We invite you to read, enjoy, and learn from the photos that Elon students have submitted to the 2013 Human Rights and Social Justice Writing Contest.
If you are an Elon student, we encourage you to join the conversation by submitting your own entry.
This little boy’s shirt read “Jesus takes our Junk.” He had no idea what it meant until we explained the message by sharing our testimonies and faith. Touched, he later sat down with us and asked that we pray for him and his family. “Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day? Can a nation be brought forth in a moment?” – Isaiah66: 8 One Nation One Day was a Christian movement that targeted Honduras, one of the most violent and dangerous countries in Central America.
This is a one of the photos I took for my social segregation photography project while I was in Seville, Spain. Soon after I arrived in Spain, I began to see first hand the severe economic crisis. Professionals that had stable jobs their whole lives were laid off and were forced into the streets with no opportunity for future employment.People that had a comfortable lifestyle had become extremely precautious with spending.
I took this photo on June 12, 2013, at the entrance to the Dachau Concentration Camp in Dachau, Germany. The Holocaust is one of the most prominent examples of horrendous human rights violations through the genocide of millions of innocent people.
Dachau was the first concentration camp that began forcibly displacing thousands of people. On June 12, 2013, I decided to visit the place where the idea of concentration camps began.
Pictured above, two Nicaraguan children play hide-and-seek in the small village of Papayal, Nicaragua. The photo on the left is the original, while the photo on the right is edited to add effect. I took this photo in February of 2010 during my first mission trip to Nicaragua. Children are easy to connect with regardless of any sort of language barrier, but something it took longer for me to realize was the importance of education in their lives.
This photograph was taken in an abandoned prison on Con Dao Island in Vietnam. This island is infamous for its severe prison facilities and tiger cages.
While studying abroad in Nepal, I conducted research on women's development through the fair trade craft industry. Spending time in Pokhara, I worked with the Women Skill Development Organization (WSDO). This organization is a fair trade certified group of about 200 women, working in fair conditions. My research asked whether or not the fair trade certification actually provides fair conditions for those involved.
Often when we see images related to human rights, we see the absence of human rights—of atrocity, of body mutilations, of famine and hunger—to represent the need for human rights. Consequently, there is a potential for the exploitation of the subjects. While these ethical considerations are my biggest concern whenever I want to take photos of others, I believe in the overall power of human rights documentation because it is actionable and meaningful in that the act of re-presenting the narratives can create change by shifting the way we perceive our reality.
The power to change comes from within, that inherent passion that bubbles from the pit of one’s stomach. This passion in each individual is either facilitated or hindered by the world. If this passion is supported, the addition of the power of positivity can change a nation.
In America we have a hard time noticing anything beyond the “XL” when we see this tag. It is easy to find shame in our size, instead of worry about the origination of the shirt that the size is attached to. We’ve all seen a million of these, and they’re almost irritating, itching the back of your neck. Tags never seem significant for anything except maybe the washing machine instructions and a designer’s name.
This was a photo I took in a squatter camp named Diepsloot in South Africa. Estimates guess that 250,000 people live in the 2.5 miles that make up Diepsloot. The inhabitants live in makeshift shacks without electricity or running water. The mansions that lie just across the street make this poverty even more apparent.
This photo was taken in Florence, Italy in June of 2010. Although it may look like a pretty parade, this photo captures quite a significant event. This was soon after another major economic downturn took place in Italy; in response, some people decided to take to the streets and demand a new political system by peacefully demonstrating for Communism to return to Italy.