Photoshelter blog

The fine people at Photoshelter (which hosts my archive) have an interesting discussion at the moment called Getting Photographers and Non Profits together that mentions my work in Lebanon via

It’s always good to feel that you may have contributed something positive…

Stuart Freedman Photographs the work Handicap International to affect Lebanese Policy Change

“Handicap International prides itself on having collaborated with Stuart Freedman on several occasions, the last one to date being his reportage in south Lebanon in 2007 that resulted in a book and an exhibition, both titled ‘Clearing for Peace’. We have granted Stuart Freedman permission to use freely the outcome of this collaboration, hoping that this fantastic body of work receives as much recognition as possible.

Stuart Freedman’s photographic work about the cluster munition issue in south Lebanon has been instrumental for us to lobby decision-makers, diplomats and governmental authorities so that they decide to ban these weapons. The exhibition has traveled to major cities of the world, when and where international negotiations on cluster munitions took place. On such occasions, the book was also distributed to the people involved in the discussions and to media representatives. This series of international conferences came to a conclusion in Oslo on 3 December 2008, when an international treaty banning cluster munitions was signed.”

Sylvain Ogier
External communications Manager
Handicap International

Here are a few images from the set:

Lebanon - Basouriah - Operatives Mohammed Zayat, Mohammed Swaidai and Ali Nini dress in their protective armour and prepare to search for cluster bombs in the Bourj el Shmali area (CBU 144), Southern Lebanon. The area was heavily contaminated with unexploded ordnance after the Lebanon-Israeli war in 2006 - especially with Cluster bombs.

Lebanon - Maaraki - Rusha Zayoun, 17 who lost her leg to a cluster bomb when her father brought it inside the house and it exploded. She has not been to school since and is very shy. Her father, Mohammed Ali Zayoun, 50, has just returned from working as a labourer.

Lebanon - Basouriah - Operators searching for cluster munitions tape off a 'safe line' area
Lebanon - Basouriah - Operatives Ali Tahini and Haitham Mustafa pray at the Control Point
Lebanon - Basouriah - Ernst Worst, 49, a Technical Advisor from South Africa, photographed in his Control Point, CBU 40

Unseen but not forgotten…

Last month saw the release of Unseen a new collaborative project by the British Press Photographers Association (BPPA). So many images are commissioned editorially and never used and this project sought to showcase some of that work. I have a few spreads inside as well as the cover of which I’m very proud.

Ibrahim was amputated in Freetown in 1999 when the rebels occupied the Waterloo area. They tried to hack off his other hand but were unable to

The image shows Ibrahim who had his right arm hacked off by rebels from the RUF (Revolutionary United Front).
Despite the Guardian Magazine running the story, the image above was never published. It did however get some recognition at Pictures of the Year (POY) in America.

I remember when I took the assignment, I was very apprehensive. I’d made quite a lot of work in Sierra Leone for a project on young men and violence called The Lord of the Flies (largely an attempt to partially refute Robert Kaplan’s arguments) and had returned subsequently to look at the immediate effects of the mutilations. In the intervening years it seemed that the amputees had become part of a grotesque circus of photographers coming in, ‘doing the atrocity tour’ and leaving; I honestly didn’t know what I could really add to the story. Still, the job was to produce a big exhibition for Handicap International and I had no editorial constraints.

I tried very hard to just photograph the amputees as they were – the fact that they’d been brutalised, an aside on everyday life. In one of those rare moments that make doing this work extraordinary, I turned a corner in a village in Makeni and came face to face with Hassan Fufona. Hassan had polio as a child and the rebels cut off his one good arm. I’d spent days with him in Freetown in 1999 watching him beg, being fed and returning to a hut where he lived with his ageing parents and small brother. A haunted, gaunt boy. Now newly married with two adopted war orphan children in a new town he was transformed. I photographed him in bed with his wife giggling as she put on his prosthetic harness and I photographed him as the head of a family outside his new house. Now, I don’t make any claims to have changed much with photography or in fact to have done much to make the world a better place but meeting Hassan again certainly changed me a little. Sometimes you can’t see the small victories in Africa but they are there. You just have to know where to look.

Hassan Fofona begs outside the Post office
Hassan Fofona begs outside the Post office
Hassan straps on his artificial arm
Hassan straps on his artificial arm
Hassan Fufona and his family outside their resettlement house
Hassan Fufona and his family outside their resettlement house

We are the miracles that God made
To taste the bitter fruit of Time.
We are precious.
And one day our suffering
Will turn into the wonders of the earth

from Ben Okri’s ‘An African Elegy’