A witness to the world's humanity

There are times when I want to take pictures that will help me pause and reflect on all that I've seen on a particular assignment. The murky waters swamping the neighborhood along Humanity Street in New Orleans became a metaphor for all I had witnessed in the wake of hurricane Katrina. The best and worst of humanity flooded the airwaves and news pages: desperation, heroism, anarchy, and compassion. What will we witness in the days, weeks, and years after Katrina, as people confront their new reality? How will people respond as their humanity is tested again and again? As the water recedes, so will the attention being paid to the region. Images become stored in our consciousness, and the world moves on. But the story doesn't end for the people living along the Gulf Coast; or in Darfur, Sudan; Banda Aceh, Indonesia; and too many other places that have grabbed the headlines of the moment. For me, returning to Banda Aceh long after the tsunami story had fallen off the front page has been as important in understanding the struggles and successes of its people as being on the ground in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. As a Monitor photojournalist, I am traveling on Humanity Street, documenting the world, its people, and their lives. It is an endless journey that will surely take me to New Orleans again.

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