wordly images

will to power

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 31, 2009
climb every mountain

climb every mountain

I just watched the most incredible documentary that was truly beautiful and inspirational. It was called Blindsight.

It begins with the story of Eric Weihenmayar who became totally blind at the age of 15, whilst at the same time trying to come to terms with the loss of his mother who had been killed. Now, I think that would be more than enough to tip an adult over the edge – let a lone a 15 year old boy! However, Eric was determined not to let his blindness (and pain) rule his life. So, he set out to live his life as any fully sighted person would  – in fact he achieved, in a relatively short space of time, more than a fully-sighted person would in a life time: he was the first blind man in history to climb Mount Everest (thats 29,035 feet high!) and went on to become a ‘World Class Blind Adventurer’.

Inspirational is not the word and I will apologise now for the amount of times that this word may well be used in this post!

The next equally inspirational person to appear in the film was Sabriye Tenberken who, also blind, rode on horse back at the age of 26 rode through the Himalayas, with a local Tibetan woman, to find blind children so that she could open the first blind school in Lhasa for these children (Braille Without Borders).

Historically, blind children (people) in this remote area of the world are so completely and utter shunned – they are treated like lepers and seen as bad luck to the communities that they live in. It is believed that blindness is karmic: the child is thought to have been a ‘very bad/evil person’ in a previous incarnation. Not the kind of karma anyone would wish for! These children are spat on and pushed aside in the streets. Infact, the introduction to two of the young children in the film is of them walking down a street in Lhasa when they accidentally bump into an old woman who then begins to scream and curse them, telling them that they “deserve to eat their fathers corpse”!!!

Not only do they have to deal with verbal and physical abuse on the street but many of them also endure the same at home (such as being told to their face that they would be better off dead!) and some are even be sold into begging at a very early age, never to see their families again. And, this is not always to do with the fact that their families don’t love them but more to do with the ingrained ignorance  of not understanding that these children are exactly the same as any other fully-sighted child.

I think by this point in the movie, I had already cried 3 times and it would prove to definitely not be the last. However, my pity and sadness soon turned to complete and utter admiration and awe at all the blind people involved in this movie. And, i hope thos does not come across as patronising, but it was not just because of what they achieved because they were blind but also because of their determination, proudness and lack of self-pity.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (and to not spoil it for those of you who have not seen it), a group of blind children climb the 23,000 ft Lhakpa Ri, on the North side of Mount Everest. This has to be the most motivating, thought-provoking films that I have ever seen. This is a no-holds barred, fly-on-the-wall documentary that will leave you with a sense of whatever shit you may be going through in your life, then take a que from these amazing adults and children.

Thinking about what one of the guides said about how Easteners never even thought about climbing the highest mountains before Westerners came along and wanted to do it…….simply because they never felt the need to prove anything to themselves by this. So what is it about us, as Westerners, that we feel this compulsion to stand on the ‘roof of the world’ – that we always need to strive to achieve something/anything, to make us feel in some way complete?

Ok, one might argue that its all relative………….hmmmmmmmm………….I wonder if we can even begin to compare our Western needs, desires etc with those of a young blind child in Tibet’s needs and desires?

And, to paraphrase Sabriye Tenberken “its not about reaching the top of the mountain…….as these children have already climbed every mountain to get to where they are today…..”

Rent this movie today and I can guarantee that it will leave a little nugget of hope in every one of us out there, struggling to find some clarity and, dare I even use the word again, inspiration in our lives.

Dedicated to my struggling friend, PC.

PS watch out for the ‘Ice Palace’ scene at the end …….a place that is beautiful in its simplicity to bring such joy and happiness to those who enter it

Hellyjphotos.2008.Montauk, Long Island, NY State

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Childhood Interrupted

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 26, 2009
10,000 Ethiopian children on the streets........

100,000 Ethiopian children on the streets.......

Childhood Interrupted – Jason Florio

To bring to light the extreme hardships of the estimated 100,000 children that live on and under the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Many children are victims of child trafficking and family abuse and were forced to escape to the street.

Three years ago I was photographing in Addis Ababa the capital of Ethiopia and I met a young boy called Bruke who had runaway from a small village because of an alcoholic and physically abusive father and a step mother that did not want him. Bruke, when I found him was living with his friend Oromo in a small concrete hole that was 3 x 4 x 5 ft in size that was in the median of a very busy road. He was surviving, like so many of the street children there off left over plate scraps from restaurants. Through an outreach center that tries to help the estimated 100,000 plus street children that live in the Mercato market area of Addis I was also able to talk to many other children like Bruke who had escaped not just abusive families but were victims of child trafficking and prostitution. My dream assignment would be to return to Addis and make a detailed photo essay with audio interviews with the children that would bring to light the horrors of child trafficking and the extreme dangers that these young children face everyday on the streets. The ultimate dream would be to use part of the money to find Bruke and help him establish a life off the streets. If I cannot find him then I will donate part of the money to the Forum on Street Children, an NGO that helps rescue children from the hardships life on the streets of the Mercato area.

Work in progress……………

jason florio photo. 2006.copyright – Bruke, Ethiopian street boy, 13 years (approx)

http://www.floriophoto.com

Photo: Jason Florio http://www.floriophoto.com

forgotten history…….

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 26, 2009
rushing ahead.........

rushing ahead.........

Past

by Lloyd Klumpp

Water under the bridge,

Flow away to be forgotten.

Water standing still below,

Stagnant, muddy bottom.

Water from the sky above,
Swiftly cleansing stream.

Water under the bridge,
Time again to dream.

hellyjphoto.2008.copyright  – The Hudson River (Westside Highway), NYC

another way in…….

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 13, 2009

(hellyjphotos.2008.copyright)  Dallas, TX
another way in.........

ups and downs…..

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 13, 2009

hellyjphoto.2009.copyright – Greenwich Village, NYC

Obstacles

a way out?

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 10, 2009

a way out?

(hellyjphotos.2009.copyright) SoHo, NYC

the wisdom within….

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 2, 2009

‘Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the out from pole to pole,
I thank whatever Gods may be
For my unconquerable soul……..stillness
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.’

William Ernest Henley

stillness

The Hudson Valley, Upstate NY, 2008  (hellyjphotos.2009.copyright)

just puttin’ it out there…….

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 1, 2009
will peace ever be possible?

will peace ever be possible?

I guess we need to start with our immediate environments?

As long as we continue to invade other countries, then how can there ever be peace?

How can it be if there is only one ‘god’ that we fight so to prove that our particular ‘god’ is the ‘One’?

Innocent, naive, idealistic questions?

Afghanistan came up last night during a ride back to the city from New Jersey with some friends. F was talking about being struck with how young a lot of the military guys are when he was last out there. They basically come out of school with little or no qualifications and sign up (just what the forces like – all the better to mould them perhaps?) for, initially, the next 5-7 years. For many, especially now so, their first tour of duty is very likely to be thrown into a real live war zone which I am sure no amount of training can prepare them for(?). Apart from a veiled attempt at getting to know the local culture of the people they are meant to be ‘defending’ (que Human Terraine Programmes), there seems to be little or no interest in learning about who those people really are, what their country or religion etc is about. Does that not seem odd? I know that wherever I choose to travel, I want to know as much as I can. Ok, I understand that these men and women do not get to choose (and would never in a million years choose to be where they are sent!) where it is they are going to be holed up for for the next 3-4 months, –  i.e. Afghanistan – and they are seen as the enemy after all. But, how can peace ever be obtained if we don’t even attempt to understand the culture that you are surrounded by and apprently trying to defend? We go in, gung-ho, with our big size 11’s, and dictate how it should be is why because, surely, we know better – coming from a (very) relative democracy?

I was watching a doc a few weeks ago (I think called ‘A Soldiers Story’ – check it out on BBC iPlayer) about a young soldier in the British Army who wa son his 3rd tour of duty in Afghanistan. He signed up when he was 17 years old and got deployed as soon as he was 18 to the Middle East. For someone so young (he was 23 by the time the doc came out), he kind of stood out amongst his peers there because he really did try to learn about the Afghani people, the language, their religion and so on. He was liked by the locals because of this, you could see it. He was also constantly out there, up front, in the line of fire, ‘doing his job’ – like some hero from Hamburger Hill or something. And all for £19k a year!?! (what????) It wasn’t unusual for his company, or others too I’m sure, to be on foot patrol for 80 days straight (yes, thats bordering on 3 months!), being fired at every single day of those 80 days and,in the meantime, trying to teach the Afghan soldiers how to be soldiers too! Then they would be lucky if they got a week off before they had to go back out there. So, it was little wonder to all of us watching this doc that when he did get leave back home, he ended up being arrested time and time again for assaulting civilians in bars, defending what he did, when he was goaded again and again about being a soldier boy. He was on constant guard. How could he switch off from being this ‘mean clean fighting machine’?

How can any of us ever understand what it is like to be in the kind of situations that these young men and women are in every day, over and over again, not knowing if the old guy pulling the donkey and cart in a little village West of Halmand was not the one that had just been shooting and trying to kill you 5 minutes previously?!

I know I’m kind of meandering all over the place abit here, but it does all seem to be a wee bit of a mess, this trying to find peace malarky, especially when we all seem to have our own way of impressing it upon countries around the world (let alone in our own neighbourhoods!).

So, will peace ever be achievable? More to come on this posting for sure……..

W Houston St, NYC, 2009 (hellyjphotos.2009.copyright)