Visual Narratives of Hope: Exploring the Power of Humanitarian Photography
17 August 2023
On World Humanitarian Day, Derrick reflects on how using the power of photography depicts resilience and gives hope to the incredible works of humanitarians.
Documenting the untold stories of people is a passion I have had since childhood. As a humanitarian photographer and Communications Associate at the World Food Programme (WFP), I put my passion to work. I capture moments of hope and resilience, rather than despair; through the lens of my camera, telling success stories of innovation, growth from small beginnings, hope and social cohesion in the face of food insecurity.
Ghana is a beautiful place and nearly all the machineries are in place to keep the pace of development towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 2 on Zero Hunger. Unfortunately, 1.5 million people in Ghana, or 4.5% of the population, struggle to regularly access nutritious food, according to Cadre Harmonisé (March 2023). With my camera in hand, I embark on missions to document the untold stories of those most affected. With every click of my shutter, I strive to ignite optimism and inspire empathy in the people on the other side of the lens and those who see the work of the WFP.
My work brings me closer to the people we serve. I take the time to understand their struggles and dreams, immersing myself in their lives and literally wearing their shoes. Through this process, I gain a deep appreciation of the work of WFP, the largest humanitarian organization in the world. Our work goes above and beyond, navigating challenging terrain and difficult circumstances to provide sustainable solutions that change lives.
A gaze into the distance assures me of hope as I travel down untarred roads, past mud houses and stretches of farmlands, to meet families whose hope has been restored by the organization. Their resilience becomes my inspiration, fueling my determination to capture, with a click, their stories with authenticity and respect.
"I want to take a picture with him; he makes me look good in his camera," said Barakisu, a beneficiary of the WFP Nutrition and Livelihoods Project in Northern Ghana. Her request touched me deeply, reminding me of the power of capturing memories. Even though Barakisu and I may never meet again, I was grateful to have touched her heart.
"Wow! There is still work to be done to improve the school feeding programme, but the children’s eyes in this picture are filled with warmth and joy," my supervisor exclaimed as she scans through some of the pictures I had brought from the field. This feedback reaffirmed my commitment to keep capturing hope, rather than misery and fear.
Believe me, when I say my photographs are not simply archival material; they serve to remind me of how impactful humanitarian work can be. Each image depicts hope and showcases interventions that transcend boundaries, thus bringing people from all walks of life together.
By ensuring that every action promotes optimism, we can communicate hope instead of despair. Together, let's inspire the world with stories of resilience, unity, and the unwavering spirit of humanity.
I am Derrick Botchway, former Communications Associate with the World Food Programme, Ghana.
My story is that of hope; that people matter and that we can achieve Zero Hunger.