima and the epicenter of the Atomic Bomb in 1945
It is difficult to comprehend when you visit The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park today, that 80,000 people were killed immediately and many, many more over the following years, such is the peaceful nature of the place
Division: The Sinai Egypt
Photograph taken entering the tunnel that goes under the Suez Canal in (2012) and then leads you into The Sinai. The Sinai is a much fought over region and its inhabitants often the victims of prejudice, war and terror.
Nature: Cyclone damage in Taipei
Whilst visiting Taipei in 2017 a friend insisted on taking us to the location of Mail Boxes simply bent over by the sheer force of the wind during a cyclone, which the island of Taiwan endures every so often. Pretty remarkable damage!
Taken in 2011, a few months after the Egyptian, Arab Spring Uprising, this photograph shows the grand Egyptian Museum in the foreground and a burned out Government Building behind.
It was a strange time to visit. Few visitors and local Egyptians delighted to welcome us and explain their story.
The Trabant was the affordable option for many in Eastern Europe during the Cold War era. Small, cheap, slow, polluting – it did not seem to have much going for it, but it was more acheivable for many. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, suddenly these small machines could seen trundling along West Germany’s high speed Autobahns!
This well kept antique was snapped in 2018 in Dresden doing great service still.
This sign was on the side of the Post Office in Maplewood, New Jersey for many years until the Post Office was demolished around 2017. For decades several generations were trained as to what to do and where to go in the event of nuclear attack. Quite how effective the shelter in a Post Office would have been I have mused about !
I visited the town of Hope, Arkansas where President Bill Clinton was born and his home can be seen. A town where the heavy freight trains pass through, the town of Hope seemed very inadaptly named as it was clearly a sad shadow of that it once had been. In fact it epitomized the problems of rural decline and depopulation.
Viewed from Amtrak’s Empire Builder in April 2022 I began to appreciate the vastness of northern Montana. Farms, seemingly miles and an endless drive from schools, shops, friends, church, periodically came into view. Whilst beautiful and vast it must be a hard and at times isolated life. People who seek community and other work have little choice but to leave.
Nature: Floods Drought, Fires, Plague and the Australian Open Tennis
On the approach into Melbourne in January 2020 I could see the smoke from the vast fires consuming much of Australia in that summer down under. The next day was warm and sunny and ( by planned ‘sheer chance’) I had arranged a meeting on the day the Australian Open started. Tickets were easy and cheap to come by for the evening session, so off I set. On the walk to the grounds this bit of Australia’s drought ended! Preceeded by hail that damaged cars, heavy rain and storms that followed. Despite the courts having roofs closed, play was stopped as water came in and had to be mopped up from the courts.
Whilst locusts did not follow, little did I know that Covid was about to bring the city of Melbourne to its knees a short while after I left.
Nature: (Or Man Made?)
During the Australian summer of 2019/20 parts of Australia were devastated by wild fires. Vast areas were destroyed.
This photograph was taken from a train heading into the Blue Mountains outside Sydney. The service was terminated short of its normal terminus. Towns were left isolated and deserted crippling the local economies.
In 1994 the Hutu majority attacked the Tutsi, ruling minority in Rwanda. Over a 3 month period around 800,000 Tutsi’s and some moderate Hutu’s were killed.
The early roots of the grievances are in the period when it was a Belgium colony as they favored the fairer skinned Tutsi minority and placed them in positions of authority.
I took this photograph in 2007 of the Kigali Genocide Memorial and a mass grave which overlooks the ciy of Kigali.
The decline of big industries such as coal mining, steel making etc across Europe and North America has led to social upheaval, political change, nationalism, depopulation and lots of dissatisatisfaction.
From America’s Rust Belt, across Northern England, Europe and especially eastern Europe the impacts have been harsh for many. This photograph, taken on a suitably misty March morning near Leipzig in the former East Germany, seemed to capture the dullness and depression that has so often been the result.
The perfect spot for a nap.
This photo was taken at a sowing center in Bo, Central Sierra Leone. The mother was working whilst the baby slept.
On January 12th 2010 a 7.0 earthquake devastated much of Haiti, including the capital Port Au Prince. The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere was utterly unequipped to deal with it. As many as 220,000 died.
I went in the October as a part .a team of 10. There were shortages of everything including workers. I worked on patching up an orphanage for a week. I’d packed some tarps in my bag and this one served as this little girls family home.
Between 2014 & 2016 there was an Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Not only were thousands sickened, many dying, but also the economic declines and global isoloation probably cost many more lives.
I went in 2016 just after the worst had finished. The scars of the Ebola outbreak though were everywhere. This was a camp, that had just been mothballed.
Sheer Hard Work
These ladies were breaking stone, by hand, for a road that was being built on the outskirts of Freetown, Sierra Leone. One of the ladies saw me take this photo from a distance and was very upset. My intent though was to show how tough life can be for many.
Around the developing world you will spot symbols of a period of colonization, which may have finished 50-60 years ago but the impact lingers, for better and mostly, worse.
The British telephone box, normally bright red in Britain, was spotted here in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Port Au Prince, Haiti 2010. The devastion, even 6 months after the January 2010 earthquake was absolutely immense. Most buildings of any size were damaged or destroyed.
I am not even sure what this buildings purpose was.
Of all the countries in the Western Hemisphere, the poverty sticken state of Haiti was, and still is, the least prepared of all.
On the 26th November 2008 the lengthy Mumbai Terrorist Attacks captured the attention of the world as the Indian troops sought to regain control of all of the city. Whilst the Taj Hotel was the most well known target, there were others, the Central Station, popular with travelers, the Leopold Cafe for example. I was staying at the Trident Hotel and spotted this memorial on a balcony.
Kampala, Uganda. A baby being held by my teenage daughter. The baby, called Kevin, was blind. I think this moment change my daughters life for ever.
The vast bulk of migrants have become such due to war, famine and economic hardship. People move to seek a better life. Of course some, like me, have migrated for work and variety. But I have the opportunity to travel back to the place of my birth.
This sign was in Melbourne Australia’s, Emmigration Museum and I was reminded again, that even today for most, migration is a one way ticket.
New Delhi , India. The location of the assassination of Mahatma Ghandi in January 1948. Today it is the grounds of an excellent museum.
From the 1960’s ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland was never off the BBC in Britain. I grew up with them. Later when working I can’t remember the number of times The London Tube, or offices were closed due to Bomb Scares. A few were more than just scares. Later I worked in Dublin, Rep. of Ireland where as a Brit’ one was always aware of the incidents, mostly north of the border.
Once whilst at a meeting in Northern Ireland, there was a loud bang. The IRA had, with notice apparently, blown up a small Post Office. No one was hurt. Helicopters and British Army personnel arrived in numbers.
In August 2022 I took an evening walk along the infamous Falls Rd. You can see the many memorials and murals and also the barriers, wire fencing and camera’s which are ominously still seemingly ever ready.
Maplewood, New Jersey. From March 2020 life changed for all of us as Covid hit.
During the summer, instead of going to the Pool in our town to swim, we went instead to the Pool Parking Area for Covid tests, as pictured here.
Pictured is a peaceful gathering and demonstration outside Cologne, Germany, rail station, by Kurds. A long standing source of conflict in the Middle East, many Kurds live in and around Germany. Pictured March 20218.
Before the war in the Ukraine started in 2022, I flew to Korea – routed via Warsaw. On leaving Warsaw I was fascinated to fly over the region I’d vaguely heard of called The Donbas. So I took a photograph of the map at the time.
Little did I realise that not that much later the prospect of Western aeroplanes flying over Russia, near that region of Ukraine, would become simply crazy.
The Twin Towers
On the morning of 11th September 2001 I hopped off the train as normal at Hoboken Station on the edge of the River Hudson. I looked up and see a ball of fire coming from one of the towers.
A few minutes later, along with horrified strangers I caught a glimpse of a low plane in the distance . It went straight into the other tower.
Knowing then, that our lives had changed I then witnessed both towers collapse from across the water.
I knew one victim from our local church. His name was Doug Cherry.
Natural or Manmade?
Freetown, Sierra Leone. In 2017 after torrential rain a massive mudslide wiped out an unknown number of lives and homes along a valley.
Trees had been cut down, no doubt for fuel and people had built houses in flood areas. Thats what happens in impoverished places. What is the choice?
This lady was the Matron of a girls boarding school in Moyamba, West Africa. I think she had to run a pretty strict ship! Despite poor equipment and aging infrastructure it was nevertheless, a home and a place to learn form many young girls.
Two of the many, many street children begging that is a curse in India. Outside Delhi 2017.
Nogales, Arizona. 2017 on the USA – Mexico border. Whatever the rights and wrongs of migration politics it is always sobering to see a great big metal fence go straight through a town dividing people and communities.
The end of the line. The place where a train could go from South Korea into North Korea, but does not and who knows when it will. The De Militarized Zone between the 2 countries is one of the most unspoilt natural habitats in the world now such are the borders.
Taken in 2005 the border fence on the South Korean side just contains signs and notices, many detailing separated families.
Port Au Prince, Haiti 2010. This photograph shows a passerby in front the the toppled Presidential Palace largely destroyed by the January 2010 earthquake centered there.
The Irish Sea and the Dublin to Holyhead Ferry September 2021.
For generations young Irish folk have sought work overseas, as until recent years the economy and job prospects were very, very poor. I lived in Dublin for a while in the late 1980’s and unemployment was at around 20% and population had steadily declined for years. The UK and London specifically, was always a big draw and for many leaving Ireland meant traveling on the Dublin to Holyhead Ferry, a 3 1/2 hour trip to the edge of Wales.