It is a tough challenge to be ambassadors of hope in our society today. It’s hard, not only because of the obvious political, economic and social obscurities that we are bombarded with daily but also because the reality of the times we face, overwhelms and confuses us.
As humans, we tend to focus on the facts that make hope disappear. To survive the next negative blow, we go into survival mode and hope becomes a topic that we rarely allow ourselves to think about. We either take it for granted, not even knowing that we are feeding on it, or we have become part of the hopelessness of life. Giving up that “thing” that made life worth it to wake up to in the morning.
I’ve read and discussed many opinions, judgements and religious views on what hope should be. However, when you allow yourself to search deeper, the very thought of hope creates a vast array of feelings and questions. Is hope only for the religious, oblivious or the childish? If I am hopeful, what will it help me? How do I get hope? Am I allowed to hold on to it when I found it? How do I spread or share hope? What is it to me? For me, hope lies in the potential that is unleashed out of a courageous act to hold onto something bigger than ourselves. I feel it in the honest warm hug of my children. I smell it in the drought-stricken land after a few drops of rain. I hear it in the courageous “I am ok” of a friend fighting her battle against breast cancer. I taste it in my thankful tears for strangers supporting my parents.
Mostly, however, I see it through my lens.
As a photographer, my conclusion is that hope manifests through people. Their actions, reactions and the special moments exposed in the smallest act of kindness. The quick eye contact displaying courage. Asking without words, if you are okay. The small press of a hand on the shoulder, saying “I care for you”. A smile to strangers – convincing them you’ve noticed them, the collective effort of a community to support each other through a crisis. Empathy, and action after you’ve heard the story. The comfort of a loved one close to you and forgiveness after an offense. When people practice kindness, the world is a better place. That gives me enormous hope. The power to have it, create it or share it, lies in each of us, and the more hope you get, the more you DO which in return will spread to others.
SPES (being the Latin word for hope) brings hope to thousands of families in our community. Not once during the last 10 years have I driven away from their projects or after meeting with their people without feeling, seeing, tasting, experiencing or hearing it. They work rigorously to spread hope and make it come alive for a community that could be described as hopeless. Therefore I am proud to show you around our exhibition today. May this collection inspire you and remind you that the world can be better when we all practice hope.
“Feature published in the Fly Westair Magazine in March 2020 after my exhibition: Hope, a colourful collection.”