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Han, Friend of War Child and photographer


“Being a photographer I have seen many countries where war had a devastating effect on humans. The impact it has on children is indescribable. And unacceptable. I met a girl who had experienced the horrors of the Rwanda genocide. I experienced how children in South-Africa were raised with the notion that other children are of less value. In the eyes of orphans I saw what void was left after the death of parents.

Many children are not able to express their feelings, because of their experiences in war. The photo camera is a very powerful weapon. It gives children the freedom to show what they think, without having to express it in words. It makes them proud “wow, I have made that picture”, it creates self confi dence and mutual understanding.

In a photography project I organised in South-Africa, I saw how children from various backgrounds explain how they live. Very different from what was common in the divided South Africa; we did not see a single shot on racial differences, nothing on being rich or poor. They just showed each other their worlds, and it opened their eyes.

Children who were withdrawn opened up and learned to express themselves with words. Because they had learned to do that with the images they made. One father came up to me after the project. Totally overjoyed he said: “You have changed my son.” I replied: “No, your son has changed himself”.

The empowerment of children is what appeals to me in the work of War Child. Children themselves take up their challenges, they show themselves what the war has done to them and what should change. They discover what opportunities life still has. And how to seize these and to make the most out of it.”

Photographer Han Lans supports War Child with a monthly donation.