A human touch in the face of Ebola

In many of the photographs taken by Victor Lacken during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in 2014 and 2015, the faces of his subjects are obscured by masks and goggles, their bodies covered head-to-toe in protective gear. Despite this protective gear, which obscures even the slightest facial expression, Lacken’s photographs were able to capture a sense of the humanity of the person within: the sense of strain and fatigue under the sweltering outfits, the pride and defiance showing through, despite the stigmas associated with the work. Late last year, Lacken received the AidEx Photojournalism Award for photos taken over four months with members of the Liberian Red Cross Society’s Safe and Dignified Burials team. The photos tell a story of personal courage and of the absolute necessity of a locally based humanitarian response, backed by international solidarity.

A Liberian Red Cross Society Safe and Dignified Burials team removes a body from a house in Freetown, Liberia. For the photographer, Victor Lacken, the photo is about anticipation. “I cased the building,” he says. “I knew where they were going to come out. What I didn’t know was that a curious neighbour would be watching from above.”

Once inside their protective clothing, only their eyes are visible. Here, a member of a Safe and Dignified Burials team gets suited up with help from a fellow team member.

“I captured this photo of two burial team members as they walked to pray for someone who had died during the Ebola outbreak,” says photographer Victor Lacken. “At a time when people were not allowed to touch, this was the safest way to do so.”

“When I take a photo I am constantly moving to find that best angle, such as the reflection in the water in this photo,” says Lacken.


What happens when machines can decide who to kill?

It’s the stuff of science fiction: machines that make decisions about who and when to kill. Referred to as “autonomous weapons”, they’re already in use to some degree. But as more sophisticated systems are being developed we wanted to an expert in the field about whether such systems comply with international humanitarian law and what it means for humanity to give machines the power over human life and death.

‘Wildfire diaries’ and radical change in communications

In this episode, we talk with humanitarian communicator Kathy Mueller who produced our first magazine podcast series, The Wildfire Diaries, about massive wildfires in Northern Canada in 2017. We talk about that series, her many international missions, and the big changes in humanitarian communications since she began with the Canadian Red Cross almost 20 years ago.

The power of storytelling

In this episode, we talk about the power of storytelling to inform and inspire. “Storytelling is a fundamental aspect of human communication,” says our guest Prodip, a volunteer and multi-media storyteller for the Bangladesh Red Crescent. “It inspires us to be a hero of our own community.” We also speak with one such community hero, Dalal al-Taji, a longtime volunteer and advocate for inclusion of people with disabilities in emergencies response. “In disasters. persons with disabilities sometimes get forgotten.”

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