Photographer on the Job

The Sri Lankan Difference: Staff photographer Andy Nelson has covered famine in Africa and the 1999 war in Kosovo. But he was struck by a "Sri Lankan difference" while working on today's story about children (page 1).

"I was surrounded by kids who were absolutely beautiful and seemed to have a spirit of resilience. As I walked along they were smiling, holding my hand and laughing," says Andy.

While it's not unusual for Western photographers to be mobbed by children when they show up in a remote village in a poor country, Andy says that this was qualitatively different.

"In Kosovo, I saw a lot of kids - refugees - coming across the border. They're been uprooted from their homes. There was a lot of raw emotion there. Of course, after an initial period of time, they, too, were able to become kids again. The Sri Lankan kids have obviously faced a horrible situation and will at some point have to deal with those emotions. But now you see a remarkable spirit of resilience," says Andy.

In general, he says, Sri Lankans are warm and generous. "It's not just the kids. There's a spirit here that is different. We stopped to talk with one family standing on the rubble of what used to be their home near the ocean in Galle. They'd lost everything. But they had brought a thermos of tea and insisted that we join them. I don't know how I would react in the same circumstances, but I hope that I would have the same generosity."

David Clark Scott
World editor

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