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Seeing Beauty in Sierra Leone

In 2010, photographer Mike DuBose visited a tiny village in Sierra Leone as part of the Imagine No Malaria effort to share health information and bed nets. He returned to the village recently and reconnected with those whose lives were touched and whose stories, and smiles, touched him. Jan Snider was there too, and shares the story.

Script:

(Locator: Biama Songa, Sierra Leone)

As United Methodist News photographer Mike DuBose makes his way through this village in Sierra Leone, he takes a lot of photos.

But today he’s not only taking…he’s actually bringing…a pocketful of memories he captured here, in Biama Songa, nearly four years ago during the launch of The United Methodist Church’s “Imagine No Malaria” campaign… an extraordinary effort to end preventable deaths caused by malaria.

Mike DuBose: Which one are you?

It’s a reunion, of sorts, as Mike’s colleagues reveal copies of his pictures and the villagers begin to recognize themselves and their neighbors.

Villager: Yeah, I know them! We are so happy about that!

Mike DuBose: This is fun for them to see. This is fun.

Here, wealth is a fertile piece of land and a healthy family so these glossy, richly hued images of friends and family are surprising treasures held in the palm of their hands.

Mike DuBose: And, it’s fun for them to see their own image and just remember; but I hope they’ll keep it and remember. I do.

Mike DuBose: And that’s you. Ah, beautiful!

In 2010, this chiefdom was one of many in the Bo District where Imagine No Malaria blanketed the district with information, training and insecticide treated bed nets. Anticipating the impact of such an unprecedented endeavor, locals saw it as a cause for celebration.

(Singing)

Mike was there capturing the images that have since enlightened donors and brought an authentic representation of the people served.

If we are indeed created in the image of God, then it is through his lens that Mike glorifies the spirit.

He calls today’s visit, “bringing it back.” Leaving the photos behind is his way of thanking the villagers for their connection--the significance they have on him and the lives of others--all captured in the blink of an eye.

The return here today is in advance of Imagine No Malaria’s summer 2014 redistribution, where the old bed nets will be replaced with new ones. And where villagers are, once again, likely to catch the keen eye of this faithful photographer.

Mike DuBose: Where’s that smile? I know you have it in there, come on.

(Music out)

Tag:

Many of the villagers do not own mirrors so seeing their images was a unique experience.

Imagine No Malaria is an extraordinary ministry of the people of The United Methodist Church, putting faith into action to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa, especially the death of a child or a mother.

For more information, visit http://www.imaginenomalaria.org/.

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