reed magazine logowinter2006

uganda imageSeeing the World in More Than Black and White

Ondrizek calls the pictures that resulted from that day’s odyssey at Pabbo “an extraordinary body of work.” She says Rafal’s photography moves well beyond the predictable photojournalism typified by magazines such as National Geographic. “These are living people, and only showing them as ugly and deprived doesn’t get us anywhere,” she says. “Some of Ethan’s photographs live within the realm of the poster child. But much of it is playful and empathetic. We have children making toys—one of the ways that people survive is to make things out of the world around them.”

Still, Ondrizek says she is disturbed by the method behind the message. “I hope he understands the kind of jeopardy he put himself in by lying about who he was while he was there,” she says. “Maybe it’s the result of watching too many bad Hollywood movies.”

Rafal expresses no regrets. “I knew my only opportunity was to provide false documentation,” he says. “It’s a risk, but the reporters who use correct documentation don’t come away with what I have. These journalists spend five days in Uganda, and they see what they’re supposed to see.”

More on the Web

Ethan Rafal ’07 is raising funds for a center to serve former child-soldiers in northern Uganda.

"Childhood's End" by Christopher Hitchens, Vanity Fair

Recent reports and statements by Human Rights Watch regarding the situation in Uganda.

The Scars of Death: Children Abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, issued by Human Rights Watch in 1997

BBC country profile of Uganda