Can a photograph change a life?

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Sometimes I question, “What is the point of taking photographs?” I firmly believe in the power of stories, but sometimes that faith is tested.

This was never truer than when I met a Syrian refugee called Khouloud on a visit to Lebanon with Handicap International three yeas ago. Paralysed by a sniper’s bullet, her situation was as desperate as any I have come across in all the years of my work.

The Observer published an article I wrote about Khouloud, in which I told her story and highlighted her case to those I thought could help. Yet years later, her life had not changed; she was in that same tent, bedbound and in the same desperate need. But she never stopped smiling and not once have I heard her complain.

I felt like I had failed. If I couldn’t help her, what was the point of telling these stories?

This year Channel 4 news did a follow-up to her story and UNHCR published my photos of her. But still Khouloud remained confined to her bed.

Then, this week, the organisation Random Acts heard her story and decided to raise money to help. Within a few days it had raised a life-changing amount.

This has left me speechless. If you believe in a story, keep on telling it – eventually somebody will listen.

Thank you to everybody who let me tell her story, thank you to those who listened and thank you to those who made donations to help her. My faith in humanity has definitely been restored. Now I just can’t wait to tell Khouloud!




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