Sunday, 2 October 2011

Photographing Death and Hope in Somalia

Note: This blog entry was originally published here on globeandmail.com 

Stepping off the aircraft in Mogadishu, Somalia, I recognized the wall of oppressive heat that I’d first felt there in 2006. This time I was there to work with The Globe and Mail’s Africa correspondent Geoffrey York, and the situation would be dramatically different from each of our own previous experiences there.

Every assignment I’ve ever accepted that involves some level of risk has always been accompanied by a series of emotions. Packing and waiting to get on with the job is an anxious time. I find foreign assignments to be more difficult as my children grow older. Now teenagers, their understanding of the world and the places I am sometimes asked to work in adds to their own anxiety. As hard as it used to be to leave behind two small children, I found it more difficult knowing how worried they were while I was away this time. Unfolding events in Mogadishu didn’t make this any easier to deal with.

As I passed through security at Pearson airport, I received sad news from Geoff that a Malaysian cameraman had just been killed in Mogadishu. At the time details were sketchy, but it was still a very blunt reminder of the place I was about to visit and the need for constant vigilance. I hoped my teenagers wouldn’t see that report in the news.