Capturing an Emergency

During a disaster, we are all moved by images of the impact and by stories of the people affected by the devastation. Do you ever wonder who’s behind the camera or who’s writing those stories? Today, we’re introducing you to some of ADRA’s professional storytellers who make emergencies come to life.

Meet Arjay

Name: Arjay Arellano
Role: Photographer/Videographer

Arjay’s Favorite Image: I was on assignment in 2018 in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh when I met these children. They just came from school and they were following me as I documented the situation of the Rohingya refugees inside the camp. Children are always fascinated by the sight of a clicking camera. For a brief moment,  they laughed, jumped and alternately squeezed themselves to the front so I could take a picture of them. Every time I look at this photo, I could hear their laughter and I could envision a future where violence and persecution do not exist. Children give so much positivity and inspiration amidst despair and disasters. They give meaning to our work as humanitarians.

Arjay’s Experience: It’s humbling, eye-opening as well as emotionally draining. It weighs your heart down to see other people suffer but you can’t show emotional vulnerability while you do your job. You feel more responsible to tell their stories in a compelling manner so that the world can know and life-saving help can reach them.

Arjay’s Advice: I would advise one to develop a strong sense of compassion towards people, to train oneself to deliver excellent work despite being constant pressure, and to be optimistic despite the suffering one would see in the field.


Meet Britt

Name: Britt Celine Oldebraten
Role: Photographer and Writer

Britt’s Favorite Image: This photo was from my first time visiting the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh. It was hot, humid, crowded, and overwhelming. On the way back, we actually passed the car without noticing it because of the many people who walked along the road. The driver went back to get it while a lady from ADRA Bangladesh and I waited in the shade of a house. It didn’t take long before we were surrounded by people and we did our best to communicate although we didn’t speak the same language. However, someone who knows a little bit of English always seems to appear when we need it. That was the time I met Samira. She told me that she had fled with her grandson and that all four of her daughters had been killed. Her eyes were full of tears. When her grandson fell asleep on her shoulder and she squatted down while everyone stood around her. That’s when I got the picture of her. I will never forget those eyes.