An exhibition opening today at the Bophana Centre aims to counteract negative perceptions of aid workers.
In the Intimacy of Humanitarian Action, which features photography and poetry pairings, is the brainchild of AEC-Foyer Lataste, a child protection and development organisation.
The project started three years ago as a collaboration between project director Anais Gallo and aid worker Julie Sartre, who both encountered negative reactions from people who learned they worked for NGOs.
“Usually when we spoke with people they’d say, ‘You work in Africa, what do you do? Big NGOs sometimes do really bad stuff. You just go and you don’t take care of people. You do a lot of things and then leave, so there’s no point’,” Gallo said.
Gallo decided to take pictures that show the reality of aid work, while Sartre wrote the words that tie the images together.
“We want to show people that working for an NGO – especially a local NGO when your work is your life – it’s not office style where you go to work and you come back to your real life – it’s every day, seven days [a week],” Gallo said.
“We are living with the people, we are cooking with them.”
The poems are presented in Khmer, English, French and Japanese and the photographs capture scenes from Cambodia, India and Madagascar, among others.
In the Intimacy of Humanitarian Action will also be exhibited in Siem Reap from December 12 to 31 and in Battambang in January 2015.
Exhibition opening at Bophana Centre, #64 street 200. Saturday 22 November, 4.30pm.