Proofs: Annie + John by Morgana Wingard

Annie and John have been married more than two and a half decades.  Since their nuptials in 1987, they have had 6 children.  They live in Doumpa Town -- a community of approximately 4,000 people, in Nimba County in eastern Liberia near the Guinea border.  Because many of the leaders during the civil war were from this county it was relatively protected while the rest of the country was up in arms.  Thus, Annie and John have spent their entire lives as subsistence farmers relatively untouched in this remote community where more than 65% of people cannot afford 2400kcal/per day.

41% of Liberia’s population is considered food insecure, with children especially hard-hit.  Reports indicate that 65-80% of Liberians live on less than $1.25 a day.  Liberia is highly dependent on foreign aid.  It makes up 771% of their current GoL spending, among the highest in Africa. Food security and improved nutrition are vital to Liberia's success and economic development. The main food insecurity problems are due to: low agricultural productivity, under developed value chains, poor nutritional options and behaviors, and limited public services and capacity. With those in mind, FTF, has developed a 3 point strategy to tackle these challenges:  

  1. Invest in food security through interventions in critical staple value chains: Rice and cassava
  2. Invest in income and diet diversification through high potential value chain pilots: Vegetables and goats
  3.  Invest in cross-cutting improvements in government capacity and the enabling environment

Doumpa Town is home to one of the latest projects funded by the President’s Feed the Future initiative.  It’s geared at training farmers like Annie and John how to better prepare their crops to yield more produce and reduce negative environmental impacts.  The project started because a member of the community heard about another USAID funded project and petitioned the USAID project to help them.  After many outreaches, USAID finally sent a representative to scope out the site which led to the formal agreement with the USAID implementer, FED (Food and Enterprise Development), to start a program in February 2012.  In fact, this community is motivated and ready to improve their lives if they can get access to the necessary tools and education.  Annie, who volunteered to work in the program, started her own farm more than 2 decades ago.  She said proudly, “I don’t want to suffer.  I work hard for myself.”   

Proofs: The choice between life and death by Morgana Wingard

Every great photograph I’ve taken has been nothing short of a gift. It’s someone boldly opening a window into their life allowing me to capture and share their story with the world. The bravery of absolute strangers who invite me into the most intimate truths about their existence astounds me. Recently, I encountered another such hero, Princess.

I met Princess during a morning thunderstorm in Monrovia, Liberia. As the rain hammered on the tin roof above, Princess recounted her story of growing up as a refugee in Ghana during the war. She eventually became very ill, but doctors couldn’t pinpoint the problem. Some said malaria, others said TB, but nothing made her better.

When she finally returned to Liberia and visited JFK Hospital, she discovered that she was HIV positive. Thanks to the Global Fund, she was able to immediately begin antiretroviral treatment (ART), which drastically improved her health.

But two years later, she defaulted and quickly deteriorated again. Her mother brought her back to the hospital. During her appointment the nurse grabbed a piece of paper and wrote “death” and “life.”

“Pick one,” she commanded. She adhered to the treatment program ever since. Soon thereafter she became pregnant and enrolled in the PMTCT program. Nine months later she gave birth to a healthy, HIV-free baby boy.

Thanks to the Global Fund, 4,800 people like Princess in Liberia receive ART. Access to PMTCT services has improved dramatically in the past few years with government reforms. In 2008, only 28 health facilities offered PMTCT services; over the last 3 years, that number has increased to 156 clinics, health centers and hospitals offering PMTCT services to HIV-positive mothers. With the proposed new national scale up plan, the MOHSW aims to reach 80 percent of pregnant women in 2015.


Noah Githens by Morgana Wingard

Katie almost missed her career as a model. Luckily she met me. For over a decade we have captured memorable photos from Uruguay to Machu Picchu to the Grand Canyon to Malibu. She is not only the person I have photographed the most, but she has allowed me capture almost every major life event in the last decade -- whether planned or by accident -- from our finals week procrastination photo shoots to family portraits to her and Mike's wedding . Here's the next set of the series: baby Noah in utero.  

Getnet | Ethiopia by Morgana Wingard

Getnet is a political refugee from Ethiopia who moved to Australia, but then decided he wanted to move back to start a labor intensive business in order to benefit people from his mother country. He now grows vegetables and sells milk from his cows to Addis Ababa and surrounding towns and communities. The DCA Diaspora guarantee enabled him to access the financing needed to get this farm off the ground.

Women's Bowery Mission by Morgana Wingard

Most of my photos capture life outside the United States.  I rarely pick-up my camera in the country I live in.  In fact, the hardest thing for me to photograph is home --the stories I'm living and breathing and smelling and walking past but failing to stop and see.  "Over there" is always more appealing. The grass is always greener on the other side, over the rainbow.  Travel and foreign destinations are idealized like a romantic comedy or adventure blockbuster (minus the awful smells and innumerable inconveniences).  "Over there" promises to be better.  "Over there" has what here does not. "Over there" offers new possibilities, impressive adventures, and exotic new friends.  Or "over there" I can forget about this or I can be that.  

As an all too accomplished wanderlust and not infrequent transplanter, I can assure you that "over there" is always an extent, but rarely better.  The backdrop's painted different colors with different trees and different animals.  The people may look a little different, talk a little different, dress a little different.  But after awhile all the paints begin to run together for me.  Nowhere feels foreign anymore because underneath the seeming differences I always discover more commonalities.  I always find a friend.  What was once far away and foreign has come close to my heart.  Now it's all connected.  It's all home, all familiar, all family and I stopped needing to run away.  I never wanted to be here.  I always wanted to be there.  For the first time since I discovered there, I finally appreciate and want to be here.  

It's time to stop running.  It's time to see and love the people here living and struggling and laughing and crying in this world surrounding me.  So for the first time in a very long time, I picked up my camera without my passport to photograph the stories here at home - starting in New York City. This project, Faces of Hope with Hope for New York, is the beginning of this new journey.  An adventure into the beautiful and epic lives here.

St. Paul's House by Morgana Wingard

St. Paul's House has operated as a mission since 1945 with the goals of training Christian workers and serving the poor.  They offer food programs for the hungry as well as job training, transitional housing and discipleship programs for a limited number of men. The food programs include a five-day breakfast soup kitchen and a one day food pantry. Gospel services are held daily. 

A few more photos from my series Faces of Hope for Hope for New York.

Bowery Transitional Center by Morgana Wingard

Today I spent the day at the Bowery Transitional Center hearing the stories of the men who live and work there.  One thing I've learned is that homelessness can happen to anyone.  We talked to a former marine who worked on wall street but hasn't been able to find a job for months.  One man is a graphic designer.  Another a commercial truck driver.  One lost his house because the city kicked him out after his mother died even though they lived there since he was a child.  Homelessness can happen to anyone.  These are photos of a few of the men who live and work at the Bowery Transitional Center in Manhattan.

The Bowery Mission Transitional Center is the result of a groundbreaking partnership between New York City’s Department of Homeless Services and The Bowery Mission.  Their highly successful 6-to-9 month program is designed to transition formerly homeless drug-addicted men into independent living.  Residents participate in counseling, addiction recovery, career education and training at their on-site career center, and work experience both in-house and then off-site.  77 men can participate in the program at one time, living in single-room occupancy units. Since it opened its doors in January of 1994, The Bowery Mission Transitional Center has helped more than 1,500 men move out of the New York City shelter system.  Each year, The Bowery Mission Transitional Center is been ranked by the Department of Homeless Services among the most effective substance abuse centers in the City.

This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city. 

Kidzone at Father's Heart by Morgana Wingard

The Father's Heart Ministries exists to demonstrate God's love through practical expressions of compassion. Programs include hunger prevention, food stamps access, gang-prevention/youth development, parenting and anger management classes, ESL classes and Alphabet Scoop - a job training/mentoring program for teens. The goal of the Father's Heart is to empower individuals to become self-sufficient, to see families healed and restored and to see them move from dependency to dignity; from poverty to prosperity.

This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city.  

Operation Exodus by Morgana Wingard

Today I dragged my photo gear up to my old hood - Washington Heights in the upper edge of Manhattan - to photograph the children of Operation Exodus.  This is part of a series I'm doing for Hope for New York documenting the faces of that make up the incredible programs they support all over the city. 

Operation Exodus-Inner City was founded in 1988 in response to the desperate needs of children in Upper Manhattan. Located in Washington Heights, over eighty children from kindergarten through high school participate in an after school tutoring program and Saturday mentoring program run by volunteers. The children are generally behind in their education and are beginning to display the negative effects of peer pressure in their lives.  Volunteers assist with programming, mentoring, and special events for students and their families.