I took some amazing photos yesterday.
No one will ever see them.
We went to a hospital where we were giving blankets, milk and drinking water to people who had escaped to the Pibor region, where most of the fighting is occurring.
I saw a nine month old baby and a one year old boy who had been orphaned. The young boy had a machete wound down the centre of his skull. The two nurses looking after them had called them Peter and Paul, and as I took photos of Peter, the baby, he looked at me and smiled.
In the grounds of the hospital were a number of family groups. I took a beautiful photograph of a mother and her child. When I turned around, two men were yelling at me.
They asked me who I had given me permission to take photos. But I followed the standard procedure when I arrived at the hospital and asked my colleagues who we should ask for permission to photograph. They said that they had visited a number of times before and there was no need to ask for permission.
The Medical Superintendent took our group to his office where he demanded that I delete the photos or he would confiscate my camera and deport me. I understood how journalists must feel all too often and, after a failed negotiation, deleted the images.
A part of me sympathised with the superintendent. I would expect to have formal permission to take photos in any other country in the world and I asked for permission from the nurses on the ward before I lifted my lens. Like him, I have a distrust of journalists; having had my trust in them betrayed a number of times.
But at the same time, it upsets me that the world will never see into Peter’s eyes. No matter how many words I use, nothing comes close to the feeling of heartbreaking irony that was captured in his smile.
There are so many obstacles to telling the stories of the 99%; editors’ bias towards guns and bombs, how far you have to travel for the material, internet bandwidth and donor fatigue.
Yet I find myself behaving militantly, determined to get the story at all costs. And the thing is, I’m not here trying to prove anything. I’m not in it for the adrenalin. I genuinely believe in our ability to empathise and our need to help.