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Kieran Dodds June 27, 2013

Posted by Geoffrey Hiller in Zimbabwe.

Suburb of Harare, Zimbabwe 2009

Kieran Dodds (b.1980, Scotland) graduated with a BSc in Zoology before beginning a photographic apprenticeship at the Herald newspaper group in Glasgow, Scotland. Awarded the UK & Ireland Picture Editor’s Young photographer of the year he used the winnings to fund a series documenting the epic mass-migration of fruit bats in Zambia that won a World Press Photo award.  His personal work considers the role of the environment in human identity and culture focusing on the the beauty of the world and the suffering that pervades it. In 2012, he received a Winston Churchill Travel Fellowship to document China’s highland clearances of Tibetan nomads setting the story in its environmental context. His work has been published widely including The New York Times, The Sunday Times Magazine, Geo, National Geographic. Kieran is represented by Panos pictures in London.

About the Photograph:

“Elijah digs graves in a suburban cemetery of Harare. He complains of working barefoot next to the freshly buried cholera victims. Around 100,000 cholera cases were confirmed with over 4,000 deaths between August 2008 and April 2009.We came upon him in a suburb of Harare the nation’s capital. We were there with an elderly woman looking for her grand daughter’s unmarked grave. Elijah waved at me, then invited me to help him dig the graves. He was barefoot in mud trying to make room for the recent victims and he was clearly exhausted. Beside him is the row of that week’s victims, graves were filling as fast as he could dig them. In the distance, three funerals occur simultaneously, one it was said for a victim of political violence.”

“I have a great love for the peoples of southern Africa and was keen to be in Zimbabwe after the cholera outbreak in 2008. At this point it was rated as the world’s worst failed state but the UK-based non-profit Tearfund arranged incredible access through local churches and the trip ran very smoothly to everyone’s surprise. But it was not an easy journey personally, the human stories were appalling. Most shocking for me was how dignified the Zimbabweans remained in the face of such suffering and their indefatigable hope for justice. People think the dark sky is fake but the image has had very little editing. The clouds grew into another vast thunderstorm but this was the end of the rainy season. The drier weather offered hope for the end of the cholera outbreak and the greater hope that the country’s storms may be over soon too. They continue in hope today.”

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