'Contexts' is a set of stills of environments, settings, and people I encountered since beginning my work abroad in June 2012. I feature humans, many of whom, I consider dear friends, colleagues, mentors and strangers. Most showcase the scenes and experiences I remember. A few attempt to capture my friends' wonderful idiosyncrasies, personalities, cultures, and traditions. Some lead to personal stories. Others remain ambiguous.
Regardless context, all of these stills were taken in cities and circumstances far removed from my Polish upbringing. I suspect, my attempt to capture these settings is rooted in a need to seek out, experience and connect to places unlike my own. This also constitutes a core component of my personal belief which champions human connection, compassion and creativity as drivers of positive change and innovation.
Despite this, my photographs are biased towards my own experience, focus and perspective. This contextualizes them within an extremely narrow sphere of applicability. For this reason, I've attached links to relevant resources and publications which provide more insightful, comprehensive and up date data from the ground. In this way, I wish to contextualize my experience within a broader framework. At its core, I want to use this space to celebrate the documentation of my work abroad in a coherent, reflective and resource-full manner.
"The ahupua’a embodies a unique relationship between the Hawaiian people and the land as well as the practical and rational approaches applied to insure the sustainability of the natural environment from overexploitation, pollution and extinction." (Blane & Chung, 2000: 289)
Algae are a diverse group of photosynthetic organisms. They're essential to the production of oxygen, and fundamental to the sustenance of aquatic food webs. Zooxanthellae algae in particular, lead to reef growth, and are reliable indicators of reef health. Since corals shelter 33% of known marine fish species, in year 2000, the Clinton administration enacted the creation of The Northwestern Hawaiian Island Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve. The Reserve designates 99,500 square nautical miles to the protection and sustenance of coral reef habitats, It is the largest conservation area in the United States,
Despite these measures, rising ocean temperatures enable the process of coral bleaching which expels essential algae that provide nourishment to coral tissues. This expulsion degrades the reef, reduces its biomass, and threatens the sustainability of the system. Since conservation in Hawai'i is a balancing act between responsible tourism, big business and tradition, the state of Hawai'i published its Coral Reef Strategy: Priorities for Management in the Main Hawaiian Islands, 2010-2020. The report outlines key management goals for the preservation of reef health, reduction of human-caused damage, and promotion of ecological function by year 2020. At the core of this strategy lies the principle of ahupua'a: A Traditional Hawaian Resource Managment Model For A Sustainable Coastal Environment.
"Although 50% of Cambodia’s minefields have now been cleared Cambodia is still one of the most landmine impacted countries in the world with over 64,000 casualties recorded since 1979 and over 25,000 amputees - the highest ratio per capita in the world." (2017: The Halo Trust)
According to UNDP, 2016 landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) remain a significant hindrance to Cambodia's National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP). Mine action remains a priority focus for Cambodia. A legacy of protracted military history continues to hinder the country's communities. The Buddhist nation has witnessed a successive series of violent internal, US-led, and regional conflicts. These affected the country from the mid-1960s,until the end of 1998.
Between 1965 and 1973, a series of covert campaigns (termed 'Operation Menu', Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Dessert) were authorized by the Nixon administration to bomb the Ho Chi Minh supply trail. The trail allegedly used neighboring Cambodian rainforest as a sanctuary for Viet Cong army bases and arms smuggling. According to estimates produced by Norwegian People's Aid and Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), the US air force dropped at least 26 million explosive sub-munitions in Cambodia. It is estimated that between 1.9 million and 5.8 million of these, have not exploded. The full 'Clearing Cluster Munition Remnants 2016' report can be accessed here.
Provinces like Battambang, situated in the North-Western region bordering Thailand, are also heavily affected by landmine contamination. The Khmer Rouge used mines extensively along the borders with Thailand and Vietnam. Starting 1985, the K5 plan forcibly conscripted thousands of local people into constructing a barrier minefield along the entire 750 kilometer length of the Cambodia-Thai border. The remnants of Cambodia's violent past continues to threaten farmers in these areas today. In effort to combat the problem, the United Nations Transitional Authorities in Cambodia (UNTAC) established the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC). Initiatives continue to employ a growing number of women to participate in de-mining programs.
"The number of registered Syrian refugees in Turkey reached 2.7 million by mid-2016, while the numbers hosted in Lebanon (1.0 million), Jordan (655,700), Iraq (249,400), and Egypt (117,200) also remained high." (UNHCR: Mid Year Trends 2016)
As the Syria crisis ends its sixth year, protection space for refugees in Jordan remains limited. In terms of refugees registered, Jordan remains the sixth largest refugee-hosting country in the world.
According to a UNHCR operational report from April 2017, Jordan has issued and renewed 46,000 work permits to Syrians. In total, The Kingdom hosts 657,621 Syrians and 62,445 Iraqis who have been registered with UNHCR. This figure constitutes approximately 10 per cent of Jordan’s population prior to the conflict. The ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria and Iraq have had a considerable impact of on the country’s economy. The Government of Jordan states the influx of refugees has reached a “saturation point”.Reports indicate high levels of economic vulnerability among the urban refugee population. The Vulnerability Assessment Framework (VAF) found that over 85 % of Syrian refugee households live under the Jordanian poverty line of 96 USD per person per month.
In neighboring Syria, Save the Children undertook a comprehensive study into children’s mental health inside the war torn regime. They report that ongoing bombing and shelling is the number 1 cause of children’s daily psychological stress, trauma and scarring. They also highlight that 50% of children in Syria are no longer in school – missing out on critical learning, stability and social development. UNHCR confirms that primary enrollment rates among refugee children remains at a 50% rate, compared to a global average of more that 90%. A further 22 % of refugee adolescents attends secondary school education compared to a global average of 84 %.