Thursday, April 7, 2016

One Year Later: Photographer Shows “Endurance” of Nepal Earthquake Victims

This April 25 will see the anniversary of one of the most traumatic events in the history of Nepal, an earthquake that measured 7.8 which resulted in the deaths of almost 9,000. Some three million were made homeless, while countless structures, including historic relics, were destroyed.
“A colleague once told me, 'If the story is not told, it does not exist’” says Omar Havana, a Spanish photographer who had moved to the country in 2014 to focus on human drama stories. Some of his images of the aftermath of that day were selected amongst the most significant of the year by international media.Now, supported by FotoEvidence, a group that publishes one book each year to recognize photographers who “demonstrates courage and commitment in the pursuit of human rights,” Havana has launched a campaign to ensure the event is not forgotten. Titled “Endurance: Earthquake Nepal,” his book is set to include 70 black and white shots from across the country, depicting the immediate results of the quake, and the suffering that last for months afterwards.
His Kickstarter campaign has already attracted the support of legendary film maker Bernardo Bertolucci, who has written a foreword for the book. “I heard he was taking part in a fundraising event in Rome to help Nepal and he saw one of my photos that he wanted to use,” Havana told BLOUIN ARTINFO.
“His words about my photo were gorgeous, so I approached him about the book and he did not doubt to collaborate. He was filming “Little Buddha” (1993) in Bhaktapur, so I guess that is part of where his love for Nepal comes from. Every time that we speak about Nepal [I feel] a strong love from him and his act of helping Nepal after the earthquake speaks volumes.”Havana’s book aims to focus on the remarkable spirit of the Nepali people in responding to the natural disaster, and he hopes the release of the book will raise awareness of the ongoing struggles to recover.
“I am a photographer, the only thing that I know how to do is shooting photographs, and I think it is our duty to find the way to help people with our photos,” he says. “Endurance is a project that goes beyond what the world knew about the earthquake.”
Havana himself escaped with his wife from his home on the sixth floor of a building in Kathmandu, walls buckling as he ran down flights of stairs to the street. He would sleep with neighbors and friends in open spaces as aftershocks rocked the country.
“The disaster was told, but weeks after the earthquake the attention of the world vanished. In the meantime, Nepal was fighting hard day and night to rebuild the country, but that story was not told.”
While neighbors shared food and blankets even though they were in need, Havana conceived of documenting the people of the country for Endurance, a book he hopes to donate to schools and libraries across Nepal so that it is no forgotten.
“It is my duty to give everything that I have to tell the story of the Nepali people and show the efforts of the country after the earthquake. Nepal was giving a lesson of life that must be told. Endurance is their story.”
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