The way we view a nation is affected by what we see and hear in the news, but sometimes this isn’t the complete picture. The countries where Peace Direct works are scarred by conflict, but they often have areas of beauty and tranquillity too – areas that reveal the promise of such places if peace can be made.
In Sri Lanka, our photographic project Voice of Image demonstrates this paradox beautifully. There young people have been trained to use cameras and photograph the diversity of their island and its cultures. The resulting images are stunning tributes to a country now entering a post-war phase.
Our thoughts are very much on Voice of Image right now, because we’ve been raising much-needed funds for it through a crowdfunding campaign this summer. But here are some spectacular sights from other countries where we work.
Easily the most awe-inspiring place is Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. Known in local languages as ‘the Smoke that Thunders’, the Falls are located on the Zambezi River at the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe. They’re the largest falls in the world, one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Sticking with the natural theme, DR Congo is teeming with wildlife. The dense rainforest is the second largest in the world after the Amazon, and this rich jungle habitat plays host to some of the most elusive and magnificent creatures in the world. Perhaps due to its endangered status, the most revered of these animals is the gorilla – and looking at this image it’s not difficult to see why. This young ape will grow into a majestic beast and DR Congo is one of the few places in which an encounter is still possible.
Not all incredible sights are natural. In Sudan’s rolling deserts stand the Pyramids of Meroe. These pyramids, like those found in neighbouring Egypt, are royal tombs. They have steeper walls than their Egyptian counterparts, though, and are situated in larger clusters. The impact that man has had on the landscape here is beyond description, but architectural feats such as this reveal the creative power of our species.
These images are all testament to the hidden potential of these nations. All of these countries have experienced conflict in some form and we’re currently working with local peacebuilders in all of them to help them move forward. This is one of the reasons that our Voice of Image project is so crucial. Here at Peace Direct we’re hoping this project can continue to provide us with an insight into the real Sri Lanka, a beautiful island that is home to some incredible sites and yet has suffered the consequences of a terrible civil war. Sri Lanka, like many other nations, should not be defined by conflict alone.